Maritime Affairs

Commission launches initiative on sustainable management of marine and coastal areas

Commission launches initiative on sustainable management of marine and coastal areas

Commission launches initiative on sustainable management of marine and coastal areas

Commissioner Damanaki

Today the Commission launched a proposal to improve the planning of maritime activities at sea and the management of coastal areas. The proposal – which takes the form of a draft directive – aims to establish a common European framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management in EU Member States, with a view to ensuring that the growth of maritime and coastal activities and the use of resources at sea and on coasts remain sustainable.

Human and economic activities such as offshore wind energy, submarine cable and pipeline routes, shipping, fishing and aquaculture are increasing in marine waters and coastal areas, but too little coordination can lead to competition for space and pressure on valuable resources. The proposed action will require Member States to map these activities in maritime spatial plans in order to make more efficient use of seas, and develop coastal management strategies that will coordinate measures across the different policy areas that apply to activities in coastal zones. Respecting the minimum requirements proposed by the Directive, Member States will need to ensure that their maritime planning and coastal management supports sustainable growth, while involving relevant stakeholders and cooperating with neighboring states.

Better coordination would bring benefits in areas such as, for example, the connection of offshore wind installations to energy grids on land, or work on infrastructure to protect coastlines against erosion and climate change that also affects activities in coastal waters.

Using a single instrument to balance all interests should also increase certainty for investors and reduce the administrative burden for national administrations and operators, while preserving ecosystem services. Currently, in some countries one needs to contact up to 8 administrative agencies before having the permit for an aquaculture site. With the one-stop-shop principle proposed in the Directive, such administrative complexity will be done away with and time and money will be saved. It is estimated that increased business certainty and reduced administrative burden will lead to economic benefits up to EUR 1.6 billion across the EU, particularly for SMEs. Studies have also shown that, for example, the acceleration of investments in wind-farm and aqua-farm activity would generate between EUR 60 million for an acceleration of 1 year to 600 million for an acceleration of 3 years by 2020.