Today marks the first implementation deadline regarding the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

Today marks the first implementation deadline regarding the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

By this date, Member States should have transposed the Directive into their own national legislation and the European Commission should have published its decision on the criteria and methodological standards for the implementation of the Directive.

The MSFD is the first piece of EU legislation aimed at the protection of Europe’s marine environment as a whole. Its main goal is to achieve Good Environment Status (GES) in all EU waters by 2020 by applying an ecosystem-based approach to the management of human activities which have an impact on the marine environment.

The MSFD was published in 2008 and it stipulates that by the 15th July 2010, the Member States of the EU should transpose the Directive’s provisions into their national legislative frameworks, and designate the authority (or authorities) competent for the implementation of the Directive.

By the same date, the Commission should have published criteria and methodological standards to be used by the Member States when implementing the Directive, so as to ensure consistency and to allow for comparison between Marine Regions or Sub-Regions. These criteria have been agreed upon by the Commission, but they are still going through scrutiny by the European Parliament, and are therefore only expected to be published in September.

Seas At Risk has been actively engaged in the preparation of the Commission’s decision on criteria and methodological standards. The next challenge relates to a further implementation milestone on the 15th July 2012 whereby Member States must conduct an initial assessment on the status of their marine waters. By this date they must also define what they understand to be GES in their marine waters and set environmental targets and associated indicators to drive their progress towards achieving GES.

The MSFD has great potential to bring about the protection and restoration to a heavily impacted European marine environment. The next stage however is crucial in order to accomplish such objectives: ambitious environmental targets are key to Member States taking the much needed and necessary actions to restore our ocean and seas to health.

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