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Marine Strategy Framework Directive

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) came into force in 2008 with the overall aim to promote sustainable use of the seas through fulfilling economic growth and conserving marine ecosystems.

The main goal of the MSFD is to achieve or maintain ‘Good Environmental Status’ in Europe’s waters by 2020 and it emphasises the use of an ecosystem approach to management in order to achieve this.

‘Good Environmental Status’ has not yet been fully defined, but there are 11 descriptors to guide people’s evaluation. This Directive will be transposed into Member State legislation by July 2010 and Each Member State will be producing a strategy for its marine region in cooperation with other Member States that share those waters. The Member States must also produce an initial assessment of the state of its seas, determine what ‘Good Environmental Status’ is, identify targets and indicators and set up a monitoring programme. Finally, by 2016 they must draw up a programme of measures that is designed to achieve or maintain ‘Good Environmental Status’.

There are many activities that will influence the marine environment achieving 'Good Environmental Status' and some of these are already regulated through other policies and measures (such as the Common Fisheries Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy). This is recognised in the MSFD where it states that there is a need for policies, agreements and legislative measures to be coherent and environmental concerns integrated.

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