The Marine Strategy Framework Directive aims to achieve good environmental status of the marine waters of the European Union by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend. The Marine Institute, the national agency with responsibility for marine research and development, is assisting my Department in managing the implementation of the Directive.
The first stage in implementing the Directive involves an initial assessment of marine waters, the determination of good environmental status and the establishment of environmental targets and associated indicators. An atlas of the marine environment, which is essentially a repository of the data accumulated for the assessment, is also being compiled. Work commenced on the first stage in February 2012 and is currently being finalised. When this work is completed and reported to the European Commission, the various reports will also be available to the public for information and comment.
As part of the preparation for wider public participation, a document entitled Ireland’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive – Implementation was published on my Department’s website in December 2012. The publication is designed to build a greater awareness of the Directive and a dedicated e-mail address has been set up to facilitate comment from interested parties.