National Marine Plan - A Summary of Objectives and Policies

Summary document containing the objectives and policies from the National Marine Plan.

Strategic Objectives

Marine Strategy Framework Directive: Good Environmental Status Descriptors

Good Environmental Status Descriptors

  • Biological diversity is maintained and recovered where appropriate. The quality and occurrence of habitats and the distribution and abundance of species are in line with prevailing physiographic, geographic and climatic conditions. ( GES 1)
  • Non-indigenous species introduced by human activities are at levels that do not adversely alter the ecosystems. ( GES 2)
  • Populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock. ( GES 3)
  • All elements of the marine food webs, to the extent that they are known, occur at normal abundance and diversity and levels capable of ensuring the long-term abundance of the species and the retention of their full reproductive capacity. ( GES 4)
  • Human-induced eutrophication is minimised, especially adverse effects thereof, such as losses in biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, harmful algal blooms and oxygen deficiency in bottom waters. ( GES 5)
  • Sea-floor integrity is at a level that ensures that the structure and functions of the ecosystems are safeguarded and benthic ecosystems, in particular, are not adversely affected. ( GES 6)
  • Permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect marine ecosystems. ( GES 7)
  • Concentrations of contaminants are at a levels not giving rise to pollution effects. ( GES 8)
  • Contaminants in fish and other seafood for human consumption do not exceed levels established by Community legislation or other relevant standards. ( GES 9)
  • Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment. ( GES 10)
  • Introduction of energy, including underwater noise, is at levels that do not adversely affect the marine environment. ( GES 11)

Strategic Objectives

High-level Marine Objectives

Achieving a sustainable marine economy

  • Infrastructure is in place to support and promote safe, profitable and efficient marine businesses. ( HLMO 1)
  • The marine environment and its resources are used to maximise sustainable activity, prosperity and opportunities for all, now and in the future. ( HLMO 2)
  • Marine businesses are taking long-term strategic decisions and managing risks effectively. They are competitive and operating efficiently. ( HLMO 3)
  • Marine businesses are acting in a way which respects environmental limits and is socially responsible. This is rewarded in the marketplace. ( HLMO 4)

Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society

  • People appreciate the diversity of the marine environment, its seascapes, its natural and cultural heritage and its resources and act responsibly. ( HLMO 5)
  • The use of the marine environment is benefiting society as a whole, contributing to resilient and cohesive communities that can adapt to coastal erosion and flood risk, as well as contributing to physical and mental wellbeing. ( HLMO 6)
  • The coast, seas, oceans and their resources are safe to use. ( HLMO 7)
  • The marine environment plays an important role in mitigating climate change. ( HLMO 8)
  • There is equitable access for those who want to use and enjoy the coast, seas and their wide range of resources and assets, and recognition that for some island and peripheral communities the sea plays a significant role in their community. ( HLMO 9)
  • Use of the marine environment will recognise, and integrate with, defence priorities, including the strengthening of international peace and stability and the defence of the United Kingdom and its interests. ( HLMO 10)

Living within environmental limits

  • Biodiversity is protected, conserved and, where appropriate, recovered, and loss has been halted. ( HLMO 11)
  • Healthy marine and coastal habitats occur across their natural range and are able to support strong, biodiverse biological communities and the functioning of healthy, resilient and adaptable marine ecosystems. ( HLMO 12)
  • Our oceans support viable populations of representative, rare, vulnerable and valued species. ( HLMO 13)

Promoting good governance

  • All those who have a stake in the marine environment have an input into associated decision-making. ( HLMO 14)
  • Marine, land and water management mechanisms are responsive and work effectively together for example through integrated coastal zone management and river basin management plans. ( HLMO 15)
  • Marine management in the UK takes account of different management systems that are in place because of administrative, political or international boundaries. ( HLMO 16)
  • Marine businesses are subject to clear, timely, proportionate and, where appropriate, plan-led regulation. ( HLMO 17)
  • The use of the marine environment is spatially planned where appropriate and based on an ecosystems approach which takes account of climate change and recognises the protection and management needs of marine cultural heritage according to its significance. ( HLMO 18)

Using sound science responsibly

  • Our understanding of the marine environment continues to develop through new scientific and socio-economic research and data collection. ( HLMO 19)
  • Sound evidence and monitoring underpins effective marine management and policy development. ( HLMO 20)
  • The precautionary principle is applied consistently in accordance with the UK Government and Devolved Administrations' sustainable development policy. ( HLMO 21)


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