27. European MPA Network.jpg



Europe is no exception to the global pattern of threatened marine ecosystems. European waters have a long history of human use, including thousands of years of fish and invertebrate harvesting. This has resulted in depletions of fish stocks and habitat degradation, leading the governing bodies of the European Union (EU) to mandate ocean protection initiatives among member states. The most notable of these policy initiatives is the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), adopted by the EU in 2008. The stated goal of the MSFD is for member states to use an ecosystem-based management approach in order to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of their waters by 2020.. In order for member states to comply with the MSFD they must ensure that their biological and physical marine features adhere to the 11 qualitative descriptors of GES for the maintenance of biological diversity, habitat quality, and sustainable harvest levels of fish and shellfish stocks. Member states must put in place measures to achieve GES, with the establishment of coherent networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) as the only mandated measure.