Marine regions and subregions under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Prod-ID: DAT-175-en
Created 16 Jun 2017 Published 31 Aug 2017 Last modified 04 Oct 2017
3 min read
The marine regions and subregions map and correspondent layers provide information about the geographic boundaries of the areas listed in Article 4 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The map has been 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

Marine regions
  • shapefile
    Download file
  • spatialite
    Download file
  • SDI metadata set
    Download file
Marine subregions
  • shapefile
    Download file
  • spatialite
    Download file
  • SDI metadata set
    Download file
Marine regions and subregions map service
  • WMS service
    Download file
Coordinate reference system (ESRI friendly)



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".


Related content

Figures produced

Related briefings

See also

Document Actions
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100