Mr Alan Kelly T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, today (27 November, 2015) welcomed the publication of a public consultation document entitled ‘Marine Strategy Framework Directive Ireland Programme of Measures Public Consultation Document’. This document presents the elements being considered by Ireland for inclusion in a finalised Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) National Programme of Measures, the objective of which is to achieve good environmental status (GES) in Irish marine waters.
The overall aim of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is to achieve or maintain GES of the European Union's marine environment by 2020. It represents the environmental pillar of the European Union’s Integrated Maritime Policy and it provides the benchmark by which sustainable use of the seas can be measured. Its implementation requires a multi-disciplinary approach.
The finalised Programme of Measures proposal is due to be submitted to the European Commission by 31 March 2016.
The Minister said that the purpose of the public consultation process is to foster community engagement with, and to heighten awareness of, the aims of MSFD and its on-going implementation in Ireland.
‘It provides an opportunity for members of the public to make submissions and comments which will inform the finalised version of the National Programme of Measures as well as influencing future cycles of the MSFD project’, the Minister said.
A Public consultation process has already been completed in relation to the ‘Initial Assessment’ and ‘Monitoring Programme’ phases of the Directive and input from interested parties is now welcome in relation to the actions needed to achieve compliance with provisions of the Directive.
Submissions and comments are invited on the draft Programme of Measures, on or before Friday, 29 January 2016. A dedicated email address, email@example.com has been set up to facilitate feedback from stakeholders including eNGOs, industry, the general public and other interested parties.
‘The proposed programme, across relevant state entities, represents an ambitious commitment of resources in the light of the prevailing economic circumstances and underlines Ireland’s commitment to the marine environment’ the Minister added.
‘The MSFD requires Member States to publish the programme of measures that they intend to use to help achieve GES. The purpose of this public consultation is not only to fulfil a public participation obligation but to enrich the process and secure economic and environmental benefits of the marine resource for the current generation and generations yet unborn. I would encourage anyone interested in the integrity of the marine resource to engage with the process begun today’ the Minister concluded
Further information on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is available at:
Notes for the Editor
The MSFD was adopted in 2008 (Directive 2008/56/EC) and it establishes a framework within which Member States are obliged to develop marine strategies, the aim of which is to achieve or maintain good environmental status (GES) in the marine environment by the year 2020.
Good environmental status (GES) is defined as ‘the environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic condition, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for users and activities by current and future generations’.
The Directive requires an assessment to be made of our marine waters against an agreed set of standards across a number of important environmental areas (e.g. biodiversity, fish stocks, and contaminants). Once the assessment is made, appropriate environmental targets and indicators must be established and programmes of measures put in place to achieve or maintain GES.
Responsibility for the Directive
The Directive is similar to the Water Framework Directive but relates to the marine environment. Because of the cross-cutting nature of marine issues, four other Departments are intrinsically linked to the process – Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. In addition, the Marine Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency play a major role in the delivery of the Directive’s objectives.
Impact of the Directive
While the primary purpose of the Directive is to protect and preserve the marine environment, proper implementation will underpin the sustainable development of the areas identified for the development of Ireland’s ocean economy including:
- Maritime transport
- Water based tourism
- Sea fisheries
- Oil /Gas
- Renewable energy (including, wind and wave)
The main objectives of the Directive are:
- to protect and preserve the marine environment;
- prevent its deterioration; and
- restore marine ecosystems where practicable.
Marine area under Ireland’s Control
The MSFD applies to the area of marine waters over which a Member State exercises jurisdictional rights in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Marine waters, as defined by the MSFD, also include the seabed and subsoil under the water column.
Ireland’s MSFD Assessment Area is approximately 490,000 square kilometres. This is equivalent to approximately ten times the land mass area
Map of the marine waters over which Ireland holds MSFD responsibilities).
Next Steps in the Process:
Overarching Objectives and Target Dates for the 1st Cycle of implementation of the Directive
Complete Initial Assessment of Irish marine waters; establish environmental targets and indicators.
Finalise a Monitoring Programme
Establishment a Programme of Measures (POMs) to achieve GES
Implementation of POMs
Achieve Good Environmental Status
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Web site: www.environ.ie