Tag Archives: Seas

Action plan for an integrated maritime policy

Action plan for an integrated maritime policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Action plan for an integrated maritime policy


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Maritime affairs

Action plan for an integrated maritime policy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 October 2007 on an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union [COM(2007) 575 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The creation of an integrated maritime policy requires a precise management framework. The Commission has created a Maritime Policy task force to analyse the interactions between the sectoral policies and coordinate them. It has also requested help from the Agencies of the European Union (EU) with maritime-related functions to draw up new policies. In addition, the development of new maritime policies involves consultation of civil society and all stakeholders as well as comprehensive impact assessments.


The prime objective of an integrated maritime policy for the EU is to maximise sustainable use of the oceans and seas while enabling growth of the maritime economy and coastal regions. In order to ensure the competitiveness, safety and security of the sector, the European Commission commits to:

  • creating a strategy to alleviate the consequences of climate change in coastal regions;
  • enhancing professional qualifications and studies in the maritime field to offer better career prospects in the sector;
  • creating a European maritime space without administrative or customs barriers as well as a comprehensive maritime transport strategy for 2008-18 to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of maritime transport in Europe;
  • issuing guidelines on the application of environmental legislation relevant to ports and proposing a new ports policy taking account of the multiple roles of ports;
  • encouraging the formation of multi-sector clusters and promoting technological innovation in the shipbuilding and energy sector to ensure economic competitiveness without harming the environment;
  • supporting international efforts to reduce pollution of the atmosphere and greenhouse gas emissions attributable to ships;
  • taking steps against discharges into the sea, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and any other destructive practices.

A second key objective is building a knowledge and innovation base for the maritime policy. Marine science, technology and research enable analysis of the effects of human activity on marine systems and put forward solutions to alleviate environmental degradation and the effects of climate change. The European Commission plans to:

  • present a comprehensive European strategy for marine and maritime research;
  • improve understanding of maritime affairs for the 7th framework programme;
  • support the creation of a European marine science partnership with the aim of establishing dialogue between the scientific community, the industry and policy makers.

An integrated policy also has the objective of delivering a higher quality of life in coastal and outermost regions, reconciled with economic development and environmental sustainability. The Commission therefore aims in particular to:

  • encourage coastal tourism;
  • prepare a database on Community funding for maritime projects and coastal regions;
  • create a Community disaster prevention strategy in these regions;
  • develop the maritime potential of outermost regions and islands.

The EU intends, moreover, to promote its leading position in international maritime affairs. An integrated policy enables improved management of maritime affairs and the creation of EU priorities in this field. This is of particular importance given the global character of the problems encountered by the maritime sector. Therefore, the Commission will encourage:

  • cooperation in maritime affairs under the European Enlargement Policy, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Northern Dimension and structured dialogue with major partners. The application of international agreements by partners is essential;
  • the Member States to ratify and apply the relevant instruments.

The final objective of this integrated policy is raising the visibility of Maritime Europe and improving the image of this sector’s activities and professions. To this end, the Commission proposes positive actions and tools such as:

  • launch of educational tools (Atlas of the Seas) and instruments to highlight our common maritime heritage;
  • celebration of an annual European Maritime Day from 2008.


Three instruments are of particular importance for creating common maritime policies:

  • a European network for maritime surveillance to ensure the safe use of the sea and the security of the EU’s maritime borders, as these problems are transnational in nature. The Commission particularly encourages cooperation between coastguards and the relevant agencies, and undertakes to improve the interoperability of surveillance systems;
  • integrated coastal zone management (land and sea) to enable maritime spatial planning. While it is the Member States who have competence in this field, Europe-wide commitment is essential. The Commission will propose a roadmap in 2008 to facilitate the development of this instrument;
  • a complete and accessible source of data and information on natural and human activity on the oceans to facilitate strategic decision-making on maritime policy. Measures will be taken to establish a European Marine Observation and Data Network and to create multi-dimensional mapping of Member States’ waters.


The Communication follows on from the consultation launched in the Green paper on a Maritime Policy for the EU, by which the European Council of June asks the Commission to develop an action plan.

Related Acts

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 October 2010 establishing a Programme to support the further development of an Integrated Maritime Policy [COM(2010) 494 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Proposal establishes a programme aimed at supporting the measures planned to further the development and implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy. It is part of the continuation of preparatory actions and pilots projects to be launched between January 2011 and December 2013. The programme will provide financial resources for achieving the objectives and priorities set out in the action plan which was adopted in 2007.
Codecision procedure (COD/2010/0257)

Commission Communication of 8 October 2010 – Marine Knowledge 2020: marine data and observation for smart and sustainable growth [COM(2010) 461 – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication details an action plan which makes up one of the three cross-cutting tools provided for by the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy. This action plan is divided into three strands aimed at improving the reliability of marine data, making it more user-friendly and less expensive and stimulating competitiveness amongst the users of this data.

Commission Communication of 15 October 2009 – Towards the integration of maritime surveillance: A common information sharing environment for the EU maritime domain [COM(2009) 538 – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication relates to the second cross-cutting tool provided for by the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy. It sets out guiding principles for the development of a common information sharing environment for the EU maritime domain and launches the process towards its establishment. To achieve this, coordination and coherence between the European Commission, the Member States and interlocutors should be enhanced.

Communication from the Commission of 25 November 2008 – Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning: Achieving common principles in the EU [COM(2008) 791 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Maritime Spatial Planning is an instrument of the Integrated Maritime Policy which helps to improve coordination between the parties involved and optimises the use of the seas and oceans. This Communication defines a set of fundamental principles inspired by current practice and existing legislation. These principles will serve as the basis for the discussions leading to the drafting of a common approach concerning Maritime Spatial Planning.

Report from the Commission of 15 October 2009 – Progress report on the EU’s integrated maritime policy [COM(2009) 540 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission reviewed progress carried out under the framework of the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) since the adoption of the 2007 Communication and defined the six strategic directions for the future:

  • integration of maritime governance: EU institutions, Member States and coastal regions shall establish effective structures for the purpose of cross-sectoral collaboration and consultation with stakeholders. These structures shall enable the potential of all the synergies between maritime-related sectoral policies to be used. As much as is possible, it should prevent sectoral policies from being isolated from each other.
  • development of cross-cutting policy tools such as maritime spatial planning, exhaustive knowledge and databases on maritime spaces and integrated maritime surveillance. These tools can unlock considerable economic investments and improve the management of European maritime spaces.
  • definition of the boundaries for maritime activities in order to ensure sustainability: in the context of the Framework Directive “Strategy for the marine environment”, these boundaries take into consideration the impact of the development of maritime activities on the seas and oceans.
  • sea-basin strategies: these strategies contribute to the success of the IMP. They enable the priorities and tools of the policy to be adapted to the specific geographic, economic and political context of each large European sea-basin.
  • strengthening the international dimension of integrated maritime policy: the EU must take a leading role in improving global maritime governance, as it has done in the matter of piracy or with regard to destructive fishing practices.
  • sustainable economic growth, employment and innovation: the EU shall define overall, coherent economic priorities in order to promote the development of intra-EU maritime transport, stimulate investment, advance the concept of clean ships and promote energy generation from the sea, etc. It shall also ensure that maritime policy and coastal areas are fully taken into account in the debate on territorial cohesion.

The Commission shall publish a document on the implementation of these six strategic directions in 2010.

Reducing discards and by-catches

Reducing discards and by-catches

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Reducing discards and by-catches


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Reducing discards and by-catches

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 28 March 2007 on a policy to reduce unwanted by-catches and eliminate discards in European fisheries [COM (2007) 136 final – not published in the Official Journal].


By-catches * and discards * are a serious problem in European fisheries. Two main reasons for discards of marine organisms into the sea are highlighted.

The first is economic. Fish are sold at very different prices depending on their size, quality and species. There are therefore strong economic incentives to discard fish, as the storage space onboard is used for high-value organisms.

The second reason is associated with certain existing regulatory instruments in the fisheries sector. This applies to the use of minimum landing sizes and also to total allowable catches (TACs).

Extent of discards

According to the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), the level of by-catch discards is, depending on the seas, fisheries and trawls, between 20 and 60 percent of the catch weight for the period 2003-05.

Consequences of discards

By-catches and their associated discards have serious consequences such as:

  • a waste of societal resources;
  • lower future catch opportunities with catching of juvenile species;
  • immediate reduction in the spawning biomass if mature individuals are caught;
  • negative impact on the marine ecosystem and on biodiversity.

In most cases, the fish or crustaceans caught and discarded into the sea will already be dead or have very little chance of survival.

Instruments and measures

A combination of instruments and measures to be adapted to each individual fishery is needed to reduce by-catches and gradually eliminate discards. The introduction of a discard ban puts the onus on fisheries by guiding them in the right direction. The practical and economic realities of the fisheries also need to be taken into account. The instruments of this new policy consist of:

  • incentives to improve selectivity of fishing gear;
  • real-time closure of high risk locations for by-catches;
  • flexibility in the use of quotas;
  • levying charges on by-catches and expropriating them;
  • preferential access to fisheries granted on the basis of by-catch track records;
  • introduction of information systems informing fleets where the by-catch risk is lowest.

In parallel, the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations will play an essential role in the implementation of additional measures to eliminate discards. Certain measures may benefit from the potential support of the European Fisheries Fund.


Despite the obvious difficulty in enforcing the discard ban and putting an end to illegal discards, it is vital for the Commission to enforce the rules to guarantee effective implementation.

Monitoring programmes play an important role and must be part of a general system involving:

  • quantified and systematic analysis of catch and landing figures;
  • the use of electronic logbooks for real-time reporting of catch composition;
  • monitoring and control of fishing gear;
  • stakeholder involvement and cooperation.

Furthermore, landed catches that cannot be sold should be carefully monitored to prevent them bringing illicit profits for fishing vessels. Data for all fleets should be compiled and analysed so that the necessary steps can be taken in the event of infringement of the rules.

Socio-economic repercussions

Generally speaking, implementation could result in net short-term cost increases and losses of income. Other repercussions may be linked to the closure of certain fishing areas forcing vessels to go elsewhere or travel further to fish.

Nevertheless, in the longer term, various economic benefits are to be expected, associated with larger and healthier stocks.


This communication discusses the problem of discards into the sea as a priority and outlines the main measures to be implemented to reduce by-catches and eliminate discards into the sea. From 2008, regulations will be drawn up to cover all Community fisheries.

Key terms used in the act
  • By-catch: The accidental catching of non-target species or species that do not meet certain criteria for fisheries, including marine mammals, birds, turtles and other marine species.
  • Discards: The proportion of catches representing the total organic matter of animal origin that is thrown or emptied into the sea for whatever reason. Plant matter and post-harvest waste, such as offal, are not included. Discarded animals may be dead or alive.