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Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund)

The Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme


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The authors are solely responsible for the content of this report. Material included herein does not represent the opinion of the European Community, and the European Community is not responsible for any use that might be made of it.
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Legislative Drivers & Sectoral Plan Review of TIDE Estuaries

2c. Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC)

In 2008, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) (2008/56/EC) was adopted. The MSFD seeks to establish an integrated framework for the management of marine spaces, and aims at achieving or maintaining a good environmental status for community waters by 2020 at the latest. It is the first legislative instrument in relation to the EU marine biodiversity policy, as it contains the explicit regulatory objective that "biodiversity is maintained by 2020", as the cornerstone for achieving Good Environmental Status (GES). It enshrines in a legislative framework the ecosystem approach to the management of human activities having an impact on the marine environment, integrating the concepts of environmental protection and sustainable use. In order to achieve the objective the Member States have to develop Marine Strategies which serve as Action Plans and which apply an ecosystem-based approach to the management of human activities. The MSFD requires that, in developing their marine strategies, Member States use existing regional cooperation structures, including those under Regional Sea Conventions, covering that marine region or subregion (e.g. OSPAR).

The MSFD is transposed into national law for the four estuaries by:
TIDE Estuary National/Federal Implementation
Humber (England) The Marine Strategy Regulations 2010
Elbe & Weser (Germany) The Federal Water Act (Wasserhaushaltsgesetz (BGBl. I S. 2585) from 31 July 2009, last amendment 24 February 2012 (BGBl. I S. 212).
Scheldt (The Netherlands) Water Act (2009) and Water Decree (2010)
Scheldt (Belgium) Royal Decree on the Marine Strategy of the Belgian sea (2010)


The operational implementation of the MSFD within each of the four TIDE estuaries is shown on four schematic frameworks detailing how the directive has been implemented from a top-down basis (see Appendix 3a-e). As a relatively new directive, the technical details and implementation within each of the TIDE countries is on-going.

UK - Humber

Within England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has taken the role of implementing the MSFD. Technical support in its implementation is being provided by the Centre for Ecology and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to finalise proposals for UK targets and indicators of GES. The MSFD has been transposed into UK law by the Marine Strategy Regulations 2010. Public consultations on the initial assessment of UK seas and the proposals for GES characteristics and associated targets started in 2012.

Germany – Elbe & Weser

At the national level, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) has the lead government role in implementing this directive and is the reporting institution towards the EU Commission.  Through administrative agreements the BLANO (Bund/Länder-Committee North- and Baltic Sea) was installed.

The BLANO functions as a steering group for the implementation of the directive, consists of the five Coastal Federal States (NI, HH, S-H, MV, HB) and the Federal Government represented by the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) as lead, the Ministry for Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS), the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV).  The BLANO is supported by the BSH (Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency).

The Netherlands & Flanders - Scheldt

In The Netherlands, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment is responsible for implementing the MSFD and for the coordination with the other ministries that have responsibilities in the North Sea, such as the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and the Ministry of Defence. Deltares and IMARES have been commissioned to provide scientific advice for the implementation of the MSFD by the Netherlands. The MSFD has been transposed into Dutch law in 2010 via an adaptation of the Water decree (Waterbesluit) in the Water act (Waterwet). In the first half of 2012 the ‘Marine Strategy for the Dutch part of the North Sea 2012-2020, part I’ was made available for public inspection, and was formally established by the Dutch Government later in 2012¹.

In Belgium, the Federal Public Service for Health, Food Chain Security and Environment has been given the role of implementing the MSFD. Technical support in its implementation is being provided by the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM) to finalise proposals for targets and indicators of good environmental status (GES). The MSFD has been transposed into Belgian law by the Royal Decree on the Marine Strategy of the Belgian sea (2010). The Coordination Committee on Internal Environmental Policy (CCIM), a cooperation between the Belgian Federal State and the Regions, provides its advise to the Federal Public Service for Health, Food Chain Security and Environment. Public consultations on the initial assessment of UK seas and the proposals for GES characteristics and associated targets are due to start in 2012.

¹ source: http://www.noordzeeloket.nl/krm/Home/


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