A safer and more secure maritime space, better governance of the sea and a smart and resilient blue economy were highlighted by Samuel Azzopardi, Councillor, Rabat Citta Victoria, Local Council, Gozo (MT/EPP), for his opinion on the “Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean” was adopted at the CoR’s Commission for Natural Resources today.

The sea is an invaluable source for mankind. The ethical administration of all aspects of this treasure should be a measure of our success as a European civilisation

This European Commission initiative aims to allow EU and neighbouring countries to work together to increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity. It encompasses ten countries of the Western Mediterranean region who are ready and willing to work together on these shared interests for the region: France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta as well as Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

Presenting his opinion for adoption, the CoR rapporteur welcomed the initiative and proposed actions, which encourage partners in the western Mediterranean to address unregulated and illegal human activities by intensifying their efforts to improve existing capacity. He also called for more efforts to counter marine pollution within the sea basin, the smuggling of migrants and illegal fishing, as well as the development of tools to better respond to marine pollution.

He added “I am specifically concerned about the fact that small economies might not be in a position to financially equip themselves appropriately in terms of capacity building. This is something we need to pay attention to.”

The actions set out to protect the marine environment and habitat against all kinds of pollution was also highlighted. However, he underlined the need to proactively identify zones for preservation such as the marine protected areas and to consider awareness raising campaigns.

In terms of developing a smart and resilient blue economy, Councillor Azzopardi emphasises the gaps that exists in education and skills that need to be addressed without further delay and in close cooperation with local and regional authorities.

Economic development and education go hand in hand and thus the partners need to take into consideration both of these socio-economic aspects to ensure the success of this initiative” he stressed.

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