Divers photographing a dying reef


OUR OCEANS ARE IN DANGERThere are many ways that an organization can contribute to the health of our oceans. Each of the members of Seas At Risk are doing their bit to help recovery and thereafter, to promote sustainable practices.


The Cleaner Ocean Foundation assimilates the information that has been gathered by others and looks at alternatives to solutions that exist, in the hope of bringing something new to the table. SeaVax has been identified as a platform with potential for many uses aiming towards ocean salvation, including: 1. responsible fishing vessels, 2. plastic waste collection and 3. oil spills containment. Finally, the SeaVax is solar and wind powered and may help to pave the way for zero emission cargo vessels of the future.


For these reasons the Cleaner Ocean Foundation is looking to build a prototype SeaVax within the next three years, subject to the availability of funding for this colossal research undertaking. Under the present calls, Horizon 2020 funding may not be sufficient for COF's purpose. If the SeaVax project is to see the light of day other funding sources will almost certainly be required.




According to their website, 'Seas At Risk' works to ensure that environmental protection is at the heart of any long-term economic agenda and in full compliance with the EU's Good Environmental Status 2020 objective.

The EU’s Blue Growth agenda for economic growth and employment has identified five priority areas for future creation of growth and employment, i.e. ocean renewable energy, aquaculture, maritime and coastal tourism, exploitation and mining of marine mineral resources and blue biotechnology. For most of these sectors, the magnitude and scope of environmental impacts are highly uncertain and partly unknown. Seas At Risk is therefore advocating a precautionary approach that respects the constraints to growth that are set by the EU's Good Environmental Status 2020 goal.

While the Blue Growth Communication recognizes marine ecosystems and their protection as ‘an important element for sustainable development’, Seas At Risk’s view is that healthy marine ecosystems should be central to the sustainable development of maritime activities, rather than a mere ‘green pillar’.

Another challenge is to ensure that technology and efficiency gains are not outstripped by growth, i.e. by focusing on sustainable economic activities that meet the needs of current and future generations, and generate prosperity for society, rather than focus on growth for the sake of growth. The precautionary principle must be adhered to by avoiding the build-up of activities (such as deep sea mineral mining) that deplete finite marine resources and risk irreversibly damaging ecosystems.



Deep sea mining risks Agenda 2030




The European Union aims to boost its aquaculture production in order to meet the growing demand for seafood as well as to create economic growth and employment. But even though significant progress has been made to improve the sector's environmental performance, various environmental challenges remain to be solved. Seas At Risk provides regular input to EU aquaculture policy processes in order to ensure that the sector develops in an environmentally sustainable manner.

While global aquaculture has seen impressive growth figures of around 7 % per annum, European aquaculture growth has stagnated the past decade, currently providing only 10% of seafood consumed in the EU. Various incentives are therefore being developed to increase EU aquaculture production. The EU’s Blue Growth agenda for economic growth and employment has singled out the sector as one of its priorities. Several measures to stimulate aquaculture are included in the Common Fisheries Policy and the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Seas At Risk is in particular concerned about the heavy dependence of the sector on marine proteins and oils to fulfil feed requirements and its link to over-fishing, the continued use of unknown quantities of medicals and chemicals, ineffective disease management, and the wider ecosystem effects of production which are as yet uncertain due to the lack of research and credible data. Also, as long as the EU continues to practice ranching of IUCN listed endangered species such as Bluefin tuna and European eel, the aquaculture sector can hardly stand the test of sustainability.

Together with other stakeholders, Seas At Risk is currently working on the creation of the European Aquaculture Advisory Council, in line with the requirements of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.




Shipping is responsible for a large part of total global emissions of CO2, yet at present there are no targets for limiting or reducing these emissions. Seas At Risk is working at United Nations and EU level to change this situation and ensure that appropriately stringent targets and effective reduction measures are adopted. 

According to a 2009 United Nations’ International Maritime Organisation (IMO) expert group report international shipping was in 2007 responsible for 870 million tonnes of CO2, around 2.7% of total global CO2 emissions (when domestic shipping was included this rose to 3.3%). Emissions from shipping have been growing rapidly in recent years and in the absence of regulation are predicted to rise to 1,475 million tonnes (or 6% of the total) by 2020. Without measures to tackle shipping emissions they are likely to undermine other efforts at tackling climate change.

Greenhouse gases from shipping were not included in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol targets, but developed countries (those listed in Annex I of the Protocol) are obliged to pursue reductions by working through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). But progress has been painfully slow. An un-ambitious target for the energy efficiency of new ships is in place but no binding measure has been agreed to reduce GHG emissions from the existing fleet of ships, let alone set a reduction target.

