The objective of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Marine Directive) is to protect Europe’s marine environment. It aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of marine waters by 2020 through marine strategies which apply the ecosystem-based approach to managing the marine environmental impact of human activities. It is the first piece of EU legislation introduced specifically for marine protection and the only one that requires member states to apply specific measures to reduce marine litter.
The Directive defines GES as “The environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive”. To help interpret what GES means in practice, the Directive sets out eleven descriptors which describe what the environment will look like when GES has been achieved. Additional help to interpret these criteria in a coherent and coordinated way was provided by the Commission Decision on criteria and methodological standards.
The Directive sets out a stepped approach to establishing a marine strategy whereby Member States make an initial assessment of the environmental status of their own waters and then define targets and common indicators. In 2018 they will update their initial assessments to ensure GES is reached by 2020.
The Marine Directive requires Member States sharing a marine region or sub-region to cooperate to ensure that the Directive’s objectives are achieved and to coordinate their actions on each step of the marine strategies using the mechanisms and structures of the Regional Sea Conventions.
KIMO has Observer status on two of the Regional Seas Conventions (OSPAR and HELCOM) and we directly contribute to implementation of the MSFD by developing guidance and participating in working groups. KIMO also directly influences marine policy through our facilitation of OSPAR’s working group of marine litter experts from 15 European countries.