Athens, Greece, July 2, 2014 – The EU-funded Mare Nostrum Project is calling on the governments of EU countries to establish a task force to propose uniform criteria and methods for delineating their coastlines.
Speaking at the Plenary Meeting of the Permanent Committee on Cadastre in the EU on June 24 in Athens, Mare Nostrum initiator Prof. Rachelle Alterman called for greater legal and cadastral coordination among EU nations on coastal issues.
“Seas are shared, and so should be the rules for delineating the coastline. These should create a legally sustainable balance between environmental goals, climate change challenges and property rights,” Alterman stressed. “Without more uniformity the many layers of international and national laws and policies to protect the seas and coasts cannot be consistently implemented across the EU.”
One of the problems identified by the Mare Nostrum Project is the existence of major disparities among the Mediterranean countries in the legal and cadastral rules about defining the line between sea and coast.
For example, in Greece only about 20 percent of the coast has been demarcated, sporadically and at different times, often based on landowners’ complaints about uncertainties. By contrast, in Spain, some 97% of the coastal demarcation has been completed, However, the legal rules in Spain – though environmentally sound – cause an inherently fluid line, which must be altered according to major storms. This has instant implications for private and public land ownership and major uncertainties for municipalities, landowners and enforcement agencies.
The differences in demarcation criteria for the coastline have immense implications for key policies in the Barcelona Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), and other EU and national laws such as the definition of a public property zone along the coast, the prohibition of construction within a setback zone, the control of planning and development and environmental controls.