A new bill amending and supplementing the existing Maritime Space, Inland Waterways and Ports of the Republic of Bulgaria Act has been published for public discussions.

The bill implements Directive 2014/89/EU which requires countries to organize and apply maritime spatial planning as an instrument of the Integrated Maritime Policy.
The bill aims to:

  • Provide the procedure for development of a maritime spatial plan;
  • Supplement and enhance the legal provisions on ports and general plans;
  • Supplement the legislation with rules regarding spatial planning and investment projects on hydro technical equipment;
  • Ensure effective and transparent decision-making and management of maritime activities; and
  • Remove unclear provisions and contradictions in the legal framework.

According to the bill, the maritime spatial plan will provide the physical layout and timeframe for the usage of Bulgaria’s maritime space. The plan will include information about different zones in the maritime space, such as areas for prospection and exploration for underground resources, fishing areas, areas for protection of the cultural heritage, etc. It will be published for public discussions prior to adoption and will be updated every 10 years.

Apart from implementing Directive 2014/89/EU, the bill also aims to provide a more detailed and clear regulation on the general plans for ports of public use. For the first time, the bill provides a legal definition of ‘general plans’ for ports, defining them as a spatial basis for the construction, development and expansion of ports. This new regulation on general plans for ports will mainly affect owners of ports for public use and concessioners and entrepreneurs willing to operate existing ports/construct new ports for public use because the bill requires that such general plans must be developed for every project for operation or development of a port for public use – an obligation that will fall on investors.

The bill also includes some provisions on minimizing air pollution and ships’ compliance with the requirements of environment protection legislation.

Interested persons have until 1 November to submit opinions on the bill. Opinions should be submitted in writing/electronically to the Ports and Port Services Directorate at the Maritime Administration Agency. The bill has not yet been submitted to the Parliament for discussions.