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European Maritime Day
News announcement25 May 20226 min read

Benvenuto a Ravenna

Ravenna is a seaside town: the wind that brings the salty tang of the Adriatic in your nostrils tells you so. Yet, as the seafront receded over the course of the centuries, the maritime nature of the town might not be completely obvious at a first glance. So, strolling by the imposing Rocca Brancaleone and the Mausoleum of Teodorico, one has to imagine when they were standing on the seafront; wandering nowadays in the green fields of Classe, just out of town, one has to exercise his phantasy to picture the immense harbour built by Emperor Augustus, hosting up to 250 military ships, that was once there: before subsidence and silting up brought the sea away.  But the people of Ravenna, creative and pragmatic Romagnoli as they are, didn’t renounce to their deep, historical tie with the sea, and they brought it BACK to them, building the 8km Corsini Canal, from Marina di Ravenna to the city itself.

The Canal, a lifeline for the city, became an extensive industrial hub over the last 100 years, and if you sail along it down to the sea (it is an experience we recommend, and there’s a boat just for that purpose in the Darsena), you will realise how it is bristling of activity, with leisure and commercial vessels continuously coming in and out.

This maritime vocation of Ravenna makes obvious why the 2022 edition of the European Maritime Day took place there-and a great edition of the EMD it was.

1550 participants (750 physical, and 800 virtual, due to the still ongoing COVID restrictions), crowded the Pala De André in Ravenna to listen and participate to the discussion on the wealth of maritime themes,  from carbon neutrality, Zero Pollution and circular economy, to marine biodiversity restoration and sustainable aquaculture under the umbrella of the ”Sustainable blue economy for green recovery”.

At the crossroads of ocean excellence

The EMD opened with a plenary session and a panel with Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, taking a strong stance on protection of the ocean and sustainability:

My ambition is to set an up to date vision for the EU as a global leader in driving ocean sustainability in line with the European Green Deal. The Ocean is probably the single most important asset of our planet. If we fail to protect our Ocean, we are failing to protect our identity. I am committed to ensure a sustainable future for the generations to come.

Bringing together the brightest and most engaged ocean specialised minds of the continent, this was also the opportunity to encounter fascinating experts, promoting excellence for the future of our seas.

Donatella Bianchi, President of WWF Italy, shared with the crowds her clear stance on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). As for her, they are the only way to find the biodiversity balance needed. She shared her belief that to do so our tools must become more efficient, our MPAs enlarging – especially to include the deep sea, an area which we know to be filled with rich diversity.

All on the same page determined to protect our seas and oceans, we turned to Dona Bertarelli, Special Adviser of UNCTAD for the Blue Economy to get her point of view. She underlined the fundamentality of the Treaty of the High Seas (BBNJ - i.e. the protection of ocean Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction) to achieve our goals.

This was indeed a marvellous occasion to engage with numerous prominent actors of the sector for EMD TV, as well as for more casual interviews. That way we got the chance to talk to WWF Head of Ocean Policy Antonia Leroy, Renata Peloso from Blue Invest, Angela Schultz Zehden to talk about EU4Algae, and to our EUMOFA colleagues.

As we celebrate the European Year of Youth, it was our immense pleasure to meet up with the brilliant Youth4Ocean Advocates. Commissioner Sinkevičius got to engage with them for a morning question time session and to hear about all their brilliant projects.

Mariasole Bianco, the celebrated marine biologist and ocean conservation advocate, and EMD main moderator, summed up her time at EMD: “it has been a very positive experience in which we shared a proactive atmosphere of collaboration, innovation and acknowledged the responsibility to work together across ages, gender and sectors of society to build a better future for our ocean and a sustainable blue economy”

EU in action awards

This EMD edition was very much about ocean knowledge, education and awareness: those are the core themes of the EU4Ocean Ocean Literacy Summit, which took place within the main event. After more than 2 years of hard work building the ocean literacy community in Europe, the EU4Ocean coalition and Charlina Vitcheva, Director-General of the Directorate-General Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, awarded 6 prizes to honour the best among the many initiatives promoting ocean education across the ??. The projects supported social learning and critical thinking, had a strong innovative character, a collective dimension, a focus on the EU, and potential for replication, and mobilized diverse representatives of different communities. This was underlined by Carmelo Isgró, the founder of the Museo del Mare in Milazzo, who pointed out the “participation to the MuMa project, not only of the maritime stakeholder but of the entire local community, which was critical for its success”. Charlina Vitcheva concluded the award ceremony by looking towards the future: “because of the Decade of Ocean Science that has started, we need to take advantage and do more on ocean literacy – we embarked on a collaboration with IOC UNESCO, supporters in the work that the EU4Ocean coalition has started, showing us the way and helping us establish our Ocean Literacy credentials. We plan with them an ocean literacy official side event during the upcoming UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June

Down by the seashore

EMD ended gloriously with the Ravenna Seaside Days, which was inaugurated with an impressive water light show, and saw various stands at the Darsena and elsewhere in town showcasing the richness of the maritime sector, and the local food tradition, the latter kindly proposed to the public by the local FLAG.

But for the DG MARE participants to the Days, the highlight was the visit to the CESTHA, the Centro Sperimentale per la Tutela degli Habitat, a non-profit research organization whose purpose is environmental protection. Its amazing staff, made up of researchers and specialists in natural sciences, marine biology and veterinary medicine, showcased their vast number of activities to DG MARE, ranging from recovery and rescue of maritime life (with a strong focus on sea turtles), sustainable fisheries, ocean advocacy and awareness building. Simone D’Acunto, Marine Biologist and Director of CESTHA, underlines that the final purpose of their work is “to operate along and together with fishers to make the fisheries sector more sustainable”. During their visit to the headquarters of CESTHA, in the historic complex of the ancient Fish Market in Marina di Ravenna, DG MARE had the chance to meet with two turtles, Lady Gaga and Pongo, that were recovered from fishers’ nets and nurtured back in health with loving care. And then, the staff of CESTHA took DG MARE off at sea, to give them the once-in-a-lifetime chance of witnessing the return of two sea turtles, back to their natural environment-an amazing moment that represents, in a nutshell, what DG MARE strives for.


Publication date
25 May 2022