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Kelly Announces Marine Monitoring Public Consultation Process

Published on Thursday, 24 Jul 2014

Kelly Announces Marine Monitoring Public Consultation Process


Mr. Alan Kelly T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, today (Thursday 24 July 2014) published a consultation document entitled ‘Marine Strategy Framework Directive Article 11 Monitoring Programmes’. This document presents the elements being considered for inclusion in Ireland’s finalised Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) Monitoring Programmes which is due to be submitted to the European Commission by 15 October 2014.

The Minister said that the purpose of the public consultation process is to foster community engagement with, and to achieve a greater awareness of, the MSFD and its on-going implementation in Ireland.

‘It provides an opportunity for members of the public to make submissions which will inform the finalised version of the National Monitoring Programmes as well as future stages of the MSFD project’, the Minister said.

Submissions and comments are invited on the draft Monitoring Programmes, on or before Friday, 12 September 2014. A dedicated email address, has been set up to facilitate feedback from stakeholders including eNGOs, industry, the general public and other interested parties. Also, a response sheet to assist parties in making structured submissions is available on the Department’s website.

The aim of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES) in European Union's marine environment by 2020. It represents the environmental pillar of the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy and its implementation requires a multi-disciplinary approach, including the development of targets, indicators and measures relating to the characteristics and pressures present within EU waters.

‘The MSFD requires Member States to publish the monitoring programmes they intend to use to measure progress toward achieving GES. The purpose of this public consultation is not only to fulfil a public participation obligation but to enrich the process and secure economic and environmental benefits of the marine resource for the current and future generations’ the Minister concluded

Further information on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is available on the Department’s website at the following location:

Notes for the Editor
The MSFD was adopted in 2008 (Directive 2008/56/EC) and establishes a framework within which Member States are obliged to develop marine strategies, the aim of which is to achieve or maintain good environmental status (GES) in the marine environment by the year 2020 at the latest. 
Good environmental status (GES) is defined as ‘the environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic condition, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for users and activities by current and future generations’.

The Directive requires an assessment to be made of our marine waters against an agreed set of standards across a number of important environmental areas (e.g. biodiversity, fish stocks, and contaminants).  Once the assessment is made, appropriate environmental targets and indicators must be established and programmes of measures put in place to achieve or maintain GES.

Responsibility for the Directive
The Directive is similar to the Water Framework Directive but relates to the marine environment.  Lead responsibility for the MSFD rests with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government but because of the cross-cutting nature of marine issues, four other Departments are intrinsically linked to the process – Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.  In addition, the Marine Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency play a major role in the delivery of the Directive’s objectives. 
Impact of the Directive
While the primary purpose of the Directive is to protect and preserve the marine environment, proper implementation will underpin the sustainable development of the areas identified for the development of Ireland’s ocean economy:
•         Shipping
•         Maritime transport
•         Water based tourism
•         Sea fisheries
•         Aquaculture
•         Oil /Gas
•         Renewable energy (including, wind and wave)

The main objectives of the Directive are:
• To protect and preserve the marine environment
• Prevent its deterioration and
• Restore marine ecosystems where practicable

Ireland’s Assessment Area
The MSFD applies to the area of marine waters over which a Member State exercises jurisdictional rights in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Marine waters, as defined by the MSFD, also include the seabed and subsoil under the water column.

Ireland’s MSFD Assessment Area is approximately 490,000 square kilometres and our overall marine area is equivalent to approximately ten times the land mass area.

Next Steps in the Process:

        Overarching Objectives and Target Dates for the 1st Cycle of implementation of the Directive

Complete Initial Assessment of Irish marine waters; establish environmental targets and indicators.
Completed 2013
Finalise a Monitoring Programme October 2014
Establishment a Programme of Measures (POMs) to achieve GES  2015
Implementation of POMs   2016
Achieve Good Environmental Status 2020

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