The European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) has a pivotal role in managing EU marine waters. This paper analyses natural causes and force majeure provisions of the MFSD and other marine legislation, and addresses their interaction with climate change and its consequences, especially the effect on the obligation of ensuring seas are in Good Environmental Status.

The analysis contends that countering such a legal defence would centre on the fact that climate change is a well-accepted phenomenon, is foreseen with an accepted level of confidence and probability and is due to human actions. However, as yet, this has not been legally tested.

Saul R, Barnes R, Elliott M. Is climate change an unforeseen, irresistible and external factor–A force majeure in marine environmental law?. Marine pollution bulletin. 2016 Dec 15;113(1-2):25-35.