EU Science Hub

Promoting the Good Environmental Status of Marine Waters

Jun 09 2017

On 17 May 2017, the European Commission adopted two legislative instruments designed to help EU Member States to better define the good environmental status of their marine waters and to provide clearer criteria and methodologies as to what should be considered when assessing and monitoring seas & oceans.

Commission Decision (EU) 2017 848, which repeals Decision 2010/477/EU, describes the criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status of marine waters, and the specifications and standardised methods for monitoring and assessment.  Commission Directive (EU) 2017/845 amends Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding the indicative lists of elements to be taken into account for the preparation of marine strategies.

The JRC, in close collaboration with the Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV), supported the review of the Commission Decision by analysing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive implementation process for Descriptors related to Biodiversity and Pollution. The work was carried out by working with Member States experts, involving thus a large community through workshops and joint drafting of supporting reports. These include reviews of:

  • Descriptor 1: Biological diversity is maintained. The quality and occurrence of habitats and the distribution and abundance of species are in line with the prevailing physiographic, geographic and climate conditions (review document and workshop’s report).
  • Descriptor 2: Non-indigenous species introduced by human activities are at levels that do not adversely alter the ecosystem (review document and workshop’s report).
  • Descriptor 5: Human-induced eutrophication is minimised, especially adverse effects
  • thereof, such as losses in biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, harmful algal
  • blooms and oxygen deficiency in bottom waters (review document and workshop’s report).
  • Descriptor 7: Permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect marine ecosystems (review document)
  • Descriptor 8: Concentrations of contaminants are at levels not giving rise to pollution effects (review document)
  • Descriptor 9: Contaminants in fish and other seafood for human consumption do not exceed levels established by Community legislation or other relevant standards (review document)
  • Descriptor 10: Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment (review document)