The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC of June 17th, 2008 (MSFD) establishes a framework for community action in the field of marine environment policy and leads each Member State to build a strategy in order to reach or maintain a Good Ecological Status (GES). It was published on June 25th, 2008. It was transposed into the Environment Code: articles L 219-9 to L 219-18 and R 219-2 to R 219-17 and it applies to zones under sovereignty or French jurisdiction, divided into 4 marine sub-regions: the English Channel and North Sea, the Celtic Seas, the Bay of Biscay and the western Mediterranean Sea.

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MSFD booklet

The action plan for the marine environment

For each marine sub-regions, an action plan for the marine environment (PAMM) was developped and implemented, in order to achieve or maintain good environmental status in this area by 2020 at the latest.

Marine environment action plan

The 11 descriptors of good environmental status

Since 2010, a set of public establishments (ANSES, BRGM, CNRS, Ifremer, MNHN, SHOM) provide a scientific and technical work to define the Good Environmental Status, under the scientific and technical coordination of the Ifremer and the Marine Protected Areas Agency.

MSFD descriptors

1. Biological diversity

Biological diversity is maintained. The quality and occurrence of habitats and the distribution and abundance of species are in line with prevailing physiographic, geographic and climatic conditions.

2. Non-indigenous species

Non-indigenous species introduced by human activities are at levels that do not adversely alter the ecosystems.

3. Commercially exploited species

Populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock.

4. Marine food webs

All elements of the marine food webs, to the extent that they are known, occur at normal abundance and diversity and levels capable of ensuring the long-term abundance of the species and the retention of their full reproductive capacity.

5. Eutrophication

Human-induced eutrophication, is minimised, especially adverse effects thereof, such as losses in biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, harmful algae blooms and oxygen deficiency in bottom waters.

6. Sea-floor integrity

Sea-floor integrity is at a level that ensures that the structure and functions of the ecosystems are safeguarded and benthic ecosystems, in particular, are not adversely affected.

7. Hydrographical conditions

Permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect marine ecosystems.

8. Contaminants

Concentrations of contaminants are at levels not giving rise to pollution effects.

9.Health issues

Contaminants in fish and other seafood for human consumption do not exceed levels established by Community legislation or other relevant standards.

10. Marine litter

Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment.

11. Marine energy

Introduction of energy, including underwater noise, is at levels that do not adversely affect the marine environment.

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