Frustrated by the lack of progress at IMO the European Union has agreed a regional system for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of ship GHG emissions and the IMO now looks like it will follow suit. This, however, is just the start. The problem of shipping’s impact on the climate can only be solved with a suite of ambitious measures addressing the design of new ships, the operation of existing ships and the introduction of fuel efficient and renewable technologies, all within the framework of clear emission reduction targets that are consistent with avoiding dangerous climate change.




THE INDEPENDENT HENDERSON ISLANDBeaches of a remote British island in the South Pacific are littered with an estimated 37.7 million pieces of plastic as a result of carelessness on our part. We simply cannot allow such irresponsible actions to continue unchecked. Even with such vessels as SeaVax patrolling is fleets as a backstop, we must make it that waste disposal even in small amounts carries serious consequences for the offenders.




The European marine environment has become engulfed in litter, the majority of which is plastic. It is an entirely human created pollutant that has severe ecological impacts, as well as economic costs to marine industries and local authorities. It is a problem that respects no boundaries, and is not caused by one single culprit, but can be considered a symptom of our consumer society and the production of endless goods and the inappropriate methods of disposing of them. The evidence of the harm caused by marine litter is growing. It can be ingested by or entangle marine life, it breaks down into microscopic particles, attract and absorb dangerous chemicals, aid the spread of invasive species and dangerous pathogens, and has spread to every corner of our oceans.

The problem results from failures at an individual, local, national, EU and international level. Seas At Risk’s work focuses on the EU and international level to raise awareness of the problem and to advocate for effective and ambitious policy measures.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the only existing EU legislation that explicitly requires EU Member States to come up with measures to reduce marine litter. Under the directive, Member States are obliged to set targets, implement monitoring programmes and measures to reduce marine litter. The goal is to achieve ‘Good Environmental Status’ by 2020, the first deadline to assess whether or not the state of the European marine environment has improved. If Member States take this directive and the problem of marine litter seriously, measures will be necessary at all levels to address consumption patterns, waste disposal, and waste water disposal amongst others.




In the North Sea, one of the world’s busiest areas for shipping, up to 40% of marine litter comes from the maritime sector. In Europe, it has been estimated that around 20,000 tonnes of waste is dumped each year in the North Sea. In the Netherlands as much as 90% of the plastic found on beaches originates from shipping and fisheries.


Port reception facilities are the waste disposal facilities provided for ships by port authorities. If these facilities are inadequate, complicated to use or simply too expensive, then it provides ship operators and crews with an incentive to dump their garbage at sea instead. This is illegal in most cases but once at sea they are unlikely to be detected by authorities.

In the EU the port waste reception facilities are governed by EU Directive 2000/59/EC which states that all ports must provide adequate reception facilities for ships waste and recoup the costs through a certain amount of indirect fee.

The directive is not prescriptive enough, and has led to a wide range of waste reception systems across Europe. There is evidence to show that this confusion is contributing to ship waste dumping. Seas At Risk believes that only through a European wide, harmonization of port reception facilities will we end ship waste dumping. The PRF Directive is up for review, and we will be working to ensure that the problems associated with it and the environmental impacts of the directive’s poor performance are fixed.

As part of our work on ship sourced marine litter, Seas At Risk calls for:

* A ‘one-stop-shop’ approach that places administrative responsibility for waste reception with the port authority. This will reduce confusion for shipping agents and aid in enforcement and data collection.

* 100% Indirect fee – all ships calling at port must pay the same fee regardless of whether they use the facilities or not.
Individual ship waste inspections – to identify polluters and aid enforcement.

* Mandatory waste discharge for all vessels.

* Reception facilities for fishermen to dispose of their old gear and prevent dumping at sea





Seas At Risk has 34 member organizations in seventeen countries. Their members are all non-governmental environmental organizations with national or international status..



Archipelagos - Greece

Archipelagos, Institute of Marine Conservation is a Greek non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 1998. Archipelagos is committed to researching and defending the biodiversity of the Greek seas and islands, as well as of the NE Mediterranean region overall.


BUND - Germany

The Association for Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND) is committed to protecting the natural environment which makes life possible for the world. The BUND is involved in ecological agriculture and healthy food for climate protection and the development of renewable energy, protection of endangered species, forests and water. With about 480,000 members BUND is one of the major environmental groups in Germany, with a national network of 2,000 regional and local departments.



Danmarks Naturfredningsforening - Denmark

Danmarks Naturfredningsforening (DNF) is the largest nature conservation and environmental organisation in Denmark. With the support of 140,000 members, DNF works to protect nature and the environment. It has 216 local committees and 2000 active members who are active at local and regional levels. The organisation also tries to generate attention to EU matters in Denmark.


European Environmental Bureau - International

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is a federation of more than 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.


ENT Foundation - Spain

The ENT Foundation is a private research center whose aim is to develop research and innovation projects in the areas of environment, development and international cooperation. They work mainly with other research centers, public administration and NGOs.

