Europe Seas

Prod-ID: DAT-208-en
Created 14 Apr 2021 Published 16 Apr 2021 Last modified 15 Dec 2022
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This page was archived on 17 Nov 2022 with reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/data/europe-seas-2 was published)
The present dataset compiles the marine regions and subregions listed in Article 4 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), together with other surrounding seas of Europe. The MSFD marine regions and subregions map was developed to support DG Environment and EU Member States in their implementation of the MSFD. It represents the current state of understanding of the marine regions and subregions and is subject to amendment in light of any new information which may be produced.

GIS data

Europe seas
  • Geodatabase
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  • Geopackage
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  • INSPIRE Metadata
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Additional information

In 2008, the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) was adopted with the aim to protect more effectively the marine environment across Europe. The MSFD aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of the EU's marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend.

In order to achieve its goal, the Directive establishes European marine regions and sub-regions on the basis of geographical and environmental criteria. The Directive lists four European marine regions – the Baltic Sea, the North-east Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea (art. 4). These are located mainly within the geographical boundaries of the existing Regional Sea Conventions cooperation between the Member States of one marine region and with neighbouring countries which share the same marine waters.

One challenge of the Directive is that the MSFD does not specify the boundaries of the marine regions and subregions, and no formal definition of the marine regions and subregions exists elsewhere. As such, a process was initiated in 2010 to help define the individual marine boundaries under the MSFD Common Implementation Strategy.

The map of the marine regions and subregions describes the geometric delineation of those identified within the MSFD, art. 4. These regions are, to the extent possible, harmonized with other EU legislation where maritime boundaries are of relevance and specifically, the biogeographic regions of the Habitats and Birds Directive as well as the Maritime regions of Maritime Spatial Planning Directive. The map was agreed by the MSFD Committee in 2016.

For details in regard to the individual boundaries and process, please refer to the Technical document on the "Delineation of the MSFD Article 4
 marine regions and subregions".



Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage