Marine Strategy Framework Directive: Innovative and participatory decision-making method for the identification of common measures in the Mediterranean

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the European Commission’s flagship initiative for the protection of the European Seas, and the first holistic approach to ensuring that European Seas reach and are maintained at what is called a ‘Good Environmental Status’ by the year 2020. Regional cooperation, especially between neighbouring countries, and involvement of all interested parties, are horizontal principles of the MSFD, and particularly apply to the definition of programmes of measures, the principal instrument through which each Member State will implement its marine strategy. This paper presents the results from a dedicated, participatory, structured decision-making process that was implemented within the framework of the ActionMed project, which aimed to bring experts and policy/decision-makers from Mediterranean neighbouring countries together, to discuss and agree upon common measures for implementation in their sub-regions. It shows that a participatory approach, supported by customised, case specific intelligent tools, that follows expertly facilitated, structured workshops can be a successful way to enhance sub-regional collaboration. The paper also presents the top ranking measures, selected by experts and decision-makers for common implementation in two Mediterranean sub-regions.

Xenia I. Loizidou, Michael I. Loizides, Demetra L. Orthodoxou, Marine Policy, Volume 84, October 2017, Pages 82–89

The article


Strandings of NE Atlantic gorgonians

Northeast coral gardens provide vital breeding and feeding habitats for fishes of conservation and commercial importance. Such habitats are increasingly at risk of destruction as a result of over fishing, ocean warming, acidification and marine litter.

A key cause for concern regarding the vulnerability of coral gardens to damage from any source is their slow growth rate, and thereby their ability to recover from damage. Hence protected areas are being put in place, which exclude the use of towed demersal fishing gear.

Citizen scientists observed that gorgonian coral (Pink Sea Fans) skeletons were stranding on beaches entangled in marine debris (sea fangles) across southwest England. Further, SCUBA divers reported that gorgonian corals were being caught up and damaged in lost fishing gear and other marine litter.

To determine the cause of the damage to coral gardens, sea fangles were collected and analysed.

The sea fangles were made up of a diverse range of litter from fishing and domestic sources, however, the majority comprised of fishing gear (P < 0.05).

Marine Protected Areas can protect coral gardens from direct fishing pressure, but risks still remain from ghost fishing pressure, demonstrating the need for sources of litter into the environment to be reduced and existing litter removed.

The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) outlines targets for marine litter by 2020. This study highlights the importance of adhering to the MSFD and/or creating more ambitious regulation if the UK re-write existing legislation following BREXIT.

E.V. Sheehan, A. Rees, D. Bridger, T. Williams, J.M. Hall-Spencer, Biological Conservation, Volume 209, May 2017, Pages 482–487

The article

OSPAR standard method and software for statistical analysis of beach litter data

The aim of this study is to develop standard statistical methods and software for the analysis of beach litter data. The optimal ensemble of statistical methods comprises the Mann-Kendall trend test, the Theil-Sen slope estimation, the Wilcoxon step trend test and basic descriptive statistics. The application of Litter Analyst, a tailor-made software for analysing the results of beach litter surveys, to OSPAR beach litter data from seven beaches bordering on the south-eastern North Sea, revealed 23 significant trends in the abundances of beach litter types for the period 2009–2014. Litter Analyst revealed a large variation in the abundance of litter types between beaches. To reduce the effects of spatial variation, trend analysis of beach litter data can most effectively be performed at the beach or national level. Spatial aggregation of beach litter data within a region is possible, but resulted in a considerable reduction in the number of significant trends.

Marcus Schulz, Willem van Loon, David M. Fleet, Paul Baggelaar, Eit van der Meulen, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol. 122 (1-2, 15 September 2017

The article

Seasonal dynamics of marine litter along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast

In this study marine litter (ML) surveys were conducted in 8 beaches along the Bulgarian Black Sea coastline within 4 seasons for 2015–2016. The monitoring applied OSPAR guideline, classifying ML in eight categories and 167 types. The results exhibited predominance of artificial polymer materials – 84.3%. ML densities ranged from 0.0587 ± 0.005 to 0.1343 ± 0.008 n/m2, highest on the urban beaches. The seasonal dynamics of most top 10 ML showed highest quantities in summer than the other seasons, as the differences are of high statistical significance (0.001 ≤ P ≤ 0.05). Top 1 ML item for most of the beaches was cigarette butts and filters reaching 1008 ± 10.58 nos. in summer and from 19 ± 3.41 to 89 ± 7.81 nos. during the rest of the seasons (P < 0.001). For the pronounced seasonality contributed the recreational activities, increased tourist flow and the wild camping. The investigation will enrich data scarcity for Descriptor 10 “Marine litter”.

