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Brussels, 24 March 2011

Commission seeks views on how to reduce pressure on Europe's coastal and marine areas

Coastal and marine areas offer significant opportunities for economic development, leisure and living. They host rich but fragile biodiversity. Transparent planning and management of European waters are needed to balance the interests at play against sustaining the long-term benefit of coastal and marine resources to society. With these objectives in mind, the European Commission has launched a public consultation to explore options for future EU action on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management. The Commission is seeking the views of all interested individuals and organisations. The consultation runs for eight weeks.

The coasts and seas around the EU face increased pressure and competition for space and resources to accommodate maritime activities and environmental protection. But so far there are only a few cases where Member States, either on their own or in cross-border cooperation, have implemented coordinated coastal and maritime spatial planning systems.

The concept of Maritime Spatial Planning has been developed as a part of the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy. It refers to a process by which maritime space is allocated between multiple and potentially competing uses. By bringing sea-related activities in different sectors together within a common planning framework, Maritime Spatial Planning can be used to prevent potential conflicts, maximise synergies, and ensure the efficient and sustainable use of scarce maritime resources. The European Commission has already developed guiding principles to stimulate transparency, predictability, coherence and stability of Maritime Spatial Planning activities in Europe, in the interest of sustainable economic growth.

With increasing pressures from urbanisation, tourism and the effects of climate change, problems are more acute in coastal waters and adjacent coastal land. These areas are facing serious problems of habitat destruction, water contamination, coastal erosion and resource depletion. The lack of coordination between multiple development plans for coastal areas hinders efficient investment decisions and optimal allocation of space. The European Commission has been working since the 1990s to identify and promote measures to remedy this deterioration and improve the overall situation. The EU has recommended to coastal Member States to set up comprehensive strategies to ensure sustainable coastal development along their shores, an approach known as Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). In September 2010 the EU adopted an international Protocol to reduce pressures in the Mediterranean – the first significant step towards developing international legislation for Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

The public consultation addresses the main challenges and opportunities for Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management and invites views from all interested parties on how best to tackle them. The Commission will decide whether to propose future EU action in these fields by the end of 2011.

Further information:

The consultation can be found at:

More details in Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Maritime Spatial Planning:

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