Searica Intergroup_webThe European Parliament’s Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas (SEARICA) Intergroup, organised a roundtable meeting in June to discuss the issues surrounding nature conservation and its relation to the marine environment in Europe.

The meeting, which was titled “The maritime dimension of the birds and habitats directives” and was led by SEARICA Vice-Chair, MEP Ricardo Serrão Santos, considered the areas covered by the Birds and Habitats directives, which constitute the Natura 2000 Network.

The roundtable discussed the maritime dimension of the Birds and Habitats Directives by bringing together representatives of the European Institutions, the private sectors interested, the marine research community and NGOs. The European Parliament was represented by MEPs Gesine Meissner, Ulrike Santos and Keith Taylor.

Both opportunities and constraints were discussed with the aim of finding new synergies and solutions. It was also an opportunity to debate the fitness check of the Birds and Habitats Directives.

The speakers, representing different maritime activities (fisheries, offshore wind energy, boating industry,) explained how the implementation of the two directives impacts their sectors. The NGOs and MedPAN stressed the lack of efficient governance in Natura 2000 maritime protected areas’ management.

The roundtable also gave James Green, Senior Policy Planner for Orkney Islands Council, the opportunity to address the difficulties his Island faces due to the implementation of the Directives.

Mr Green stated that the assessment requirements of the Directives need to be revisited. He called for a more effective involvement of local communities at the earliest phase in the selection of the Natura 2000 Areas so that both marine conservation and sustainable economic and social development are achieved in coastal areas.