 Fent petit website

Environmental Investigation Agency - International

EIA’s investigations are a trademark of their work around the world, but they tackle environmental crime and defend the natural world strategically, operating in a number of different ways. Their findings are combined with scientific documentation and representation at international conventions, creating the hard-hitting campaigns which have earned them a global reputation.


Fish4tomorrow - Malta

fish4tomorrow is a Maltese NGO that aims to create a culture of sustainable fishing and seafood consumption. Formed originally in 2010 as a coalition between five Maltese NGOs, the organisation has previously worked on information and public advocacy on the issue of sustainable fisheries, and the organisation is now aiming to engage in bigger projects based on research, advocacy and communications, while engaging with EU fisheries policy making. 


France Nature Environnement - France

Established in 1976, France Nature Environnement is a network of more than 3000 associations working for environment protection. It contributes to the improvement and respect of environmental laws in France and is present in more than 200 consultative and advisory bodies.


Good Fish Foundation - Netherlands

The Good Fish Foundation (GFF)  was founded in June 2014 to manage and develop the Dutch VISwijzer (Seafood Guide). The GFF works with and alongside European businesses to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable seafood supply chain and sustainable aquaculture development. They aim to do this by promoting market demand for sustainable seafood and by assisting consumers and businesses throughout the seafood supply chain in making informed and responsible buying decisions in the Netherlands and Europe.


 GFF logo

Grupo de Estudos de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente - Portugal

Grupo de Estudos de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente (GEOTA) was established in 1986 and is a nationwide, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, independent from political, economic, religious or other affiliations.

 GEOTA website

Legambiente - Italy

Founded in 1980, Legambiente was one of the first groups of environmentalists and antinuclear movements that developed in Italy and throughout the Western world.


Levende Hav - Denmark

Levende Hav (Danish Society for a Living Sea) works for the preservation of the marine landscape, to guarantee a diversity of marine flora and fauna, and to ensure that future fisheries are based on ecological principles and are sustainable both economically and socially.


Liga para a Protecção da Natureza - Portugal

Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (LPN) is one of Portugal's leading non-governmental organisation with 7500 members. It is the oldest environmental association in the Iberian Peninsula, created in 1948, with the main tobjective of contributing to the conservation of nature, biodiversity and ecosystems.



The MARE Foundation - Poland

The Mare Foundation was founded in 2015 to work to protect the Polish and Baltic marine environment. The main objectives of the MARE Foundation are conservation of marine living resources and their habitats through measures aimed at promoting sustainable exploitation of marine and coastal resources, the protection of ecosystems and its components having an impact on the marine environment and raising public awareness of environmental matters, as well as helping people affected by ecological disasters and their effects.

 MARE Foundation

Marine Conservation Society - UK

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) was officially registered as a charity in 1983 in the UK. Since then, MCS has achieved major successes in protecting special wildlife, tackling sewage problems, helping the seafood-buying public, and influencing Government and industry. Today, more than 7,000 supporters fund their work through membership, donations, and turtle adoption schemes. An additional 8,000 MCS volunteers participate in the yearly beach clean up activities around the country.


Mediterranean SOS Network - Greece

MEDITERRANEAN SOS Network is a non-profitable, non-governmental organization active since 1990 in matters related to the environment and culture on a Euro - Mediterranean level. It has120 Full Members who form its annual General Assembly and approximately 3000 Supporting Members.


Natuurpunt - Belgium

Natuurpunt is a Belgian NGO, who administers and maintains northern Belgian’s network of natural parks and nature centers. They have a very large membership base of ordinary people who want to enjoy nature and contribute to protecting it. They also have a large base of volunteers and staff who work in the natural parks, preserving nature and educating the general public. Natuurpunt also works on coastal issues to protect Belgian beaches.



Norges Naturvernforbund - Norway

Norges Naturvernforbund (NNV) was founded in 1914 and is Norway's largest environmental conservation organisation with around 28,000 members. NNV is a nationwide organisation with branches in all counties, and 155 local groups scattered throughout Norway.

NorgesNaturVernForbund website 

Oceancare - Switzerland

OceanCare has been working for the protection of marine mammals and oceans since 1989. With research and conservation projects, campaigns, environmental education as well as its contributions to a range of important international committees, OceanCare has undertaken concrete steps worldwide to improve the conditions of life in the world’s oceans.

Oceancare logo small

Project AWARE - International

Project AWARE Foundation is a growing movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean planet – one dive at a time. They are focusing in on two major ocean issues –Sharks in Peril and Marine Debris, or trash in our ocean. They are concentrating on these serious problems where scuba divers are uniquely positioned to directly and positively affect real, long-term change.

