Which marine spatial plans exist?

France notified the adoption of the four sea-basin strategies (East Channel – North Sea, North Atlantic-West Channel, South Atlantic, Mediterranean) to the European Commission in February 2020. These strategies are the result of the first stages of MSP for each sea-basin and include: an initial assessment (environment and human activities), strategic objectives and preliminary spatial plans (vocation map plus fact sheets).

Sea-basin strategy documents are the legal solution chosen by France to address the requirements of both the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and MSP Directive and specify the conditions for implementing the National Strategy for the Seas and Coast according to local specificities.

The four strategic documents were drafted in cooperation with stakeholders and subject to an environmental assessment by the French Environmental Authority. They were submitted for public consultation until 4 June 2019 at: Public opinions were collected, and a summary report of the opinions expressed was produced. French institutions and neighboring states consultations were also conducted during this period.

Following consultation with the public and concerned bodies, the first two parts of each sea-basin strategy were adopted by the coordinating Prefects in September/October 2019.

Legal framework

On 8 August 2016, the MSP Directive was transposed into French legislation through the entry into force of article 123 of Law n° 2016-1087 for the second “reconquest of biodiversity, nature and landscapes”. The article modifies the French Environmental Code through the introduction of the notion of maritime spatial planning defined as “the process by which the State defines and organises human activities at sea in an ecological, economic and social perspective. It does not apply to activities related to defense or national security”.

The law indicates the sea-basin strategy documents (“documents stratégiques de façade” – DSF) as the main tools through which MSP is implemented. In addition, article 123 introduces the National Strategy for the Seas and Coast into French legislation and simplifies policy governance on biodiversity through the merging of several existing regional agencies in two consultative bodies: the National Biodiversity Committee and the National Nature Conservation Council.

The modalities for implementing article 123 are further elaborated through the political Decree n° 2017-724 adopted on 3 May 2017. The text defines the scope, objectives and content of the “document stratégique de façade” as main tools through which each French coastline integrates and combines the implementation of several EU legislative texts and policies.


Ministry of the Sea
Directorate of Maritime Affairs – Delegation for Sea and Coastal Affairs

Tour Séquoia
92055 La Défense Cedex, France

Last updated: April 2021
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