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Steps toward a shared governance response for achieving Good Environmental Status in the Mediterranean Sea

Sergio Cinnirella, CNR-Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research
Rafael Sardà, CSIC-Centre d'Estudis Avançats de Blanes
Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, University of Seville
Ruth Brennan, The Scottish Association for Marine Science
Alberto Barausse, University of Padova
John Icely, University of Algarve
Tiziana Luisetti, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
David March, Sistema d'observació i predicció costaner de les Illes Balears
Carla Murciano, CSIC-Centre d'Investigació i Desenvolupament
Alice Newton, University of Algarve
Tim O'Higgins, The Scottish Association for Marine Science
Luca Palmeri, University of Padova
Maria Giovanna Palmieri, University of East Anglia
Pascal Raux, University of Western Brittany
Sian Rees, University of Plymouth
Joan Albaigés, CSIC-Centre d'Investigació i Desenvolupament
Nicola Pirrone, CNR-Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research
Kerry Turner, University of East Anglia


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The Mediterranean region is of fundamental importance to Europe given its strategic position. The responsibility for its overall ecosystem integrity is shared by European Union Member States (EU-MS) and other Mediterranean countries. A juxtaposition of overlapping governance instruments occurred recently in the region, with the implementation of both the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) for EU-MS and the Ecosystem Approach Strategy (ECAP) for all Mediterranean countries, including EU-MS. Both MSFD and ECAP are structured around vision-driven processes to achieve Good Environmental Status and a Healthy Environment, respectively. These processes have clear ecosystem-based, integrated policy objectives to guarantee the preservation and integrity of Mediterranean marine ecosystem goods and services. However, adoption of these instruments, especially those related to the new EU-MS directives on marine policy, could result in a governance gap in addition to the well-known economic gap between the EU and the non-EU political blocs. We identify two complementary requirements for effective implementation of both MSFD and ECAP that could work together to reduce this gap, to ensure a better alignment between MSFD and ECAP and better planning for stakeholder engagement. These are key issues for the future success of these instruments in a Mediterranean region where discrepancies between societal and ecological objectives may pose a challenge to these processes.

Key words

ecosystem approach; environmental status; governance; legislation implementation; marine environment; Mediterranean; shared vision

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087