By Salima Jonniaux

The oceans cover more than 70% of the planet. They provide many services for humanity it could not do without. Phytoplankton produces nearly 50% of the oxygen we breathe and also plays a major role in absorbing carbon dioxide. That's one of the ocean features, which contribute to limiting the effects of climate change. The oceans also offer many resources and meet the needs of human populations in other ways, including coastal ones with their ever increasing demographics. The exploitation of fisheries resources is a purveyor of jobs in many, not only developing, countries, ensures food security and thus contributes to economic development.

These spaces, long impassable and unknown, are now exposed to many threats. Overexploitation, species extinction, pollution, acidification, ... all of these causes and effects put pressure on the sustainability of the services provided by the oceans and raise many questions.

This Wednesday, November 18, 2015, the European Parliament welcomed some members of the research consortium who have collaborated through the project "Sea for Society" and came to present their results. The group was composed of experts from politics (Tiago Pitta e Cunha), civil society (Puri Canals), economics (Lara Barazi and Fransis Vallat) and volunteering groups (Joanne Casserly and Roberto Lo Monaco). The workshop was chaired by the MEP Ricardo Serrão Santos, himself a marine biologist.

The objective of this meeting was to initiate a dialogue on the future of our oceans and introduce the concept of Blue Society developed as a result of the research project, also incorporating perspectives and experiences of hundreds of personalities consulted as part of conducting the research. Ideas and solutions were proposed to build a new society together and put in place a new form of governance of the oceans, where the exploitation of marine resources does not compromise ecosystem balances, thereby ensuring the ability of the oceans to meet the needs of future generations.

This transition to the Blue Society requires action on the policies to be implemented with the collaboration of all stakeholders while promoting awareness and education.

Click here for an overview of the key messages of meeting (in French).

If you want to know more about the activities of the Sea for Society project and on the concept of Blue Society, I invite you to visit the project website - click here.