Newsletter January 2021

Newsletter January 2021

The Manta is the flagship project of The SeaCleaners. It is a giant ship designed to collect, treat and repurpose large volumes of floating plastic debris present in highly polluted waters, along the coasts, in estuaries and in the mouths of large rivers, before it disperses and enters the marine ecosystem. After months of research and development starting in 2019, the final design of the Manta has finally been unveiled. Its construction will start in 2022, while its first field mission will be launched in 2024.

The ship will be 56.5 metres long, 26 metres wide (46 metres wide with outriggers) and 62 meters high, and will weigh 1800 tonnes. It will operate autonomously 75% of the time without fossil fuels, through 1500 square metres of sails installed on automated rigging, together with an electrical motor powered by on-board renewable energy production equipment (two wind turbines, hydro-generators and photovoltaic solar panels).

Operating mainly in Asia, Africa and South America, it will collect between 5 000 and 10 000 tonnes of debris per year, at a rate of 1 to 3 tonnes per hour, including macro-waste and smaller debris from 10 millimetres upwards. It will include four different collection methods: inclined conveyor belts under the ship, two small decontamination boats embarked on-board the Manta (the Mobula 8 and the Mobula 10), three floatable collection systems, and two cranes for larger debris. When collected, waste will be manually sorted according to its material. While metal, glass and aluminium waste will be stored for recycling in onshore waste management plants, plastic waste will be converted into electricity through pyrolysis in the Manta’s on-board repurposing plant.

In addition to its collection activities, the Manta will disseminate solutions for plastic waste management and clean shipping in the countries it visits, it will receive the public aboard for awareness and educational purposes, and it will host international scientific missions thanks to its on-board research facilities.

The Manta will help battle the scourge of marine pollution. Every year, between 9 and 12 million tonnes of plastic pollution are dumped into the ocean, and at the current rate, the amount of plastic in the seas will triple in the next 20 years. 1.5 million animals die each year because of plastic pollution.

Learn more about the Manta through this video and through the SeaCleaners website.

On 27 January, EBI participated in an online event titled “Electrification workshop: Leisure boats” organised by consulting firm WSP, in conjunction with the EU’s Periscope project and Business Region Göteborg (Sweden).

EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill explained the EU policy drivers that will contribute to the sustainable transformation of recreational boating, where electrification has an important role to play. This includes the European Green Deal, the Healthy Oceans Mission, the ongoing review of the Recreational Craft Directive, and the Sustainable Blue Economy Strategy (which will be published this year). These policy initiatives, together with EU funding programmes and the EU and national recovery plans, are of utmost importance in the transition towards electrical boating, alternative fuels and other new propulsion systems.

The workshop also included speakers from Arendal municipality (Norway) and Amsterdam municipality, who discussed the role of local authorities in the electrification of boating, as well as speakers from the companies Vita Yachts and Candela, who discussed issues relating to the market for electrical leisure boats. The outcome of the workshop will be summarised and used in a report produced by WSP on behalf of Periscope and Business Region Göteborg.

EBI and ICOMIA have entered a new partnership with mutual benefits for both EBI and ICOMIA members and an increased focus on the further development of nautical tourism. ICOMIA and EBI are very excited about this new partnership agreement and look forward to joining forces to tackle important industry issues together.

ICOMIA is the international association representing the recreational boating industry. Its full members are global marine industry associations. ICOMIA is a longstanding stakeholder in the various relevant working groups of the European Commission and employs technical and environmental specialists who are engaged in EU-related work. Its mission is to act as the voice of the recreational marine industry worldwide to facilitate, influence, inform and research.

Through this agreement, ICOMIA will continue to provide technical and environmental support and ensure cohesive representation of and communication with EBI and ICOMIA members. ICOMIA will assist with statistical work or studies, including the annual ICOMIA Statistics Book.