Anna Simeonova, Rozalina Chuturkova, Velika Yaneva, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 119, Issue 1, 15 June 2017, Pages 110–118

The article

NORMAN interlaboratory study (ILS) on passive sampling of emerging pollutants

A chemical monitoring on site (CM Onsite) organised by NORMAN Association and JRC in support of the Water Framework Directive

Passive samplers can play a valuable role in monitoring water quality within a legislative framework such as the European Union’s Water Framework Directive (WFD). The time-integrated data from these devices can be used to complement chemical monitoring of priority and emerging contaminants which are difficult to analyse by spot or bottle sampling methods, and to improve risk assessment of chemical pollution. In order to increase the acceptance of passive sampling technology amongst end users and to gain further information about the robustness of the calibration and analytical steps, several inter-laboratory field studies have recently been performed in Europe. Such trials are essential to further validate this sampling method and to increase the confidence of the technological approach for end users. An inter-laboratory study on the use of passive samplers for the monitoring of emerging pollutants was organised in 2011 by the NORMAN association (Network of reference laboratories for monitoring emerging environmental pollutants; together with the European DG Joint Research Centre to support the Common Implementation Strategy of the WFD. Thirty academic, commercial and regulatory laboratories participated in the passive sampler comparison exercise and each was allowed to select their own sampler design. All the different devices were exposed at a single sampling site to treated waste water from a large municipal treatment plant. In addition, the organisers deployed in parallel for each target analyte class multiple samplers of a single type which were subsequently distributed to the participants for analysis. This allowed an evaluation of the contribution of the different analytical laboratory procedures to the data variability. The results obtained allow an evaluation of the potential of different passive sampling methods for monitoring selected emerging organic contaminants (pharmaceuticals, polar pesticides, steroid hormones, fluorinated surfactants, triclosan, bisphenol A and brominated flame retardants). In most cases, between laboratory variation of results from passive samplers was roughly a factor 5 larger than within laboratory variability. Similar results obtained for different passive samplers analysed by individual laboratories and also low within laboratory variability of sampler analysis indicate that the passive sampling process is causing less variability than the analysis. This points at difficulties that laboratories experienced with analysis in complex environmental matrices. Where a direct comparison was possible (not in case of brominated flame retardants) analysis of composite water samples provided results that were within the concentration range obtained by passive samplers. However, in the future a significant improvement of the overall precision of passive sampling is needed. The results will be used to inform EU Member States about the potential application of passive sampling methods for monitoring organic chemicals within the framework of the WFD. (2016)

The report

Report from the Commission to the european parliament and the council assessing Member States’ monitoring programmes under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) provides a framework in which Member States must take the necessary measures to achieve or maintain ‘good environmental status’ in all of the EU’s marine waters by 2020. Achieving this objective means that the EU’s seas are clean, healthy and productive and the use of the marine environment is sustainable. The MSFD includes eleven qualitative “descriptors” describing what the environment should look like when good environmental status has been achieved. Commission Decision 2010/477/EU on criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status of marine waters guides Member States on how this objective is to be achieved.

European Commission, Brussels, 16.1.2017

Management frameworks for coastal and marine pollution in the European and South East Asian regions

The continuing threat of pollution on coastal and marine environment and resources has been addressed on regional scale over the past decades. This paper describes and compares the coastal and marine pollution management frameworks in the European and South East Asian regions. It highlights the differences and commonalities of the two regions in terms of the approach each has taken to address the transboundary pollution issues. It also focuses on the actions taken by France and the Philippines as parties to these regional management frameworks. A brief examination of the drivers and pressures on coastal and marine ecosystems as well as its current state showed that in both regions pollutants persist despite previous efforts to manage the release of pollutants from anthropogenic sources. The enactment of the Water Framework Directive and Marine Strategy Framework Directive is the most recent response of the European Union (EU) to deal with persistent pollution issues in European waters. In South East Asia, management frameworks have also been developed through regional projects and programs supported by various international (e.g., UNEP) and regional institutions (e.g., ASEAN, PEMSEA). In both regions, the management frameworks take a holistic and functional management approach, although the EU member states have taken the action a step further by forging legally binding regional policies. Adopting a common and legally binding policy in SEA has been very difficult due to the varying geographical, political, social as well as economic settings of countries in this region. EU Member States like France have undertaken activities and actions in accordance with the requirements of the WFD and MSFD. On the other hand, the Philippines had been an active participant to the various regional projects and programs in SEA, though its compliance to the tasks and obligations of the regional conventions on coastal and marine pollution management had been limited due to other more pressing problems domestically. We conclude that despite the challenges encountered by EU Member States in complying with the EU Directives, there is a need for SEA to also move towards adopting and implementing a similar region-wide and legal framework for effective management of coastal and marine pollution issues.

Ma. Gregoria Joanne P. Tiquio, Nicolas Marmier, Patrice Francour, Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 135, January 2017, Pages 65–78

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