Restoring EU’s Oceans Becomes New Law Of The Sea

EU Nature Restoration Law Voted Into Law

EU Nature Restoration Law Offers The World’s Best Hope

A cure for devastating ocean harm already done by high and rising CO2.

Restoring the Trees and Seas of the EU by 2030 will receive €8.3 billion per year.

There is excellent news for the planet in the leadership by the European Union that recognizes worsening harm to the environment requires immediate restorative action. Recognizing the vital need for Climate Triage and setting priorities to stem the hemorrhage of environmental harm destroying vital ecosystems, the EU parliament passed the EU Nature Restoration Law in July 2023. It is the world’s most essential and significant environmental legislation to date. Best of all, it comes with a sufficient budget to achieve potent and immediate results; almost but not too late, it will be challenging and joyful work to deliver this first aid for our Trees and Seas.

Let’s look at the SEAS part of this new action plan, as it is now Against The Law not to restore our Seas!

Ocean restoration is a topic that few understand when compared to the restoration of terrestrial ecologies. We all know that planting trees is both practical and promising. Healthy forests provide so many benefits to our environment: homes for forest wildlife, protection of water resources, and, of course, every gram of tree carbon, aka wood, is a gram of carbon captured and safely sequestered from the atmosphere, helping to slow the course and damage of climate change. Alas, trees grow very very slowly.

To understand ocean restoration, a first good step is to think of oceans in the way we think of ecosystems on land. There are many diverse terrestrial ecosystems, forests, pastures, shallow wetlands, and more.  The oceans are best thought of as an assemblage of many ocean pastures.  Most ocean life depends on these pastures and their blooming period of prolific growth, just like livestock on land depend on the grass that blooms on pastures on land. On land, if the pastures fall into a drought, the livestock disappears, but no one claims that the livestock has been over-harvested.

Somehow, the narrative about oceans and their cataclysmic collapse of fish and sea life is that overfishing is the principal cause.  The ocean pastures are suffering today from a 50+ year decline of its phytoplankton, overfishing is happening but on pastures where most of ocean life has already been starved into near extinction.  We can and we must restore the EU’s Ocean Pastures. The OPR plan for the EU is simple, proven, potent, practical, and prompt!

There is the potential for Europeans to become the caring, restoring stewards of many of its vital ocean pastures every year.  The cost of ocean pasture restoration will be a tiny fraction of the new EU NRL budget, not even 10% of the appropriation; even 1% will be sufficient to restore the SEAS of the EU.  OPR will be immediately proven to be environmentally safe, ecologically sustainable, and most importantly, economically successful in the course of our planned series of 3-year state-of-the-art restorations as public-private partnerships with many EU nations.

Within this short 3-year time frame, billions of fish will be fed. Sardines, seabirds, whales, and myriad fish species will be restored to historic levels of health and abundance.

A brief history of sardines provides us with our raison d’etre

There is no more iconic fish of Europe than its sardines (aka pilchards, herring). Our scientists and politicians have been lamenting the dire collapse of sardines for at least 50 years.  Here’s a story from 1970 on the disaster of the loss of sardines that drew a report in the New York Times.

New York Times Portugal Sardine disaster 1970
Portugal’s Iconic sardines are disappearing

LORIENT, France, July 23, 1970 — Emile Rio raised his tumbler of vin rose’ in a sad salute to
the waters of the Bay of Biscay.
“Somewhere out there, the sardines are hiding,” he said in a voice as throaty as the
rumble of his fishing boat’s idling engines.
“They are beautiful things when you catch them, like great heaps of jewels,” he mused. “I hope they will come back again.”

The news report laments that schools of silvery sardines have been growing scarcer and smaller along France’s western coast, and people are worried. Some, like Mr. Rio, insist that a whim of nature is to blame. But many fear that the sardine industry, a mainstay of the local economy, is being quietly overtaken by an environmental disaster.

Jump forward 50 years!

EU Sardines Shrinking from starvation
Click to read more

The case of the shrinking and disappearing sardines has resulted in many theories doing the rounds among fisherfolk: an increase in hungry predators such as the bluefin tuna and dolphins, overfishing, and epizootic diseases in the Gulf of Lions – the Mediterranean’s richest pasture for sardines, anchovy and mackerel.

However, biologists at the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) debunked these hypotheses in a report published Monday, concluding the sardines were getting skinnier because their own food source – plankton – was drying up.

“Satellite images clearly show a drop in the quantity of microalgae in the mid-2000s … at the same time we started to see a decline in the size of sardines,” says Jean-Marc Fromentin, a researcher at Ifremer.

Sardines are essential links in the ocean food chain and are among the world’s most fished foods. Smaller, younger sardines, whose weight has plummeted from 30g to 10g, have little commercial value.

“A sardine given a small amount of food must have a double portion in order to grow like a sardine given a large amount of food,” said Claire Saraux, a former Ifremer researcher who now works at the CNRS, France’s National Centre for Scientific Research.

“We were surprised by the very significant effect of the size based on the amount of the food.”

The same tragedy of the shrinking sardines is repeated everywhere in Europe and indeed around the world.  The solution is obvious to all: we must restore the plankton food the sardines depend upon.

Ocean Pasture Restoration is the answer! It will feed and bring back the fish to all of Europe!

Here’s our plan.  Ocean restoration to bring back the fish is proven, potent, practical, and prompt!

For more than 50 years, the scientific community has seen their role as mere observers of natural phenomena.  They always advise with ideas for more research and rarely, if ever, offer practical plans, save for requests for more research funding. There have been and are endless academic discussions on the topic of the shrinking sardines of Europe. The apparent solution of restoring their ocean plankton pastures has come up time and time again, only to be dismissed in favor of pointing fingers of blame toward the “bad overfishing pirates” and claims that not enough research has been done.

