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Marine Strategy Framework Directive

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This directive aims to protect the marine environment across Europe.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) was brought into UK law under the Marine Strategy Regulations 2010 which came into force on 15 July 2010.  For further details please see the website (external link).

The Directive requires Member States to take action to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES) in their seas by 2020. This means:

  • protecting the marine environment
  • preventing its decline
  • restoring it where practical
  • using marine resources sustainably.

For an overview of the MSFD please see our animation.

For the first time the UK has a marine strategy designed to look after our seas for future generations. This strategy has been delivered in three stages in line with the Directive. These three stages will all be reviewed on a six yearly basis.

Marine Strategy Part One – Initial Assessment

The final UK Initial GES Assessment, characteristics and targets, which form the UK Marine Strategy part 1 (external link), were published in December 2012 and submitted to the Commission.

Marine Strategy Part Two – Monitoring Programmes

The monitoring programmes were developed with UK Administrations and take into account comments received as part of the consultation. These form the UK Marine Strategy Part Two (external link) which sets out the monitoring programmes to assess progress towards achieving GES by 2020. Part Two was published in July 2014 and submitted to the Commission. For further information visit the website (external link).

Marine Strategy Part Three – Programme of Measures

A Programme of Measures to enable us to achieve or maintain GES must be established by end 2015 and fully implemented by end 2016. We have been working collaboratively with the other UK Government’s to develop our first UK Programme of Measures. A joint consultation took place on 30 January 2015 and closed 24 April 2015.  The government response to the consultation and the full UK Marine Strategy Part Three (external link) have now been published.

Next Steps

The next step is to ensure the measures published in Part Three of the UK Marine Strategy are implemented by the end of 2016.

MSFD is a cyclical process and in 2018 there will be a second assessment of the status of our seas.   We will be able to see if our measures are enabling us to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status in our waters by 2020.  An updated Marine Strategy Part One will be published in 2018 following a public consultation in 2017.

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