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The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

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What is the strategy about?

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires European member states, including Ireland, to reach good environmental status (GES) in the marine environment by the year 2020 at the latest. The directive is very similar to the Water Framework Directive, but the focus is on the marine environment.

Good environmental status in the marine environment means that the seas are clean, healthy and productive and that human use of the marine environment is kept at a sustainable level.

Under the directive, our marine waters must be assessed against an agreed set of standards across a number of important environmental areas (e.g. biodiversity, fish stocks, and contaminants).  Based on the assessment, appropriate environmental targets and indicators must be set and programmes of measures put in place to reach GES. The following timeframe has been agreed:

Who is working on this?

Because of the wide scope of marine issues, four other government departments work with us to complete the work required by the directive. These are the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources.  The Marine Institute will also have a major role to play in the delivery of the Directive.

What difference will this work make?

While the main purpose of the directive is to protect and preserve the marine environment, making sure it is implemented properly will lead to sustainable development in the areas identified. It will also help the development of Ireland’s ocean economy:

  • Shipping
  • Maritime transport
  • Water based tourism
  • Sea fisheries
  • Aquaculture
  • Oil
  • Gas
  • Renewable energy (including, wind and wave).

Where can I get further information?

For further information on the Marine Strategy Framework directive, please contact the marine and foreshore section of the department at LoCall 1890 20 20 21 or +353 (0)1 888 2000.

The rates charged for the use of 1890 (LoCall) numbers may vary among different service providers.

Alternatively, you can view details of the recent consultation on the directive