Project aware 

Quercus - Portugal

Quercus is the largest environmental NGO in Portugal. It was founded in 1985 and acts as an independent, non-partisan association of citizens who share an interest in the conservation of nature. Today its work includes conservation of nature and biodiversity, energy, water, waste, climate change, forests, sustainable consumption, environmental responsibility and marine protection.


Retorna - Spain

Retorna is a platform formed by over 15 members from different NGO´s, including consumer and environmental groups, trade unions and the recycling industry. Its aim is to change the production and consumption model to one that considers waste as a resource and believes no resource should be landfilled or incinerated and never end up in our forests, rivers or seas.

retorna verd nou 

Sciaena - Portugal

Sciaena is a Portuguese NGO that works to conceive, implement and support marine environmental projects, promotes the sustainable use of coastal and marine resources, and advocates for the integrated development of associated communities. They lobby nationally and internationally to promote a scientific approach to marine environmental protection.



Sea First Foundation - Belgium

The Sea First Foundation (SFF) informs and educates the general public, and children in particular, about the importance of the world’s oceans and what threats are posed to the marine environment. By creating awareness, SFF tries to reduce or (preferrably) stop the detrimental human influence on the oceans and all marine life, whether it be underwater or topside (like seabirds). SFF was founded by people who are involved in the oceans in many diverse way; be it through work, training, hobby or general interest.



Stichting De Noordzee - Netherlands

Stichting De Noordzee is a professional Dutch non-governmental organisation working exclusively on North Sea issues.


Sunce - Croatia

Sunce is one of Croatia's leading civil society organizations for environmental and nature protection. Sunce advocates responsible management of natural resources based on the principles of sustainable development and contributes to this through the development of expert studies, guidelines, plans and strategies for effective protection of the environment. Sunce also actively contributes to conservation by encouraging public participation, education and awareness raising. 



Surfers Against Sewage - UK

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is an environmental charity protecting the UK’s oceans, waves and beaches for all to enjoy safely and sustainably, via community action, campaigning, volunteering, conservation, education and scientific research.

 Surfers Against Sewage

Surfrider Foundation Europe - International

Surfrider Foundation Europe is a non profit organization, dedicated to defending, saving, improving on and managing in a sustainable way the ocean, coastline, waves and the people who enjoy its use. Created in 1990 in Europe (Biarritz, France) by surfers, including 3-time World Surfing Champion Tom Curren, the organization brings together today about 700 volunteers, 10,500 members, more than 40 local chapters, and 150,000 supporters in Europe.


Sustainable Water Action Network (SWAN) - Ireland

The Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) is an umbrella network of twenty-six of Ireland’s leading environmental groups working together to protect Ireland’s waters by participating in the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), Marine Strategy Framework and other water related policy in Ireland.  SWAN is made up of national and local groups with a wide range of specialist and local knowledge and expertise in all areas of Ireland’s aquatic environment.



Svenska Naturskyddsföreningen - Sweden

Svenska Naturskyddsföreningen (SSNC) is the largest nature conservation and environmental organisation in Sweden with 170,000 members and 274 local branches across the whole country.



Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment - Ireland

Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment (VOICE) promotes a respectful relationship with the Earth and positive solutions to environmental destruction. In co-operation with local, national and international organisations, it works to increase environmental awareness through education, empower people to protect the environment, and campaign on national environmental policy.



De Waddenvereniging - Netherlands

The Wadden Sea, Europe's largest intertidal wetland, is situated between the mainland of The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark and a string of islands. De Waddenvereniging (The Wadden Sea Society) was established in 1965, has more than 45,000 members, and aims to preserve the characteristic values of the Wadden area for future generations.


Whale and Dolphin Conservation - International

Whale and Dolphin Conservation is the leading global charity dedicated to the conservation and protection of whales and dolphins. They defend these remarkable creatures against the many threats they face through campaigns, lobbying, advising governments, conservation projects, field research and rescue. Their vision is a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free.

Whale and Dolphin Coservation

World Animal Protection - International

World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for the Protection of Animals) is an international non-profit animal welfare organization that has been in operation for over 30 years. The charity has regional hubs in: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, and offices in 15 countries. The international office is in London.






Seas At Risk is funded both by membership fees and grants from external bodies. For 2016-17 Seas At Risk secured funding from the following sources:


European Commission 

Adessium Foundation

ClimateWorks Foundation 

European Climate Foundation

Funding Fish 

Oak Foundation


Pew Charitable Trusts

Villum Foundation

Waterloo Foundation

Plastic Solutions Fund




Seas at Risk

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 This website is provided on a free basis as a public information service. copyright © Cleaner Oceans Foundation Ltd (COFL) (Company No: 4674774) May 2017. Solar Studios, BN271RF, United Kingdom. COFL is a charity without share capital.