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The end of 2012 saw the successful completion of the WWF UK led LIFE+ PISCES project. PISCES brought together key marine stakeholders to consider how to implement the ecosystem approach in the Celtic Sea. Through the project stakeholders worked together to produce a highly-praised practical guide for implementing the ecosystem approach through marine policy, with particular focus on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The Celtic Seas Partnership follows on from the success of PISCES, building on the stakeholder momentum that was generated and the key project outputs. It operates on a greater scale than PISCES as it covers the Celtic Seas and not just the Celtic Sea. Yes, there is a difference, although the almost identical names do cause a little confusion. The Celtic Seas includes the Celtic Sea but also expands to cover a much bigger geographical area.
Celtic Seas

Policy context

Many of the threats facing Europe’s seas require a coordinated approach between countries to tackle them effectively. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive was introduced in 2008 by the European Union to address this and ensure the conservation and sustainable use of Europe’s seas.

Historically countries and marine users around the world have managed their seas and activities in isolation from each other; this doesn’t work for the marine environment. Seas can’t be defined by arbitrary lines on a map – a fish won’t stop swimming when it reaches a boundary.

For our seas to be healthy and activities to be sustainable, they need to be managed in a coordinated way that makes sense for the environment. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires countries to work together to manage the marine environment in a collaborative way.

The main goal of the directive is to achieve or maintain ‘Good Environmental Status’ in Europe’s waters by 2020. ‘Good Environmental Status’ will be achieved by protecting the marine environment, preventing its deterioration and restoring it where practical, while using marine resources sustainably.

European countries are now working towards this common goal but at the moment there are very few platforms for countries and different marine industries to come together for discussion or exchanging information at this scale.For this directive to be successful we must have the means and opportunities to talk to each other, to communicate with governments and to share data and information.

That’s where the Celtic Seas Partnership comes in…

The project will:
• develop innovative and collaborative ways of working to feed into the Marine Strategy Framework Directive consultation process in France, Ireland and the United Kingdom
• build understanding of the ecosystem approach to marine management