As part of this new partnership, EBI will start providing bi-monthly monitoring newsletters, which will include updates on EU work and EBI’s advocacy activities to keep its global partner updated.

The agreement was signed by the Presidents of the two associations, Sara Anghel and Jean-Pierre Goudant, as well as their respective Secretary-Generals, Udo Kleinitz and Philip Easthill.

Udo Kleinitz, Secretary-General of ICOMIA, said: “EBI and ICOMIA have a high overlap in their European membership. From the outset we have been working on complementing each other’s work rather than duplicating. This agreement is a step to implement better exchange of information and joint action. I believe I can speak for ICOMIA and its members in saying we are very pleased about the public message it sends in demonstrating our stronger ties.

Philip Easthill, Secretary-General of EBI, said: “We are delighted to have signed the renewed and extended partnership agreement with ICOMIA. It allows for optimal communication channels and cooperation between the work of EBI at EU level and ICOMIA’s global activities. We have agreed a partnership that supports both associations’ members and the entire recreational boating industry to create suitable regulatory conditions.”

At the first General Assembly of the year, on 26 January, EBI met with its members to discuss the key aspects of 2020 and laid out the plans for the coming year. Two new sustaining members were welcomed – TransEurope Marinas and EMCI Register – further increasing EBI’s position as the voice of the European recreational boating industry.

The General Assembly, held online, discussed the successful progress made in the past year, which saw EBI take a leading role in its outreach to the EU institutions with dozens of meetings with Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission at highest political level. Besides informing the industry and advocating for its key issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, EBI was active on a number of policy areas forthe industry. This includes the Recreational Craft Directive, which is currently being reviewed, international trade policy, EU tourism policy, end-of-life boats, decarbonisation, the EU Healthy Ocean Mission, funding opportunities and other issues that impact the boating industry.

The General Assembly unanimously approved the applications of two new sustaining members: EMCI Register and TransEurope Marinas. Sustaining members benefit from EBI’s extensive network and participate in its activities. They also gain access to a broad base of expertise and support for their own activities.

EMCI Register is a young and dynamic RCD notified body. Staffed by a young and ambitious team, its focus is on using software and digital innovation to make the certification process more efficient without skimping on quality. EMCI Register does this by employing an in-house software team that focuses on optimizing the administrative processes of a notified body, maximizing efficiency.

TransEurope Marinas is an association of over 80 select European marinas across 11 different countries, where the majority fly the Blue Flag or hold another certification (Blue Stars, Gold Anchors or Ports Propres) in recognition of proficient environmental management. The principle aims of the group are to share good practice throughout the international community and promote responsible and sustainable boating. Member marinas are currently implementing a first phase of digital transformation, connecting all destinations via an online platform, and offering improved services to boaters. TransEurope Marinas managers are also active in PIANC working groups, endorsing the Working with Nature concept to help design better services in marinas.

After the General Assembly, EBI President Jean-Pierre Goudant commented: “We are proud of having successfully brought our key messages into the work of the EU institutions on the issues that count for our industry. The recreational boating sector is seen as a trusted partner on key topics and we look forward to building on this in 2021. As EBI, we are also delighted to further grow our membership and welcome two new sustaining members. EMCI Register and TransEurope Marinas offer very important perspectives that we look forward to bringing into our work.”

Following the approval as sustaining member of EBI, Chairman of EMCI Register Giel Tettelaar commented: “EMCI Register is excited to join EBI and to work together with the other members to represent the recreational craft sector on the European stage. We are not interested in sitting on the side lines and we look forward to actively assisting EBI in its activities to assist the sector.”

 On being accepted as sustaining member of EBI, Melanie Symes from TransEurope Marinas said: “We have been tremendously impressed with EBI’s trajectory over the last year, showing leadership in addressing current industry concerns and making significant progress towards representing nautical tourism interests at government level. As an international marine network, TransEurope Marinas is firmly in favour of collaborative alliances that help grow this sector in line with sustainable values. We very much look forward to working with Philip and the team.”

