Directive 2008/56/CE of the European Parliament and the council of 17 June 2008 known as the "Marine Strategy Framework Directive" led European member states to take the necessary measures to reduce the impact of activity in this environment in order to achieve or maintain a good environmental status by 2020.

In France, the directive was included in the environmental code (articles L. 219-9 to L. 219-18 and R. 219-2 to R. 219-17) and applies to metropolitan areas under French sovereignty or jurisdiction, divided into 4 marine subregions: Channel – North Sea, Celtic Seas, Bay of Biscay, Western Mediterranean.


Marine Subregion Boundaries


For each marine subregion, an action plan for the marine environment (PAMM) has been drawn up and implemented. This action plan is made up of 5 elements:

  • an initial assessment of the ecological state of marine waters and the environmental impact of human activity (completed in 2012);
  • the definition of good environmental status for these waters based on qualitative descriptors (completed in 2012);
  • the definition of environmenal objectives and associated indicators with a view to achieving good environmental status (completed 2012);
  • monitoring programme with a view to permanently assessing the state of marine waters and regularly updating environmental objectives  (for 2014);
  • programme of mesures which must make it possible to achieve or maintain good environmental status (for 2015/2016).


The Different Stages of MSFD


1- Protecting, preserving and preventing the deterioration of marine ecosystems. In cases of severe degradation, the ecosystems' functioning must be re-established.

2- Preventing and progressively eliminating pollution

3- Managing the pressures of human activity (fishing and other services) in the marine environment in a way which is compatible with achieving a sustainable environment. The ecosystems must be able to cope with both environmental and man-made changes, whilst at the same time enabling the sustainable use of the environment for future generations (Common Fisheries Policy for example).

Main Characteristics

- An objective-based approach, implementing a calendar with the aim of achieving and maintaining Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020.

- To define a complete list of the characteristics of pressures and impacts on the marine environment (see implementation of the MFSD).

- Geographical extension of the marine area under the jurisdiction of European States (except for France's overseas territories) up to three million km².

- A "regional" ecosystem approach, by which the member states bordering a given geographical area will cooperate within the framework of shared integrated management, thus taking into account use of the waters, resources and natural heritage.


1. Marine Subregion Boundaries

An action plan for the marine environment (PAMM) for the zones under French sovereignty or under the jurisdiction of the North-east Atlantic, as defined by the convention for the protection of the North-east Atlantic Marine Environment and the region of the Mediterranean Sea, drawn up for each of the following marine subregions:

- North-east Atlantic region: "Channel-North Sea" subregion; "Celtic Seas" subregion; "Bay of Biscay" subregion;

- Mediterranean Sea region: "Western Mediterranean" subregion.

2. Elements of the Action Plan for the Marine Environment

Within the framework of the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive which aims to achieve or maintain good environmental status by 2020, and in accordance with the measures laid out in article L.219-9 of the environmental code and its foreseen regulations, the administrative authority for each subregion must draw up and implement this action plan for the marine environment (PAMM), as composed of the following five elements:

Element 1: an initial assessment of the current ecological state of the marine waters and the environmental impact of human activity in these waters, comprising three parts:
- an analysis of the essential particularities and characteristics of the ecological state of these waters;
- an analysis of the main impacts and pressures on the ecological state of these waters, particularly those caused by human activity;
- an economic and social analysis of the use of the waters and of the cost of the degradation of the marine environment;

Element 2: the definition of good environmental status for these same waters based on qualitative descriptors;

Element 3: a series of environmental objectives and associated indicators with a view to achieving good environmental status;

Element 4: a monitoring programme for constant monitoring and assessment, wtih regular updates or renewal of objectives;

Element 5:  programme of mesures with the aim of achieving or maintaining good environmental status in these waters.