Maritime Spatial Planning Directive needs strong environmental commitment

Posted on 14 March 2013    
From its hidden underwater beauty to its whale-watching waters, the British Isles contain a staggering array of marine wonders. Whitley Bay, north-east England.
Brussels, 14th March 2013. Environmental NGOs have welcomed the proposal for a Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and Coastal Management as a tool to help achieve sustainable maritime development, but want to ensure that crucial environmental commitments are not traded off against sectoral ones in the process.
The proposed Directive includes Good Environmental Status among its objectives alongside several sectoral objectives from other policy areas, including energy, fisheries and transport.
Seas At Risk, Birdlife International, WWF and the North Sea Foundation welcome the requirements for the coordination between countries, the application of the ecosystem approach and the use of strategic environmental assessment and public consultation.
Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk said: “With the current intensive use of the coastal zone and the projected Blue Growth, a more coordinated and sustainable approach to how our oceans are used is indeed essential. But maritime spatial planning is not merely about allocating space, making trade-offs and reducing conflicts. It should provide a long term vision that helps guide today’s decisions to ensure that our seas are restored to good environmental status in 2020. ” 
Maritime Spatial Planning should safeguard the environmental goals set by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Habitats and Birds Directives – these should not be diluted by trade-offs with sectoral objectives. Work on the MSP Directive should in particular not further delay the designation and management of ecologically coherent networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Johanna Karhu, Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer at BirdLife Europe said: “Effective maritime planning and coastal management should ensure that the right activities take place in the right places and at the right times, but this will only be achieved if the environment is placed at the centre of these processes. Any EU action in these areas must have the health of the ecosystem, which supports so much economic development, at its heart.”
For more information contact:
- Ann Dom, Assistant Director, Seas At Risk, +32 2 893 0965
- Alec Taylor, Marine Policy Officer, RSPB (BirdLife Europe),
- Iwan Ball, Marine Programme Manager (Oceans Governance), WWF UK,
- Thomas Rammelt, North Sea Foundation,
1) Seas At Risk is a European association of non-governmental environmental organisations working to protect and restore to health the marine environment of the European seas and the wider North East Atlantic.
2) BirdLife Europe is the European division of BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources.
3) The North Sea Foundation is an environmental NGO in the Netherlands that advocates the protection and sustainable use of the North Sea marine ecosystem. Its activities are focussed on clean shipping, sustainable fisheries, sustainable energy, clean water and marine protected areas.
4) WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
From its hidden underwater beauty to its whale-watching waters, the British Isles contain a staggering array of marine wonders. Whitley Bay, north-east England.
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