EU - The European Commission has welcomed the European Council's agreement to improve how seas and coastal areas are used.
The EU's General Affairs Council has adopted legislation to improve the planning of maritime activities.
The new Maritime Spatial Planning Directive will help Member States develop and coordinate various activities taking place at sea so that they are as efficient and sustainable as possible.
EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki welcomed the Council's green light by stating: "We want to make the growth of maritime sectors both smart and sustainable.
"The Directive reconciles the diverse uses of the sea and will make access to maritime space more predictable.
"This will help avoid potential conflicts between users, so that businesses can enjoy a more stable and assured environment, and so that we can better manage the impact of human activities on the marine environment."
Commissioner for the Environment Mr Janez Potocnik added: "This is a good example of how economic development and safeguarding the environment can go hand in hand. Good planning means a win on both counts."
The Directive is a cornerstone in the EU's Blue Growth strategy, allowing more efficient implementation of EU legislation for both economic and environmental gain.
With Maritime Spatial Planning, operators and developers will have greater certainty about their investments and should also see a reduction in red tape.
Each relevant EU Member State must now transpose the Directive into their national legislation and to nominate a Competent Authority in charge of its implementation by September 2016.
Although national maritime spatial plans must comply with a number of minimum requirements set by the Directive, countries are free to tailor the content of the plans to their specific economic, social and environmental priorities, as well as to their cultural traditions and legal context.
TheFishSite News Desk