DEVOTES recommendations for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

DEVOTES (Development of Innovative Tools for Understanding Marine Biodiversity and Assessing Good Environmental Status) is one of the R&D projects, funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme, that provides scientific support for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD; EU Directive 2008/56/EC). The DEVOTES report highlighted here summarises two years of research to support the implementation process.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD; Directive 2008/56/EC, hereafter ‘Directive‘) is a major step forward for European and indeed global marine environmental management and is an ambitious piece of legislation which extends environmental control out to the 200nm limit. It is globally-leading as no other areas have similar legislation and will allow the integration of other holistic and framework directives such as the Water Framework Directive, Natura 2000 and now Maritime Spatial Planning Directive and the Integrated Coastal Zone Management recommendation. 

The MSFD has all the right aims, in linking the causes of marine changes, the human activities and pressures to their consequences and the means of controlling and managing those causes and consequences. If applied properly, the Directive will ensure the protection of the natural system while also allowing the seas to produce ecosystem services and deliver societal benefits. Hence it is a major step forward from previous Directives by allowing the focus of the assessment and monitoring on the functioning of marine ecosystems rather than just the structure. Finally, it will enforce a regional approach by emphasising that marine management, monitoring and assessment has to be transnational and so it will build on the Regional Sea Conventions and their four decades of work. Because of all of this, it is inevitable that the Directive and its implementation have many challenges.
The outcomes of the first phase of implementation of the MSFD reinforce the role of R&D projects in supporting the Directive. The DEVOTES FP7 project, funded by the European Commission, was set up to contribute to address those challenges and to support the implementation of the MSFD from a scientific perspective. Two years of applied research allows the DEVOTES project to provide scientific recommendations helping to clarify uncertainties and fulfil several gaps highlighted after the assessment of Article 12. The report provides indications and recommendations for the Directive and any criticisms are meant to be constructive and supportive of the successful implementation of the MSFD.
Further information: 

Report: DEVOTES recommendations for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Citation: Patrício J, Teixeira H, Borja A, Elliott M, Berg T, Papadopoulou N, Smith C, Luisetti T, Uusitalo L, Wilson C, Mazik K, Niquil N, Cochrane S, Andersen JH, Boyes S, Burdon D, Carugati L, Danovaro R, Hoepffner N. 2014. DEVOTES recommendations for the implementation of  the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Deliverable 1.5, 71 pp. DEVOTES project. JRC92131