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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article26 May 2021

European Maritime Day: How LIFE addresses marine pollution

On 20 May, LIFE held an online workshop to showcase its impressive track record in addressing a wide range of marine pollution issues.

LIFE15 IPE/ES/000012
© — 2006 — LIFE15 IPE/ES/000012/Fundación Biodiversidad/Juan Cuetos. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union.

The meeting, attended by 100 people, took place as part of European Maritime Day (EMD) and focused on marine litter and navigation/shipping.

Fabio Pirotta – Marine Team Coordinator - DG Environment of the European Commission

Mr Pirotta provided the policy background for the event, highlighting that the EU Marine Strategy ​Framework Directive aims to achieve clean, healthy and productive seas with a ‘good environmental status’. The Directive has enhanced cooperation on the marine environment across the EU. We now know more about our seas and we have a framework that looks at all marine life and all the pressures marine environments face.

The goal of the Directive is not to block economic activity but to use the marine environment sustainably: ‘Protecting marine life does not mean we cannot use the sea’s resources. Businesses need to think about what they can take from the sea and what they can give back,’ he said.

He added that European Green Deal initiatives have both a direct and indirect positive impact on the marine environment. These include elements like the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the Zero-Pollution Action Plan.

Dr Solon Mias – Project Manager - European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA)

Dr Mias noted that the LIFE programme has been instrumental in providing workable solutions to reduce the many pressures on the marine environment. LIFE is unique in that it can finance projects that address a wide range of marine pollution issues. 

Since 2005, LIFE has supported the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive through some 125 projects. These projects cover a number of important issues like marine litter, underwater noise, turbidity and collisions,’ he said.

In conclusion, he encouraged potential applicants to apply for LIFE funding under the upcoming Call for proposals.

LIFE projects under the spotlight

The session also presented a selection of LIFE projects that could be replicated by other stakeholders requiring funding to address different maritime pollution topics:

Marine litter

LIFE DEBAG (Greece) – reduced marine litter through awareness-raising. It also successfully campaigned for a change in national law on single-use plastics.

LIFE Soupless (the Netherlands) - a close-to-market innovation for collecting marine litter.

LIFE LEMA (Spain and France) – several countries working to collect marine litter in the Bay of Biscay.


LIFE MARINAPLAN+ (Italy) – another close-to-market project that replaced dredging operations at port entrances.  

LIFE PIAQUO (France) – used tools like improved propellers and special monitoring sensors to reduce underwater noise from shipping and to protect marine species.

LIFE INTEMARES (Spain) - an Integrated Project to safeguard marine mammals by reducing collisions in busy waters.

Want to find out more?

Dr Solon Mias - How LIFE addresses marine issues

Fabio Pirotta - Protecting our seas (policy)






LIFE and marine pollution infographic

LIFE & the marine environment brochure

Bringing nature back through LIFEstudy

Image: LIFE15 IPE/ES/000012/Fundación Biodiversidad/Juan Cuetos. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.


Publication date
26 May 2021

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