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UK consultation on the MSFD

St Ives MSFD

The UK government has opened a consultation on its Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) Programme of Measures.

The Programme of Measures is a key step in the MSFD cycle. Let’s remind ourselves of the cycle again…

Step 1: each member state must carry out an assessment of their seas and set targets and indicators under each descriptor. These targets and indicators will be used to determine if their seas have reached ‘Good Environmental Status’.

Step 2: each member state must develop and implement a monitoring programme so that they can track their progress towards reaching their targets.

Step 3: each member state must develop a programme of measures* that are needed for them to achieve good environmental status in their seas. The programme of measures can include existing and new measures

Step 4: once the programme of measures have been consulted on and agreed each member state must then implement those measures

Step 5: it’s time for each member state to evaluate the work that they have done so far and identify any changes that are needed in the next cycle.

The UK government is currently at step three; they have developed a programme of measures and are now consulting on it before moving on to implementation. Each step can only be as strong as step one – in setting their targets and indicators they are defining their level of ambition for improving the health of their seas.

Unfortunately, in the UK government’s case they missed the opportunity to make a real difference to the health of our seas when they set unambitious targets back in 2012. This has had a knock on effect on their programme of measures. It reflects their lack of ambition and contains only existing and already planned measures. The UK government does not feel that any new measures are needed to restore and protect the Celtic Seas.

The UK government is not alone, all member states in Europe have set unambitious targets, making the goal of truly reaching Good Environmental Status in Europe’s seas by 2020 highly unlikely.

We’ve talked about the MSFD being a ground-breaking piece of EU policy with the potential to restore and protect Europe’s seas, but this is only possible if member states take their responsibility of safeguarding their seas seriously. A lack of action will result in a lack of impact.

It’s more important than ever to remind the UK government of their responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the Celtic Seas to support people and wildlife. Have your say on the programme of measures – do you feel let down and uninspired by their proposals? Would you like to see more action to tackle some of the threats that currently face our seas?

This is your opportunity to influence the programme of measures. Measures suggested and developed by stakeholders are more likely to be successful as they will have already secured buy-in from the people expected to follow them. This should also reduce the amount of time and money needed for ensuring compliance.

The consultation is open until 24 April 2015. Details on how to respond are here – https://consult.defra.gov.uk/marine/msfd-programme-of-measures