Can national management measures achieve good status across international boundaries? a case study of the Bay of Biscay and Iberian coast sub-region

Marianna Cavallo, Mike Elliott, Victor Quintino, Julia M. Touza

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Coastal countries have historically implemented management measures to improve the status of their national marine waters and little effort has been made to take coordinated actions to improve the status of the entire region or sub- region of which they are part. At the European level, the adoption of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) aims to remedy this deficiency and to promote coordination among countries and an integrated management of the marine environment. The MSFD requires each country to propose and adopt a programme of measures to achieve Good Environmental Status of the regional seas. This study compares the programmes of measures of the three countries of the Bay of Biscay and Iberian coast sub-region – France, Portugal and Spain – presenting a novel use of multivariate analyses using semi-quantitative policy information. Among the four North-East Atlantic sub-regions, this study area was chosen because it showed the lowest levels of coherence during the first phase of the implementation of the MSFD, according to the European Commission assessment. The results show the differences among the three programmes, confirming the difficulties that neighbouring countries face when they are required to adopt common approaches in the implementation of this multi-sectoral Directive. Most of the measures developed in the sub-region address marine biodiversity but this is through a wide range of actions, covering different pressures and different species/habitats. The integration with other legislation is more similar between Spain and France and differs between these and Portugal. The three countries also recognise the lack of knowledge to perform the economic analysis, in particular in quantifying the costs of and social benefits derived from their measures. It is concluded here that a better use of the regional and European coordination structures is needed to fill the gaps in knowledge and to exchange good practices. More political will is necessary to take action at European and international level to mitigate the impact of those socio-economic activities through joint programmes, for which Community funding is available.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalOcean & coastal management
Early online date8 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018

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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd.This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive
  • management measures
  • regional coordination
  • marine policy coherence

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