The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) has entered a crucial implementation phase, as countries are now developing the programmes of measures to maintain or achieve good environmental status for marine waters by 2020.

Together with a wide network of international and national NGOs, Seas At Risk has developed a joint NGO paper with priority measures we want to see implemented as of 2016.

Early and effective public participation and consultation in the development of these programmes is a prerequisite for their success. NGOs have, however, experienced several weaknesses in those processes before now.

With the joint NGO paper ‘Priorities for MSFD programmes of measures’, Seas At Risk aims to improve and facilitate the participation process and to support NGOs and authorities in their work developing their national plans. The paper includes the priority measures and targets NGOs would like to see implemented for a number of the MSFD descriptors, i.e. commercial fish and shellfish, biodiversity, eutrophication, contaminants and marine litter, as well as recommendations for the establishment of an ecologically coherent network of well-managed marine protected areas. It also provides good practice guidance for organising effective public participation and consultation.

Overall, the implementation of the Directive to date shows many weaknesses. In February 2014, the Commission published its review of the 2012 reports by Member States, as required by Article 12 of the MSFD. The ‘Article 12 report’ stated that “The EU is still very far from enjoying healthy oceans and seas. Meeting this objective by 2020, in less than seven years, implies renewed and intensified efforts and rapid and important change in the way Member States, the European Commission, Regional Seas Conventions and other relevant organisations work together”.

The programmes of measures have to be submitted to the Commission in 2015, for entry into force by 2016.
See the joint paper here