The seas and coast of Wales are extremely important to our wellbeing.

Around 60% of the Welsh population live and work within our coastal zone whilst 70% of the coastline is recognised for its environmental importance and covered by a number of conservation designations.  Wales is dependent on the trade, tourism, energy and fishing industries that our seas provide.

The marine environment in Wales is at the forefront of change from a policy level. The following documents provide the framework.

Marine Spatial Planning

Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA), Welsh Government is responsible for developing and creating marine plans in Wales. Welsh Government is currently working to prepare a single marine plan for Wales.

The purpose of the marine plan is to help manage marine activities in a sustainable way that considers economic, social and environmental issues. The plan will support and inform the marine licensing system.

Marine Strategy Framework Directive

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive has been brought into UK law under the Marine Strategy Regulations 2010 which came into force on 15 July 2010. Under the Directive, Member States must take action to achieve or maintain Good Environmental Status (GES) for their seas by 2020. This means:

  • protecting the marine environment
  • preventing its decline
  • restoring it where practical
  • using marine resources sustainably

Water Framework Directive

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) introduces a holistic approach to the management of water quality and establishes a system for the protection and improvement of all water bodies, including rivers, estuaries, groundwater, lakes and coastal waters. The Directive is the foundation for changes that will take place in the management of the water environment in Wales.

Shoreline Management Planning

The SMP is a non-statutory document outlining how the shoreline should be managed in the future, balancing the scale of the risks with the social, environmental and financial costs involved, and avoiding, where possible, adverse impacts on adjacent coastal areas. It must take account of existing planning initiatives and legislative requirements and use the best present knowledge on the possible effects of climate change and sea level rise. The plan should inform, and be supported by, the statutory planning process.


It is important to get involved and help shape the future sustainable use of our coastal and marine environment. Have your views heard:

  • Respond to consultation
  • Attend a PCF meeting
  • Become a PCF member
  • Contact PCF directly