The European Union's (EU) general affairs council has launched new legislation that will allow shipping industries to coordinate and improve their maritime activities.
The new legislation, maritime spatial planning (MSP), is designed to improve environmental standards in Europe and create a safe link between coastal and maritime activities.
Welcoming the development, European Commission maritime affairs and fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "We want to make the growth of maritime sectors both smart and sustainable.
"The directive reconciles the diverse uses of the sea and will make access to maritime space more predictable.
"This will help avoid potential conflicts between users, so that businesses can enjoy a more stable and assured environment, and so that we can better manage the impact of human activities on the marine environment."
As the first step in the EU's blue growth strategy, the new directive is expected to allow efficient implementation of EU legislation for both economic and environmental growth.
According to the EU's marine strategy framework directive, MSP is a key implementation tool designed to reduce the impact of maritime activates on a given sea area.
With the new legislation in place, ship operators and developers can now plan how to use the seas and coastal areas and plan their investments accordingly.
Each relevant EU member state must now transpose the directive into their national legislation and nominate a competent authority in charge of its implementation by September 2016.
The MSP aims to help member states achieve good environmental status in their waters by 2020.
Image: The EU's maritime spatial planning directive will allow member states to reduce the impact of maritime activities in their waters. Photo: courtesy of European Commission.