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Marine Strategy Framework Directive

On 17 June 2008, the European Union adopted the Marine Environment Strategy framework directive (MSFD) for all of the maritime waters under the jurisdiction of member states, excluding overseas departments. This directive should notably promote the inclusion of environmental concerns within all policies concerned and constitute the environmental pillar for future European Union maritime policy. In this regard, the directive enables the development of a more global management approach in terms of Marine ecosystems present in European waters.

A healthy ecological state of the marine environment by 2020

Understanding and awareness of the vulnerability of major ecological balances, that is now greater than ever, requires new efforts in the search for solutions for the conservation and sustainable use of resources. The implementation of the “Marine Environment Strategy” framework directive (MSFD) aims to promote the sustainable use of marine waters and the conservation of marine ecosystems. This approach takes into account the protected areas and concerns all human activities having an impact on the marine environment.
The directive aims to take all measures necessary to achieve or maintain a healthy ecological state of the marine environment by 2020.
In France, this is materialised by the law of 12 July 2010 concerning the national commitment to the environment, called the "loi Grenelle 2", and through the decree No. N011-492 of 5 May 2011 concerning the creation and implementation of action plans for the marine environment, as provided for by law.

The agency's involvement

The Agence des Aires Marines Protégées is widely involved alongside Ifremer and under the supervision of the water and biodiversity board (at the ministry of sustainable development), in the first stages of the implementation of the directive, whose reports are expected by the European Commission in the summer of 2012.

The agency is responsible for the scientific and technical coordination of the initial evaluation of our seas for the following two topics:

  • evaluation of pressure and impact of activities on the environment
  • economic and social analysis of the use of our waters and the cost of damage to the marine environment.

To do this, the agency has coordinated the works of technical experts on approximately 70 distinct themes concerning the waters of mainland France. The results of these works have been delivered to the competent authorities of the maritime sub-regions, the people responsible for consultation with the interested parties, public consultation, and lastly, the adoption of the initial evaluation before its notification to the European Commission.

The agency assists Water and Biodiversity Management in the implementation of the directive, notably:

  • through monitoring the works establishing a "healthy ecological state"
  • through preparatory works and accompanying the establishment of "environmental objectives"
  • through participation in and monitoring of international works (OSPAR agreement, action plan for the Mediterranean, community workgroups on the MSFD)
  • through participation in technical committees writing action plans for the Marine environment, for four marine sub-regions (Channel – North sea, Gulf of Gascony, Celtic Seas, Western Mediterranean) concerned by the directive.

The different stages

  • July 2010: possible subdivision of marine regions – definition of criteria and methodological standards
  • July 2012: initial evaluation – definition of a healthy ecological state – definition of environmental objectives
  • July 2014: creation and implementation of monitoring programs
  • 2015: creation of a measures program
  • 2016: launch of measures program
  • 2020 : "healthy ecological state" objective