The chamber of deputies approves the marine environment protection law
With this Law, a legal framework is established for the first time to achieve a good condition of the marine environment and its protection and conservation, and the recovery of marine ecosystems and the prevention and elimination of the contamination of the marine environment.
The Plenary Session of the Congress approved on 16 December the Marine Environment Protection Law, which is designed to tackle marine environmental protection aspects not regulated up to now in Spanish legislation and plan in an integrated way policies in the marine environment, as well as incorporating the EU framework Directive on this matter.
Although a few sector regulations related to the marine environment existed in Spanish legislation derived from international agreements, up to now there was no uniform and complete regulatory framework to guarantee structuring human activities at sea so that the marine environment is not threatened, according to the ecosystemic approach.
With this Law, a legal framework is established for the first time to achieve a good condition of the marine environment and its protection and conservation, and the recovery of marine ecosystems and the prevention and elimination of the contamination of the marine environment in the context of an integrated maritime policy.
Three key elements make up this Marine Environment Protection Law: Marine Strategies as a planning tool; the creation of the Protected Marine Area Network and the incorporation of environmental criteria in the uses of the marine environment.
Spain will specify a series of Marine Demarcations in which specific actions will be carried out according to Marine Strategies determined for each one of them. In this sense, the Marine Strategies are designed to guarantee that the joint pressure of the activities carried out in the marine environment are maintained at levels compatible with achieving a good environmental condition. The Strategies will include assessing the marine waters, defining their good environmental condition, fixing environmental objectives and adopting a programme to achieve this condition and its tracking.
Different uses of the sea should be carried out bearing in mind the Marine Strategy of each Demarcation. Their economic and social impact will be born in mind in the determination of the measures and their profitability will be analysed, including a cost-benefit analysis.
One of the keys to the success in the application of this new Law is that it introduces the obligation of the sector policies that are carried out or that could affect the marine environment having to be compatible with and being adapted to the objectives of the marine strategies. This implies the active participation and collaboration of all the Administrations that carry out activities in the marine environment, also arbitrating channels for the participation of organisations, groups and citizens in general in the processes of drawing up these strategies.
The scope of application of the Law is limited to the marine environment in which Spain exerts the sovereignty or jurisdiction, to the Fishery Protection Area of the Mediterranean and to the coastal waters when water legislation is not sufficient.