In December 2020, EBI, ICOMIA and NMMA sent a joint letter to President-elect Joe Biden, urging the new administration to remove the steel and aluminium tariffs introduced by the previous US government, which had spurred retaliatory action from the EU and which had impacted the recreational boating industry. The letter congratulated the President-Elect on his election, while highlighting the key issues for the recreational boating industry in trade policy: the importance of EU-US trade in the industry, the importance of SMEs, and the need to remove the steel and aluminium tariffs, which would lead to the removal of the EU’s retaliatory tariffs.

The letter also addressed future perspectives on how to facilitate trade, such as through reducing technical barriers to trade, regulatory conformity, standards harmonisation and mutual recognition.

As previously reported, the European Commission expects the new US Administration to remove the steel and aluminium tariffs. This will also lead to the EU removing its retaliatory tariffs (including on US boats).

The recreational boating industry relies on the health of our seas. That is why EBI is strongly committed to reducing marine pollution and raising awareness among boaters and the general public. The SeaCleaners, created by the sailor and ecologist Yvan Bourgnon, is a natural partner to EBI, given its commitments to awareness-raising, biodiversity protection, plastic waste collection and scientific observation. Under the new partnership based on a Memorandum of Understanding, both organisations will promote common activities.

Within the framework of this collaboration, The SeaCleaners, which has made prevention and awareness a major focus of its action against plastic pollution, will develop and distribute educational tools, such as a "plastic waste collection manual". This booklet will be distributed to boaters to encourage them to take action against this scourge, which has a deadly impact on marine biodiversity and contaminates coastal waters as well as the high seas.

The SeaCleaners' scientific teams will also work with EBI to develop best practices. Companies and boaters will be invited to participate in The SeaCleaners' Voluntary Observer Programme. As part of this programme, they will carry out observation missions of floating plastic pollution in the areas of the world most affected by this phenomenon. The observations will be processed, analysed and used to create a reference database on global plastic pollution. This will improve the relevance of public policy, on land or at sea, aimed at reducing plastic pollution and protecting marine biodiversity.

Finally, companies in the boat building and equipment manufacturing sector will be offered the opportunity to contribute to the construction and fitting-out of the Manta, a pioneering solution for collecting and recovering floating plastic macro-waste that will be launched in 2024. The Manta will be the first deep-sea vessel capable of collecting and mass treating floating oceanic waste before it breaks up and enters the marine ecosystem in a sustainable manner, thanks to its on-board plant.

Joint advocacy and communication actions aimed at supporting European institutions in their initiatives to reduce marine litter and transition to a circular economy will also be implemented.

Jean-Pierre Goudant, President of EBI explains: "The European Union has estimated the cost of environmental damage caused by plastic pollution in Europe to be 22 billion euros up to 2030. We are convinced that all maritime actors must make a determined commitment against plastic pollution. Through our collaboration with the NGO The SeaCleaners, we are proud to take another step forward by supporting a great project and giving the industry access to concrete resources to act.

Yvan Bourgnon, president and founder of The SeaCleaners adds: "Plastic pollution is a major ecological threat on a global scale. There is an urgent need to act on all fronts, both preventively and curatively. And all actors have a duty to take the necessary measures to contribute to this fight. We are infinitely proud that European Boating Industry, a major player in the European maritime sector, is positioning itself so firmly at the forefront of the fight alongside us.”

For more information about the partnership, please click here.

The EU and China have agreed in principle to a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). The agreement aims to balance the economic relationship between both parties, given that the EU market has always been more open to Chinese investment than the Chinese market has been to EU investment. It will ensure a better level playing field, which the Commission says will give European businesses a boost and will help them compete in China.

