The EU should protect 10 percent of its coastal and marine areas by 2020. So far only about 6 percent is protected.
In creating the next generation of Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) there are important lessons to be learned from the Baltic Sea region. There, the areal goal is already reached. But the real target of marine protection is still at risk of being missed.
Despite the fact that 12 percent of the coastal and marine areas in the Baltic Sea are protected, many habitats and species are still threatened. The latest evaluation of the ma- rine Natura 2000 habitat types shows that 24 years after the introduction of Natura 2000, none of the seven marine priority habitat types in the Baltic Sea have reached favou- rable conservation status.
The sea’s most critical habitats are often located where we humans like to swim, fish and moor our boats.
Habitats that have the worst conservation status include estuaries and coastal lagoons. Places where we humans like to swim, fish and moor our boats. In some areas these habitats are so severely affected by human activities that their function as habitats for marine species has been dramatically impaired, leading to decline or loss of important species.
Protecting 10 percent of the marine environment does not mean that the qualitative requirements and goals set in the Nature Directives, Marine Directive, the Biodiversity Strategy and UN Sustainable Development Goals are automatically fulfilled. Nor does it guarantee the actual objective of marine protection: preserved biodiversity and continued sustainable exploitation of marine resources.