Environmental NGOs have welcomed the proposal for a Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and Coastal Management as a tool to help achieve sustainable maritime development, but want to ensure that crucial environmental commitments are not traded off against sectoral ones in the process.

Environmental NGOs have welcomed the proposal for a Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and Coastal Management as a tool to help achieve sustainable maritime development, but want to ensure that crucial environmental commitments are not traded off against sectoral ones in the process.

The proposed Directive includes Good Environmental Status among its objectives alongside several sectoral objectives from other policy areas, including energy, fisheries and transport.

Seas At Risk, Birdlife International, WWF and the North Sea Foundation welcome the requirements for the coordination between countries, the application of the ecosystem approach and the use of strategic environmental assessment and public consultation.

Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk said: “With the current intensive use of the coastal zone and the projected Blue Growth, a more coordinated and sustainable approach to how our oceans are used is indeed essential. But maritime spatial planning is not merely about allocating space, making trade-offs and reducing conflicts. It should provide a long term vision that helps guide today’s decisions to ensure that our seas are restored to good environmental status in 2020.”

Maritime Spatial Planning should safeguard the environmental goals set by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Habitats and Birds Directives – these should not be diluted by trade-offs with sectoral objectives. Work on the MSP Directive should in particular not further delay the designation and management of ecologically coherent networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Johanna Karhu, Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer at BirdLife Europe said: “Effective maritime planning and coastal management should ensure that the right activities take place in the right places and at the right times, but this will only be achieved if the environment is placed at the centre of these processes. Any EU action in these areas must have the health of the ecosystem, which supports so much economic development, at its heart.”

Proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management

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