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Developing management measures

A key step of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) cycle is the development of a programme of measures. As part of the development each EU country is required to consult with their stakeholders before finalising the programme of measures. Through conversations with the governments in the Celtic Seas we identified that the area the Celtic Seas Partnership can add most value is by working with stakeholders to develop measures that can feed into and support the government process.

We have used a combination of stakeholder workshops online surveys, and consultation with experts to develop ideas for measures and identify priority descriptors based on stakeholder interests and current gaps/weaknesses.

A simplified diagram of the overall process

Developing MSFD measures

Implementing measures

By the process outlined above, five task groups were established to explore specific initiatives in more detail. Following our second multi-national workshop in Paris in May 2015, we decided to press ahead with three:

Marine Litter

The group is exploring how the international Eco-Schools programme can help address the problem of marine litter in the Celtic Seas.  Eco-Schools are well established in all of the Celtic Seas countries. They follow a common process and set of environmental themes, including litter. The Task Group has developed plans for a pilot project where Eco-Schools, working with partners in their communities, would undertake a programme of activities on marine litter.  The programme would focus on: increasing awareness of the sources and causes of marine litter; changing public behaviour, policies and business practices to prevent marine litter; and directly reducing marine litter.  The Task Group is now investigating potential sources of funding for the pilot. The aim is to involve 20-25 schools from across the Celtic Seas.


The group set out to establish a scheme that provides equipment and training for fishermen and other sectors to monitor the state of the marine environment. Following a series of discussions, they contracted Salacia Marine to further investigate what would be most useful from stakeholders’ perspectives. A workshop involving DEFRA, BIM, fishing representatives, scientists and eNGOs was held in March 2016 in Bristol. Participants agreed to ‘develop a strategy to make industry-collected data scientifically credible and salient to inform policy and its implementation.’ It was felt this was a unique opportunity as there was a common purpose identified between key stakeholders, most notably industry and eNGOs, which hadn’t existed before. There will now be a further meeting of the group to begin developing a strategy.

Non-indigenous species

The aim of the task group is to identify and address gaps in the coverage of biosecurity protocols for marine non-indigenous species, and to create an operational action plan at the Celtic Seas scale to promote best practice.  Existing initiatives and legislation are in place, such as the EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species, the ICES Code of Practice on the Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms and the Marine Pathways project. However, it’s important to evaluate how far these measures will go towards reducing the risk of the spread of invasive species. The group has 39 members from France, Ireland and the UK, many of whom met at the Paris workshop.  Progress is being made towards awarding a contract to pull together existing guidelines on non-indigenous species and write a review and gap analysis of legislation.

Two of the task groups drew to a natural conclusion:

Food Webs

The long-term goal of the initiative was to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of food webs, resulting in a network of sea-users that can contribute to monitoring them. After exploring a potential scheme it was decided that a stakeholder-led citizen science initiative would be limited in its ability to advance understanding of food webs to the required level. The group noted that the Marine Ecosystems Research Programme, funded by NERC and Defra, is already addressing evidence gaps in this area. Subsequent efforts to broaden the initiative to a more bottom-up approach to raising awareness were unable to identify a specific proposal. Following the Paris workshop in May 2015, it was decided that the work had come to its natural end.

Underwater Noise

This group aimed to develop learning materials to inform and guide noise mapping in the Celtic Seas. Underwater noise is a complex emerging field and, within the group, there was a wide range of knowledge and specialisms. The group highlighted a number of important gaps in our knowledge of underwater noise and suggested a clear focus on achieving specific objectives with a specific audience was needed for a successful initiative. Following a number of discussions around these issues, the group was unable to reach a consensus on a single initiative, but an appetite for raising awareness around underwater noise in the Celtic Seas remains. At a minimum, the noise task group provided a forum for an exchange of ideas and information around the issue, and may lead to further collaboration at the Celtic Seas scale.

If you’d like more information email us .