14 April 2008

EU adopts Marine Strategy to save Europe's seas and oceans

The European Parliament and Council have agreed on the final text of the new Directive. It provides a new European integrated maritime policy, including its founding principles and main objectives, the required governance framework and appropriate tools for integrated policy-making. All together, this represents the delivery of a new vision for Europe's oceans and seas as decided in the European Commission's Strategic Objectives for 2005-2009.

The new integrated maritime policy will truly encompass all aspects of the oceans and seas in a holistic, integrated approach: the EU will no longer look only at compartmentalised maritime activities, but will tackle all economic and sustainable development aspects of the oceans and seas, including the marine environment, in an overarching fashion.

The Action Plan enumerates a set of actions that the European Commission proposes to take as a first step towards the implementation of a new, integrated maritime policy for the European Union. A new integrated governance framework for maritime affairs also requires cross-cutting tools to help policy makers and economic and environmental actors to join up their policies, interlink their activities and optimise the use of the marine and coastal space in an environmentally sustainable manner.

These tools comprise: the development of a more integrated network of surveillance systems for European waters, the development of maritime spatial planning, assisted by a road map drawn up by Commission, and an EU Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODNET) to optimise and bring coherence to the current fragmented initiatives that gather data on oceans and seas. The NODC and its European SeaDataNet network have the ambition to play an active role in the further planning and implementation of EMODNET.

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