China has made market access commitments in a wide range of sectors, including the manufacturing, which is the most important sector of EU investment in China. In these areas, China will not be able to prohibit market access or introduce new discriminatory practices. Specifically, the agreement sets rules on state-owned enterprises, on the transparency of subsidies, and against forced technology transfers. It will also be easier for EU companies to obtain authorisations and complete administrative procedures, and they will now be able to access China’s standard setting bodies.

The agreement also contains provisions on sustainable development, whereby China commits to not lowering environmental and labour standards in order to attract investment. Other Chinese commitments include respecting international obligations, promoting responsible business conducts by Chinese companies, or implementing the Paris Agreement, among other things.

The agreement reached in principle is just the first step in the process, since now the text must be legally reviewed and then ratified by the EU legislative authorities (the European Parliament and the Council of the EU). More information on the agreement can be found here.

Every six months, a different country holds the presidency of the Council of the EU, the institution representing EU member state governments. The country holding the presidency plans and chairs Council meetings at the different levels and represents the Council vis-à-vis other EU institutions, often trying to encourage agreement on legislative files.

Portugal holds the rotating presidency from January to June 2021. The programme of the Portuguese Presidency spells out three main priorities for these six months:

  • Promoting a European recovery boosted by the green and digital transitions.
  • Delivering the European Union’s Social Pillar as a key element for ensuring a fair and inclusive green and digital transition.
  • Strengthening the strategic autonomy of a Europe that is open to the world.

Stemming from these priorities, the Presidency envisages several action lines, on the themes of a resilient, green, digital, social and global Europe. Consequently, topics that will be of importance to the Presidency include the Recovery and Resilience Facility, industrial strategy, rule of law and democracy, carbon emissions, tourism, the blue economy, the circular economy, digital skills, employment, and the EU’s relations with its international partners, among many other issues.

With regard to the blue economy, the Presidency programme states that “the Presidency attaches great importance to the development of the blue (ocean) economy, including renewable energies, blue biotechnology, sustainable aquaculture, coastal and maritime tourism, green shipping, and maritime surveillance technologies for the protection of the marine environment. In this context, we will hold a ministerial conference on integrated maritime policy in Lisbon in June.” In addition, given the Presidency’s special interest in the preservation and sustainable use of ocean and sea resources, it will organise a high-level conference on sustainable oceans, to be held in the Azores in June.

The Presidency will also focus on tourism, with a number of conferences and events, as well as Council conclusions on digital and sustainable tourism.

The website of the Portuguese Presidency is

In December, EBI and experts nominated by EBI members participated in videoconferences with the experts of the RCD consortium. These videoconferences were on the topics of exhaust emissions, evaporative emissions, and design categories. In each one of them, EBI was able to present its position, which all EBI members had contributed to and had agreed in 2019/2020. Key points on the practical perspective, as well as the future developments of the industry, were brought across and followed up with written input to the consortium.

A new development is that measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from recreational boats will also be included in the review and may feature in a future revision of the RCD. The European Commission confirmed to EBI that the European Green Deal is behind this decision, which has the target of making the EU carbon-neutral EU by 2050, with an intermediate reduction target of 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels (as proposed by the Commission). EBI will closely engage with the consortium to provide input and suggestions on how greenhouse gas emission measures could be implemented, and will emphasise the proactive role of the recreational boating industry.

Based on these points, the EBI Executive Committee and experts are currently preparing detailed papers with regulatory suggestions for the future development of the RCD.

As part of the review, a consultation with a deadline of 14 March was launched by the European Commission. EBI will respond to the consultation and encourages its members to do the same.


The review of the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) will be based on a report carried out by a consortium of companies: Panteia (The Netherlands), TNO (The Netherlands) and Emisia (Greece). The study has a 10-month timeline. Following the study, the Commission will prepare a report that sets out the conclusions of the study, as well as potentially other areas to address. At the same time, the Commission will decide whether the current RCD is suitable or whether legislative changes should be proposed. The deadline for this is January 2022 and would then be followed by the legislative process in the European Parliament and Council of the EU (representing Member States).

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