Deepening our relationship with the ocean, which is essential to ensure its protection and our survival.

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On June 8 we celebrate
World Oceans Day
This date was proclaimed in 2008 by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of the ocean for our planet and the well-being of people, and to promote its conservation. In 2024, under the theme “Awakening New Depths,” emphasis is placed on the urgency of changing society’s relationship with the ocean and deepening our forms of collaboration and engagement in its protection.

The ocean is the heart of the planet, covering more than 70% of its surface. It is our source of life and sustenance for all organisms on Earth. According to the UN, the ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’ s oxygen and absorbs about 30% of the carbon dioxide produced by humans, thus helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. It is also home to most of the world’s biodiversity and provides protein for more than 1 billion people worldwide. The ocean is also key to the global economy, with an estimated 40 million people working in ocean-related industries by 2030.

However, despite all the services it provides, the ocean is threatened by causes such as climate change, pollution and overexploitation of resources. The UN points out that currently the 90% of the large marine species fish stocks are depleted and that 50 % of the coral reefs have been destroyedand stresses the need to establish a balance so as not to extract more resources from the ocean than it can replenish. In this sense, this year’s World Day is framed within the framework of the UN Decade of Ocean Science (2021-2027) which provides a priority international framework to address the degradation of marine ecosystems and promote actions to sustainably manage, protect and restore marine and coastal environments.


In this context, the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) promotes the conservation, protection and restoration of the ocean and marine ecosystems through various projects and programs.

The exploration of the seabed and its associated species communities has been the objective of several oceanographic campaigns developed within the framework of marine projects coordinated by the Fundación Biodiversidad. On the one hand, thanks to the scientific knowledge generated in LIFE+INDEMARES, developed between 2009 and 2014, 10 marine areas were declared Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and 39 as Special Protection Areas for Birds (SPA).

Within the framework of LIFE INTEMARES, which is still in force, a adequacy analysis of the Natura 2000 Networkon which the declaration of 7 new sites as SCIs and SPAs by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, which has led to an increase in the protected marine area from 12% to the current 21%, on the international path to reach 30% of the protected marine area by 2030. In addition, this project has continued to expand marine scientific knowledge with the study of seven new marine areas through 25 oceanographic campaigns.

On the other hand, the LIFE ECORESTin which Fundación Biodiversidad participates as a partner, is making progress in the knowledge of species such as gorgonians, corals, and sponges with the objective of restoring nearly 30,000 hectares of deep-sea habitats in Catalonia with the participation of the fishing sector.

During the project’s oceanographic campaigns, 451 organisms have been released in four closed areas at a depth of between 90 and 140 meters. At present, fishermen participating in the project have begun the process of returning organisms to the sea which, after being rescued from fishing nets, have been recovered in aquariums installed in fishermen’s associations in Girona and Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona).

For its part, through the Pleamar Programco-financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) for the period 2014-2020 and by the European Maritime Fund for Fisheries and Aquaculture (EMFF) for the period 2021-2027, the Biodiversity Foundation is working to support the fishing sector in its commitment to the sustainability of fishing and aquaculture activitiesThe company’s activities include: improving the management of the Natura 2000 Network, reducing marine pollution and promoting environmental awareness.

During the 2014-2020 programming period, 135 projects from 70 entities have been supported . 24 million euros to strengthen the fishing and aquaculture sector in its commitment to sustainability through collaboration with environmental and scientific organizations and R&D&I, and to promote involvement in the protection and conservation of the marine environment in which they operate.

For the 2021-2027 programming period, two new calls for proposals will be published with a budget of 29 million euros, to which the FEMPA will contribute 17.7 million euros. The first of these, published at the end of 2023 with €14.55 million, reinforces the generation of knowledge, support for governance, reduction of the impact of fishing and environmental improvement of aquaculture. During the month of July, the resolution is expected to be published and the projects will begin. Another call for proposals under the Pleamar Program is scheduled to be launched in 2025, which will also be endowed with 14.5 million euros.

Finally, within the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR), the following actions are being carried out 15 projects aimed at reinforcing stranding and marine species rescue networks. These initiatives seek to improve the care of stranded marine animals, promote their recovery and increase scientific knowledge about the populations of these species. They operate in several regions of Spain, such as Catalonia, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, and focus on the conservation of turtles, cetaceans and other marine mammals.

Likewise, in order to guarantee the conservation of the different species of cetaceans and turtles that inhabit the Mediterranean Sea, the research project CETAMED NORTE conducts aerial and maritime sampling campaigns of cetaceans, turtles, floating debris and other species in the northern part of the Mediterranean Cetacean Migration Corridor to increase knowledge of the populations that inhabit or migrate through this area.

In short, these lines of work highlight how the joint effort of all social actors, the scientific community, administrations and civil society, is key to contributing to improving the health of the ocean, guaranteeing its well-being and that of present and future generations.