Europe Seas

Prod-ID: DAT-208-en
Created 11 Dec 2018 Published 11 Dec 2018 Last modified 15 Dec 2022
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This page was archived on 16 Apr 2021 with reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/data/europe-seas-1 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
  • INSPIRE Metadata
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MPA assessment areas

The spatial extent of the MPA assessment areas was defined as the marine waters surrounding the EU countries whose outer limit is defined by the 200 NM boundary from the coast (possibly coinciding with formally recognised EEZ boundaries) or the equidistance (in cases of opposite neighbouring EU countries), or by the presence of a boundary defined by an agreed treaty. However, since no formal boundary of this map exists and since this limit coincides with the boundary of the maritime area (water column) submitted by EU Member States under MSFD Articles 8, 9 and 10 in the Eionet Central Data Repository (CDR) ), the decision was taken to use the MSFD Region/Subregion boundary shapefile assembled in 2013 by ETC/ICM (ETC/ICM, 2013), based on EU Member States reported data integrated with information from the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) Maritime Boundaries (version 7) to delimit the MPA assessment areas

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Marine Regions and Subregions


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