EU Commissions asks ICES to review MSFD Descriptor 3

The European Commission is undertaking a review (Hugh of all the Descriptors (aspects of the marine environment) which define “good environmental status” in the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), and has indicated to Marinet that this review may even lead to a “revision” of the legal terms of each Descriptor. To see the advice to Marinet, click here.

The European Commission has asked the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to advise the Commission on the review of MSFD Descriptor 3 which covers commercial fish and shellfish populations, and ICES convened a workshop on 5th September in order to commence that process. Marinet sent advice to the ICES workshop, and that advice may be viewed here.

Marinet is concerned that EU Member States are developing and implementing a working definition of Descriptor 3 which fundamentally devalues the current legal wording of the Descriptor in the MSFD legislation, and that the EU Commission is doing little, if anything, to arrest this devaluation. If this devaluation were to be brought into effect, it is Marinet’s view that Descriptor 3 would become virtually worthless, and that fish stocks in EU would not be restored to a good environmental status or a “healthy condition”. Restoring EU seas to a healthy condition is a primary objective in law of the MSFD legislation, and the Directive requires this to be achieved by 2020.

Accordingly, Marinet has written further to ICES on 13th September to set out in detail the nature of its concerns, and the text of this letter may be seen here.

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