A study commissioned by the European Commission has analysed different possibilities for policy measures aimed at improving the marine environment. The study’s recommendations are a source of information for Member States when implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and include examples of cost effective measures for the protection of the marine environment.

A study commissioned by the European Commission has analysed different possibilities for policy measures aimed at improving the marine environment. The study’s recommendations are a source of information for Member States when implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and include examples of cost effective measures for the protection of the marine environment.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the first piece of all encompassing European legislation specifically aimed at the protection of the marine environment as a whole. The Directive’s ultimate aim is the achievement of good environmental status (GES) in the EU’s marine waters by 2020.

In order to achieve this goal, Member States will have to develop, by 2015, programmes of measures which must enter into force by 2016 at the latest. The study "Economic assessment of policy measures for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive" has delivered a searchable database of 140 possible measures, divided in 4 main categories: (i) command-and-control (or regulatory measures); (ii) market-based instruments; (iii) social instruments; and (iv) technical, technological and research-oriented measures. The study also analyses in detail 5 of those 140 measures identified by the Commission’s consultants.

TARGET SETTING

The study comes to a variety of conclusions and recommendations. Key among these is the recognition that environmental targets must be clear and measurable, so that progress towards the objectives can be ascertained. This is of particular significance at this precise point in time, as by July this year Member States will have to set environmental targets for all the different components of the marine environment and for pressures caused by human activity, in order to drive progress towards good environmental status.

REVENUE RECYCLING

Another key conclusion relates to the potential of revenue recycling. Measures such as taxes or levies on certain activities which have impacts on the marine environment are often unpopular. Using the revenues created by such taxes to invest in cleaner technologies in order to mitigate those impacts has been shown to increase the environmental gains and to enhance the level of acceptance of these kinds of measures by stakeholders.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

The consultants also highlighted the management difficulties posed by the transboundary nature of several activities and pressures on the marine environment. International cooperation at EU or United Nations level is often necessary in order to manage pressures such as fisheries or shipping, which can lead to long and highly politicised decision-making processes. Another difficulty relates to the remote nature of maritime activities, which poses challenges in terms of control and enforcement.

These difficulties must be taken into consideration when designing measures to protect the marine environment. Making sure that there is early involvement and buy-in from stakeholders, and putting in place strict controls and adequate enforcement can help enhance the efficacy of the measures

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