The adoption of the proposed European Marine Strategy Directive is an opportunity for a comprehensive policy for protecting, improving and sustainably using Europe's environmentally degraded seas. It calls for an ecosystem-based approach to management where humans are regarded as a key system component. Although the proposed wording has been the subject of fierce debate, the central policy goal remains achieving "Good Environmental Status". The interpretation of "good" is key to implementation and relates to human values and worldviews. We demonstrate how these vary widely across Europe. Solution of fundamental considerations such as the assignation of reference states, the balance between precautionary and evidence-based action, the degree of subsidiarity, and conservation strategies including marine protected areas, will ultimately depend upon public understanding, involvement in and support for the Directive. The social element, critical to effective adaptive management, requires greater attention within the context of a regional seas geographical framework. (c) 2007 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
- Environmental Sciences
- Marine & Freshwater Biology