SeaWifs Satellite 1978
SeaWifs First Ocean Pasture Plankton Satellite In Orbit 1978

That New York Times report of 1970 helped expose the plankton’s plight and resulted in the building and putting into orbit this Blue Planet’s First Ocean Plankton Pasture satellite in 1978.   The satellite provided the first-ever global ocean plankton pictures and maps revealing the cataclysmic collapse of ocean plankton pastures. The disappearing plankton pastures correlated perfectly with the observation of shrinking size and numbers of fish; some began to work on practical solutions, restoring the ocean pastures.

The late great Prof. John Martin dedicated his life to unraveling the Gordian Knot of the complexity of ocean pasture ecology. He won global acclamation for his incredible work proving that the ocean plankton pastures control the world’s climate and, of course, the primary productivity of all ocean life, including the fish.  By 1990, his work was featured everywhere in science as a monumental breakthrough offering incredible practical potent promise.  His work made the rounds of major media in the form of political cartoons.

John Martin cartoon
John Martin’s “half a tanker” of iron is but 1/2 of one of the 25,000 shiploads of iron ore dust the world consumes yearly to make the steel we use. Surely, we might afford such a tiny share of our iron to restore our oceans to historic levels of health and abundance.

The iron-rich dust that Prof. Martin spoke of has historically been carried to the distant ocean pastures as dust in the wind. Near the shore, an abundance of iron mineral dust reaches nearby ocean waters via rivers and streams of neighboring lands. The problem is that our high and rising anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere has the powerful effect of making plants on land, especially grasses, grow better. Grasses that are associated with pastures that are green and lush in the wet seasons and dry and dusty in the dry seasons are the key.

More Grass Growing Means Less Dust Blowing

Since at least 1950, global greening due to our CO2 emissions has been taking place.

China Desert Greening
China Desert Greening 20+ years ago and today.
China's dust declines
Greening of the Western regions of China and Mongolia has resulted in a collapse of dust in the Northern Hemisphere… No dust blowing means oceans stop growing. June 2022 – LOSS OF DUST IN NORTH PACIFIC IS STARVING OCEAN PASTURES Frequency of Dust Storms in China 1960 to Present

The decline of dust dates back much further. Still, by 1970, it became clear via the reports of shifts in global fish, especially the plankton feeders, that the problem of global ocean plankton pasture collapse was well correlated and potentially cataclysmic to fisheries.

Sadly, the response of the world of fisheries was to develop vastly better technologies to improve the catch of the dwindling fish. This technological shift has hidden global fisheries collapse for decades, proving that better technology can catch more of even dwindling fish.  Of course, only the wealthiest of the fishing world could afford such technological, bigger, better fleets, and the world of artisanal ocean fisheries was starved to the moribund state it is in today.

Thanks to the tragic story of the European Sardines, we can definitively understand what we must do. We must BRING BACK THE FISH!

Bringing back the fish will deliver massive economic and food resource benefits to the regions. Ocean Pasture Restoration brings the world of oceans into the same world of pastures on land. We learned 10,000 years ago that when we worked to take care of our pastures on land, those pastures would take care of us. The epoch of treating the oceans as a wilderness of abundance where we never give anything back but treat them as unlimited hunting territories must end now!

By replenishing and restoring the dust we have denied our oceans, a consequence of the emissions of 2 trillion tonnes of fossil fuel age CO2, we can, as John Martin noted, restore the ocean’s potency in managing and controlling our climate.

Our restored healthy ocean pastures will:

1. Bring back the fish
2. Bring back the seabirds
3. Bring back the whales
4. Bring back cooling clouds and cooling albedo
5. Bring back ocean pH to normal and healthy, less acidic levels, ending ocean acidification.
6. Bring back the biological fixation and sinking oceanic mercury that largely derives from coal emissions.

and… oh yes,

7. Bring back the oceans as the most powerful, potent, prompt, and practical means to capture and sequester billions of tonnes of yesterday’s CO2 that produces all of today’s climate change environmental harm.

Some additional reading links:

Here’s what the British Royal Society says about Yesterday’s legacy CO2.

If emissions of greenhouse gases were to be stopped, would the climate return to the conditions of 200 years ago?
Even if emissions of greenhouse gases were to suddenly stop, Earth’s surface temperature would require thousands of years to cool and return to the level in the pre-industrial era.


Our overfished seas have nothing left to give
Published on 21/11/2023
As the UK and the EU are setting fishing quotas for 2024, we must end overfishing or risk marine collapse and its devastating consequences for communities and wildlife.

Today, over a third — 34% — of UK fish populations are overfished, and a quarter have declined to a ‘critical’ condition. Some, such as West of Scotland cod, have reached a state of crisis so extreme that the independent fisheries advisory body, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), has advised urgently ending all fishing of these stocks.

Portugal Faces the Collapse of its Sardine Fishing Industry July 2022

In the 1980s, Portugal and Spain were fishing 200,000 tons of sardines annually off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Poor management of resources and the fragility of remaining stocks, caused by warming and acidification of ocean waters, led the traditional Portuguese fish to near collapse. In 2009, sardine stocks in Portugal fell below safe biological levels. In 2002, fishing of the species totaled 63,732 tons in Portugal but has been falling until it hit 9,624 tons in 2018.

More Grass Growing Means Less Dust Blowing

Africa becomes greener

Scientists have quantified for the first time how vegetation across the continent has changed in the past 20 years. Thirty-six percent of the continent has become greener, while 11 percent is becoming less green.,cent%20is%20becoming%20less%20green