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Clean seas with a sustainable blue economy – challenges and opportunities

In collaboration with the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and the Joint Research Centre

Human activities may exert multiple pressures on the marine environment and its ecosystems. Blue Economy sectors, but also land-based activities (notably agriculture and urban/industrial settlements), cause a range of widespread pressures across Europe’s seas (e.g. emissions of nutrients, organic matter, microbial pathogens, litter, energy and sound, but also extraction of resources and physical disturbances).

Maritime activities are dependent upon the natural capital (either abiotic, biotic or both) held in Europe’s seas. The importance of using the marine environment sustainably is vital so that marine ecosystems and their services can be maintained, and hence, also the human activities that depend on them.

Benefits from the marine environment are not only limited to the blue economy sectors but the marine environment plays an important role in, among many other things, providing food, water and other materials, regulating the climate (e.g. carbon sequestration), weather and air quality.

The aim of the European Union's Marine Strategy Framework Directive is to protect more effectively the marine environment across Europe. This is complemented with the annual EU Blue Economy Report that aims to provide up-to-date knowledge and evidence on the marine and maritime sectors to support the economic growth of these sectors in a sustainable way.


  • Bernhard Friess, Director , Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs & Fisheries, European Commission
  • Veronica Manfredi, Director, Directorate-General for Environment, European Commission
  • Giovanni De Santi, Director, Joint Research Centre, European Commission


  • Frangiscos Nikolian, Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs & Fisheries, European Commission
Session 2.4
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Main programme