Green Marine Europe: towards a maritime industry more respectful of the ocean


Product labels exist to tell the consumer if their goods were produced ethically or organically. They reveal information about processing, environmental impact, and composition. But what about the means in which these products are transported? The consumer has the right to know the true impact of their purchasing.  

90% of the world’s goods are shipped using maritime transportation, an industry that has the potential to create major burdens on the ocean and broader environment. Disruptions resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, noise and oil pollution have far reaching effects on biodiversity and ocean health. To encourage a shift towards more sustainable shipping practices, Surfrider Europe has partnered with Green Marine to launch the Green Marine Europe label, a certification program that will help maritime companies identify and reduce their environmental footprint, while informing consumers of the impact of their goods. 

Launch of the Green Marine Europe label, a first on the old continent 

Spearheaded by Surfrider Europe Vice-President, Jacques Beall, the organization has been working since 2017 to develop and promote a sustainable shipping label that would encourage maritime transparency. The Green Marine Europe label will indicate the environmental performance of companies by calculating several criteria that reach well beyond European and international legal obligations.The label is defined by environmental performance indicators relating to air, soil and water pollution.

During the European Voice for the Ocean consultation, 98% of participants answered that a label on eco-friendly transport would influence purchasing habits. With the launch of the Green Marine Europe label, Surfrider Europe is proud to provide consumers with this new opportunity to make informed buying choices. European shipowners can now apply for the new label which will help to indicate to passengers and consumers the company's responsible approach.   

Now is Europe’s time to reduce the impact of maritime activity 

The launch of the Green Marine Europe label signifies a major step forward for European shipping and progress towards reducing the pollution caused by maritime transport. Currently, the industry accounts for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions, but studies show that if no changes are made, this figure could rise to 17% by 2050.   

Pollution linked to maritime transport :   

    → Degassing: the intentional discharge of tanks containing oil residues from the ship's propulsion system.    

    → Ballast water discharge: used to balance the ship during loading and unloading. These waters may contain invasive species that can threaten the balance of endemic ecosystems.  

    → Domestic pollution: black or grey water loaded with pollutants such as paint or crew waste that is discharged into the sea. 

    → Atmospheric pollution: greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Green Marine certification is already guiding the maritime industry in North America   

The Green Alliance is an environmental certification program that has been active in North America and Canada since its founding in 2007. It is a voluntary approach aimed at improving the environmental performance of marine transportation beyond regulatory requirements. This model is based on a fundamental pillar: the active participation of shipowners in the development of labelling criteria. This allows for an open and transparent dialogue between industry, government partners and civil society, which is the most effective way to define an environmental improvement approach.   

In concrete terms, to be awarded with the label shipowners must control their underwater disturbances, greenhouse gas emissions and consider a sustainable approach to the recycling of ships. To date, more than 140 shipowners, port authorities, terminals and shipyards in Canada and the United States are participating in the program. European shipowners can candidate here

Through its partnership with Green Alliance and the launch of the Green Marine Europe shipping label, Surfrider Europe aims to reduce these forms of pollution and foster an environment of accountability and conscious behavior throughout the maritime industry.  

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