The European Commission introduces the evaluation criteria for good ecological status of European seas

The European Commission adopted a decision establishing the criteria required to obtain a good ecological status for European seas. These criteria will allow Member States to coordinate their marine strategies for each regional sea, ensuring consistency and allow comparisons from one region to another, the progress made.

The definition of these criteria is a condition set by the Framework Directive Marine Strategy, which seeks to ensure that all EU marine waters reach a good ecological status by 2020.

Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, said he hoped that our seas are in a healthy and productive. He presented Today’s decision as a first step towards setting specific targets that will allow these marine waters to reach good ecological status. He finally added that adoption of this decision on the criteria for good ecological status during the International Year of Biodiversity (2010) is a further step in developing the EU strategy on biodiversity after 2010.

The decision of the Commission

The Commission decision on the criteria for Good Environmental Status of marine waters focuses on different aspects of marine ecosystems including biological diversity, fish population, eutrophication, contaminants, litter and noise.

The criteria and associated indicators defined in the decision have been based on scientific and technical advice provided by independent experts and have to be used by Member States to determine the environmental status of the marine ecosystem. They build on existing obligations and developments in EU legislation, covering elements of the marine environment not yet addressed in existing policies.

However, while some criteria are fully developed and operational others require further refinement. The decision highlights the need to develop additional scientific understanding for assessing good environmental status to support an ecosystem-based approach to the management of Europe’s marine waters. A revision of the criteria will therefore be necessary to take account of new scientific knowledge.

2020 target for good environmental status

Good Environmental Status means that the overall state of the environment in marine waters provides ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are healthy and productive. Use of the marine environment must be kept at a sustainable level that safeguards potential uses and activities by current and future generations. This means the structure, functions and processes of marine ecosystems have to be fully considered, marine species and habitats must be protected and human-induced decline of biodiversity prevented.

To achieve the EU’s objective of good environmental status for all marine waters by 2020, Member States have to develop marine strategies which serve as action plans for applying an ecosystem-based approach to the management of human activities. Good Environmental Status must be determined at the level of marine regions or sub regions, on the basis of 11 qualitative descriptors of the marine environment specified in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Regional cooperation is required at each stage of the implementation of the Directive.

Les commentaires sont fermés.