Marine Environmental targets
     linked to Regional Management schemes
                based on Indicators
                     Developed for the Mediterranean
The MSFD (Marine Strategy Framework Directive) and the EAM (Ecosystem Approach to Management) aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of the EU and Regional Seas Conventions’ marine waters, respectively, in the near future and to protect the resources base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend.

MERMAID is set to support EU and UNEP/MAP to achieve these targets

It will:
• improve our knowledge on pressures arising from fishing activities, chemical pollution, marine litter and permanent alterations of the hydrographical conditions;
• provide additional scientific understanding for defining GES in a coherent and holistic manner;
• establish the respective targets;
• develop scenarios to link targets with management measures.
Initial Assessment
(Art. 8)
Determination of Good
Environmental Status
(Art. 9)
Establishment of
environmental targets
and associated
indicators (Art. 10)
Establishment and
Implementation of Coordinated
Monitoring Programmes
(Art. 11)
Development of
Programmes of
(Art. 13)
Entry into Operation
of the Programmes of
(Art. 13)
of the MSFD elements
Scientific background
The increasing pressure on the marine environment by human activities has led the EU to adopt the Integrated Maritime Policy and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) with the aim to protect the sustainability of the European Seas. While the Integrated Maritime Policy focuses on the economic and social use of the European Seas, the MSFD provides a comprehensive framework for the protection of the marine environment. Its main objective is to achieve environmentally healthy marine waters by 2020. Member states will first need to assess the current state of the marine environment and the existing pressures on the ecosystem in their respective marine waters alongside with socio-economic analysis of human activities in these waters. By 15 July 2012, they will also have to determine what can be considered as good environmental status (GES) and set targets to guide progress towards achieving GES. This will be followed by establishing monitoring programmes (by July 2014) and programmes of measures (by 2015) in order to attain GES by 2020.

The regional seas approach advocated in the MSFD is especially appropriate with respect to the Mediterranean Sea, which possesses certain unique qualities. Its semi-enclosed nature, compared to large oceans, makes it more sensitive to natural variations in the atmosphere-ocean and/or land-ocean interactions and exchanges. The interaction of these climate-mediated natural pressures, coupled with the exponential increase in human activities in the coastal regions has made this basin even more sensitive.

There is increasing evidence that Mediterranean Sea is undergoing changes of transient (Roether et al., 1996) and/or long lasting nature (Rixen et al., 2005; Lejeusne et al., 2009). Drivers of changes are related to both natural and man-induced pressures, closely interlinked with each other. At basin scale, climatic variability, affected by the anthropogenic atmospheric emissions of “greenhouse” gases (Forster et al., 2007; Trenberth et al., 2007) impacts the physical dynamics and hydrological (water mass) structure. In the regional/coastal domain, natural and man-induced climate variability influences the ecosystem structure and variability (Conversi et al., 2010) and has pronounced socioeconomic consequences mainly on the fishing industry and tourism. In addition, and to complicate matters further, direct anthropogenic pressures are acting and impacting the coastal environment. In the coastal Mediterranean, no less than 149 different threats have been identified by the Mediterranean coastal states (EEA, 2005; UNEP/MAP – Plan Bleu, 2009).

Amongst the main threats to Mediterranean marine ecosystems, Cuttelod et al. (2008) referred to the overexploitation of fisheries resources and by-catches, chemical pollution and litter. The over-exploitation of resources currently appears to be one of the major threats to fish, migratory ones in particular, but also to certain mollusc, sea urchin and shellfish species. Overfishing was a cause of the decline in the mean trophic level and the structural changes in fish assemblages (Garibaldi and Caddy, 1998; Pauly et al., 1998; Bertrand et al., 2002). Many cases of biodiversity loss of non-target species and habitats caused by mobile fishing gears, mainly trawling, have also been documented (Ardizzone et al., 2000; D’Onghia et al., 2003).

Most of the Mediterranean coastal areas host chemical and mining industries that produce significant amounts of industrial wastes (e.g. heavy metals, hazardous substances and persistent organic pollutants (POPs)). In addition, stockpiles of obsolete chemicals (such as POPs and pesticides) are considered to be a significant source of contaminants (EEA, 2006). Research is particularly needed on the relationship between the mechanisms of entry of pollutants (riverine, atmospheric, etc.) into marine waters, the buffer role of coastal sediments and the availability and potential effects of pollutants, on their dynamics and on their effects on organisms and ecosystem functioning at several scales. Long-range transport of contaminants and the oligotrophic and warm Mediterranean make the off-shore areas also important for pollutant entry in the food-web. There is also a gap in the knowledge regarding the levels of emerging pollutants. Bioaccumulation is also an important mechanism for the introduction of contaminants to the trophic chain (JRC 2010-TG9, Usero et al., 2003, Storelli, 2008; Kelly et al. 2007; Bodiguel et al. 2008). Information on how ecosystems are responding to these long-term trends is lacking and research is needed on long time series that relate pollutant exposure and cycling to effects on organisms and ecosystem functioning at all levels and scales.

