, , , ,

Similar to the Water Frameworks Directive (WFD), the Marine Strategy Frameworks Directive (MSFD) is based on achieving Good Ecological Status (GES), but specifically for marine waters. Adopted on 17 June 2008, and written into Irish legislation in 2011 the MSFD further aims to have GES established by 2020 (Marine Institute, 2013). In order to achieve GES by 2020, each Member State is required to develop a strategy for its marine waters (WWW1). Through State, academic, and private consultancy advice and research, the MSFD aims to apply an ecosystem based approach to the management of human activities while still maintaining sustainability of marine resources for future generations.

Marine strategies include (ibid.):

  • The initial assessment of the current environmental status of national marine waters and the environmental impact and socio-economic analysis of human activities in these waters (refer to WWW2)
  • The determination of what GES means for national marine waters
  • The establishment of environmental targets and associated indicators to achieve GES by 2020
  • The establishment of a monitoring programme for the ongoing assessment and the regular update of targets
  • The development of a programme of measures designed to achieve or maintain GES by 2020
  • The process is cyclical and the second cycle starts again in 2018 .

As part of this ecosystem based approach, several factors are considered under the Directive:

Biodiversity Invasive Species
Eutrophication Exploitation of Fish stocks
Food Webs                 Emerging Contaminants (i.e. Hormone Medications, Agricultural Run Off, Untreated Sewage etc.)
Marine Litter  Seafloor Integrity

Tackling these factors, will help alleviate many of the major pressures being places upon the coastal marine environment. However, before any ecosystem based approach could be undertaken it was necessary to carry out initial assessment of each of the above factors. This was carried out in a 500,000km2 area surrounding Ireland’s coastline. With the major issues identified being exploitation of fish stocks by commercial fishers and nutrient enrichment (including eutrophication) (Marine Institute, 2013). This process is to be re-evaluated every 6 years, with the definition of Good Ecological Status constantly improved. This allows for new information to be incorporated so any and all targets, characteristics, and indicators can be further improved and reviewed.

Seán  and  Orla-Peach


Marine Institute (2013). Ireland’s marine strategy framework directive article 19
summary report initial assessment, GES and target and indicators.

WWW1 – Legislation: The Marine Directive

WWW2 – Ireland’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive Article 19