Marine Strategy Framework Directive

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is European legislation, which aims to protect the marine environment. It requires the application of an ecosystem-based approach to the management of human activities, enabling a sustainable use of marine goods and services.

In order to implement the Directive each member state is required to: 

  • describe what they consider is a clean, healthy and productive sea i.e. Good Environmental Status  
  • monitor and assess the quality of their seas against Good Environmental Status, and
  • ensure they take appropriate action by 2020 to maintain or achieve Good Environmental Status.

This three step process started in 2012, and is repeated every six years.  The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) is the lead body for the implementation of the MSFD and is supported by a number of other departments and state agencies, including we the Marine Institute (MI). Progress to date, includes the initial assessment describing the 2012 status of Ireland's marine environment. In 2020, the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government published an updated assessment, called, 'Article 17 update to Ireland's Marine Strategy Part 1: Assessment (Article 8), Determination of Good Environmental Status (Article 9) and Environmental Targets (Article 10)'. The report can be found through this link.

Link to Ireland's Marine Atlas

Under a Service Level Agreement (SLA) we provide technical and scientific support and advice to the DHLGH and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) on the implementation, particularly in the areas of monitoring and assessing biodiversity, food webs, commercial fish, seafloor integrity, eutrophication and contaminants in the marine environment. For more information click here

Ireland’s Marine Atlas (right) was developed to assist the implementation of the MSFD, as well as the 2014 Marine Spatial Planning Directive and is a valuable source of spatial information for all marine stakeholders.  The atlas contains information of the marine environment and its ecosystems as well as on the location of various human activities and installed infrastructure.