Marine litter on Mediterranean beaches is composed mainly of plastics (bottles, bags, caps/lids etc.), aluminium (cans, pull tabs) and glass (bottles) (52% - based on item counts). Marine litter from smoking-related activities accounts for 40% (collected items) which is considerably higher than the global average. In terms of marine litter floating in the sea (number of items observed), plastics account for about 83%, while all other major categories (textiles, paper, metal and wood) account for about 17% (UNEP, 2009). Plastic litter also dominates macro-debris on the sea floor. Just like stranded debris, plastic on the seabed aggregates locally in response to local sources and bottom topography (Galgani et al, 2000). To date, most studies dealing with the problem in the Mediterranean have measured standing stocks of macro-debris (Galil et al, 1995; Galgani et al., 1996; Koutsodendritis et al, 2008; Stefatos et al., 1999; Katsanevakis and Katsarou, 2004). Until now very little attention has been paid to the impacts of marine debris in marine life and the environment. Katsanevakis et al (2007) have found deviation in soft-bottom epi-benthic community structure and composition at sites affected by the presence of litter. An emerging area of concern is the accumulation of microplastic fragments in sediments and their effects to biota. Works dealing with this issue in the Mediterranean regimes are limited. Microplastics found on beaches of Greece have been studied for their potential to concentrate POP’s on their surface and consequently act as pollutant carriers (Karapanagioti and Klontza, 2007; 2008; Karapanagioti et al, 2011). Information on marine litter quantities and distribution in the Mediterranean is still fragmented and its impacts on the marine ecosystem have not been properly addressed. Therefore, more efforts are needed in order to resolve many scientific questions and to provide the stakeholders on the regional and national levels, with the appropriate information and knowledge.

These threats in addition of being major to the quality of the Mediterranean marine ecosystems, they are also common in the sites the new project is going to study (Gulf of Lions, Saronikos gulf and Cilician basin). Furthermore, they can be directly related to human activities, appraised by socioeconomic analysis and linked to management measures.

In this context, it appears essential to improve our knowledge on pressures arising by fishing activities, alteration of the hydrographical conditions, chemical contaminants and marine litter identified as major threats for the Mediterranean ecosystem. Hence, the work plan will focus on five (5) MSFD descriptors: D3- Populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock; D7-Permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect marine ecosystems; D8- Concentrations of contaminants are at levels not giving rise to pollution effects; D9- Contaminants in fish and other seafood for human consumption do not exceed levels established by Community legislation or other relevant standards; and D10- Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment. The aforementioned five descriptors tackle issues with strong societal impact and influence the welfare of coastal populations, according to expert judgment and existing literature, while there also existing gaps of knowledge that need to be covered in order to improve the science involved in assessments of environmental quality.
Policy Background
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Ecosystem Approach
Ecosystem Approach to Management

Supporting documents
1. Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008)
2. On criteria and methodological standards on GES of marine waters (2010)
3. JRC MSFD TG3 Commercially exploited fish and shellfish (2010)
4. JRC MSFD TG8 Contaminants and pollution effects (2010)
5. JRC MSFD TG9 Contaminants in fish and other seafood (2010)
6. JRC MSFD GES TSG Marine Litter (2011)
Determination of Good Environmental Status
• Characterize the natural and human pressures in the three study areas and link pressure typology with pressure indicators.
• Score the main threats/pressures for each ecosystem.
• Assess the environmental quality and identify the existing information gaps.
• Make georeferenced maps for visualization of pressures and environmental quality results.
• Evaluate the environmental quality status of the study areas in 2015 based on new information and the defined GES.
Establishment of environmental targets and associated indicators
• Consider already existing operational objectives for achieving GES, through close collaboration with key stakeholders, adapt or develop new ones aiming to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Traceable (SMART) for each Descriptor and specification of respective targets.
• Evaluate the extent of deviation between current environmental state and GES for each Descriptor.
• Set comprehensive targets towards achieving GES.
Establishment and Implementation of Coordinated Monitoring Programmes
• Review the ongoing national or regional monitoring programmes and the multidisciplinary observing systems.
• Design and adjust monitoring strategies to evaluate progress towards achievement of the GES.
• Run short-term pilot surveys to study the efficiency of existing indicators and investigate the development of new ones..
Development of Programmes of Measures
• Selectively review and evaluate existing sectoral and cross-sectoral management measures.
• Establish a methodology for linking perspective targets with management measures.
• Test, revise and finalize this methodology in the three study areas.

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