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Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) -  the environmental pillar of the European Union’s (EU) Integrated Maritime Policy - was adopted in July 2008.
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What is happening?

The aim of the MSFD is “Good Environmental Status” (GES) in European marine waters by 2020.​ EU Member States with marine territories are required to introduce a series of measures to achieve and maintain GES according to eleven key descriptors of environmental status.

What does ICES do?

ICES scientific community and advisory services have played a key role in providing scientific guidance to define GES indicators and standards. The development of these indicators and standards at European level is on-going with specification of GES at the regional and national levels, conduction of initial assessments, and revision of current monitoring activities.

ICES work on the MSFD is guided by ICES Council Steering Group on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which reviews current work and identifies future areas where ICES can meet the needs of its Member States, stakeholders, and clients.

ICES services (Data Centre, Training Programme, and expert networks) inform the MSFD implementation process, and can be expanded to meet future specific MSFD requests.

Other ICES contributions to the MSFD:

  • ICES has reviewed Descriptors 3, 4, and 6, and a provided advice to the European Commission on the revision of the MSFD
  • ICES has been leading in the development and implementation of Descriptor 3: commercially exploited fish and shellfish.
  • ICES is a partner in various externally funded MSFD related projects, such as STAGES.
  • ICES Training Programme provides a number of courses relevant to the MSFD.
  • ICES maintains substantial international databases with long-term data series on marine living resources and the marine environment required for defining targets and setting thresholds for MSFD indicators. ICES is uniquely positioned to synthesize approaches that integrate across indicators, and to craft and tailor outputs and recommendations to the objectives of the Directive.

Using our extensive network, ICES is creating frameworks and initiating processes to further the application of the ecosystem approach, specifically with regard to the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. This is carried out through cooperation with relevant organizations and countries around the European regional seas as well as drawing on the experience of Large Marine Ecosystem projects.


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Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

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