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The rush to the oceans

Environmental awareness has had the virtue of revealing to the greatest number that our planet is blue, essentially made up of salt water. As a result, a wide variety of calls to protect the oceans are growing, from professionals, experts, governments and others...

This rush and late enthusiasm is to be welcomed. Let us try not to ruin the seas as we have ruined the Earth.

However, it is important to look at maritime issues in their entirety. Protecting these immense spaces means guarding them, prohibiting their appropriation or plundering, ensuring the safety of the people and goods that use them, and regulating their use in accordance with codified principles. It also means preserving one of the last areas of freedom, that of navigation, exploration and science, which still has much to learn from the depths of the oceans. It means combating deviant practices in the China Sea, the Arctic and on many coastlines.

On the seas, the great game of power is being played out, the balance of power between nations and continents, a new race for resources and, perhaps, the risk of a return to conflicts that were thought impossible.

This is what the European maritime strategy adopted in 2014 tried to anticipate, what the summit on the oceans organised by France in Brest will address in the next few days and what the "Strategic Compass" that the European Union will adopt in March 2022 should set in stone.

For Europe, whose territory is small, this is a vital emergency; for its member states, it is an imperative obligation of means.

For only powerful and reinforced navies will ensure that our maritime objectives are achieved: environmental protection, but also security, defence of our interests, promotion of our principles and respect for shared rules.

The law will not be enough. It will require real determination and strength.

The little fish we love so much will not defend themselves alone!

For it is on the water, under the water and above the water that an important part of the future of our world is being played.