More coordinated legislation needed to ensure the Good Environmental Status of European seas

A range of legislation, including the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), is designed to ensure the ‘Good Environmental Status’ (GES) of EU seas by 2020. Researchers have assessed the MSFD in relation to existing maritime policies, concluding that coordination between directives is important to achieve GES.

Europe has over 200 policy initiatives for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Of these, the MSFD was approved in 2008 to protect, preserve and restore the quality of the marine environment across Europe. It was also developed to integrate other measures to protect the marine environment, as some policies, such as the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), target more specific pressures. The MSFD requires Member States to develop a marine strategy, which includes a Programme of Measures (PoM), to achieve GES. This study, which was part of the DEVOTES project, reviewed key maritime policies for achieving GES. The researchers examined how Member States use and integrate existing legislation and policies to implement their PoM, the potential opportunities and difficulties associated with this, and external barriers to achieving GES. The study used case studies of three Member States: Greece, Spain and the UK. The researchers say there are conflicting objectives within and between Member States in implementing the MSFD. For example, GES and its descriptor indicators are left to the individual interpretation of the Member States, which may lead to differences in implementation. The MSFD is reliant on existing legislation. For example, the PoM for each Member State should be based on existing requirements such as monitoring requirements under the Habitats and Birds Directives. Other directives with overlaps in requirements or aims include the WFD, CFP, the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD), Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) and the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (MSP), say the authors. Furthermore, different legal instruments can use different boundaries for different marine regions, which was identified as a major barrier to achieving GES. This can, for example, cause difficulties in reporting fishery stocks for different geographical areas under the CFP, or assessing the chemical status of waters in the case of the WFD. Blue growth initiatives, which aim to develop social and economic growth within European seas, were identified as another challenge to achieving GES. The researchers say blue growth may conflict with MSFD objectives by emphasising economic growth over environmental protection. Shipping, oil and gas exploration, renewable energy, off-shore aquaculture, the cruise industry, carbon capture and storage and seabed mining are all new or rapidly developing sectors, which may negatively affect marine ecosystems. It is important that these developments consider ecological impacts through environmental impact assessments (EIA). EIA is an integral part of granting development consent to individual projects that are likely to have significant impact on the environment. It is important to consider the cumulative effect of these developments. The Strategic Impact Assessment and Marine Spatial Planning Directives provide for a comprehensive, systematic and transparent assessment of environmental, social and economic impacts as well as appropriate planning to address any possible negative impacts from economic development.

The case studies also demonstrate that Member States are producing their PoM in different ways, and are at different stages. For example, the UK finalised its PoM in December 2015, primarily using existing policy to meet the needs of the MSFD, which the researchers suggest may be insufficient to achieve GES. The UK PoM relies on current programmes and targets to monitor marine habitats — such as those under the WFD — and it is uncertain how effectively these measures can be scaled up to meet the requirements of the MSFD at a sub-regional level. By contrast, the public consultation process for the Spanish PoM was completed in spring 2016 and identified existing measures from current EU and national legislation, but also developed 95 new measures. However, the PoM has not yet been formally notified in Spain. Greece has not made its PoM public yet, possibly demonstrating the difficulties faced by certain countries in documenting the required measures within deadlines. Greece is currently facing major fiscal and societal challenges; as such, the researchers say that it is not surprising that they are failing to meet the MSFD timeline. They say it is expected that the Greek PoM will also largely use existing environmental measures from current EU policies. Finally, the researchers provide recommendations to overcome gaps and barriers in legislation and meet GES. In particular, they recommend increased coordination between related policy instruments. This could include common definitions, targets and data collection. They also say an overreliance on measures within existing legislation may be to the detriment of environmental protection. The researchers say Member States should consider new measures, where necessary, to achieve GES under the MSFD, although they acknowledge that this represents a challenge.

Source: Boyes, S.J., Elliott, M., Murillas-Maza, A., Papadopoulou, N. & Uyarra, M.C. (2016). Is existing legislation fit-forpurpose to achieve Good Environmental Status in European seas? Marine Pollution Bulletin, 137(1): 105–119. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016. 06.079. This study is free to view at: http://www.sciencedirect.c om/science/article/pii/S002 5326X16304830

Contact: s.j.boyes@hull.ac.uk

Researchers find Growing Piles of Trash and Plastic on the Arctic Seabed

By Dr. Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Change; and Researcher, Arctic Institute of North America (Canada/US) and Arctic Research Centre (AU, Denmark)

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A study tracking an area west of Svalbard found more litter than ever in the Arctic—in some cases at densities rivaling developed areas far to the south—and that the increased trash density was correlated to more ship traffic.

The Arctic’s growing tourism and shipping industry might not just bring more cash: it could bring more trash.

That’s according to a team of German scientists who report in the online scientific journal, Deep Sea Research Part 1: Oceanographic Research Papers, that more garbage sits on the Arctic seabed than ever before, and it’s linked to areas that have seen a boom in vessel traffic as Arctic ice recedes.

The report’s conclusions are drawn from photographs they collected between 2002 and 2014 that show trash resting on the ocean floor west of the High Arctic island of Svalbard.

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Scientists Mine K. Tekman, Thomas Krumpen and Melanie Bergman say the high levels of trash density are “surprising,” considering “the remote location [of the field stations].”

So how much more waste? One of two research locations between Greenland and Svalbard reached a “mean annual litter density,” or ALD, of 6,566 items per square kilometre in 2014, or slightly less than the 6,620 per sq. km. average for an area of the seabed near Lisbon—capital of Portugal—with a population well over half a million.

Those figures are a projected average, using an algorithm agreed upon by the academic community—actually there are only 89 pieces of trash catalogued in 7,058 photos taken across about 28,161 square metres. But when compared with ship activity in the region, the data showed “significant positive correlations” between trash density and ship counts, according to the report.

“The increase in tourism and fishing vessel sightings west off Svalbard showed the strongest increase among maritime traffic information,” the report notes, adding that rough counts by coast guard vessels of ships in the area more than doubled between 2002 and 2014, from 47 sightings to 102.

Shifting norms for Arctic sea ice, which continues to set new record lows during the winter, allow more ships to travel further north in open water and areas of thin ice.

Thin ice can then deposit trash across the High Arctic when it melts in the summer, the report speculated.

“The receding sea ice coverage associated with global change has opened hitherto largely inaccessible environments to humans and the impacts of tourism, industrial activities including shipping and fisheries, all of which are potential sources of marine litter,” the report says.

Some of the items documented in the study include rope, fabric, glass, cardboard, pottery, timber and plastic.

And the trash isn’t just for decoration: 50 of the 89 catalogued trash items were interacting with organisms on the seafloor, such as sponges, stalked sea lilies, anemone and shrimp.

If that’s the case, then more seafloor trash is a trend Nunavut may have to look forward to in the coming years as the Arctic’s yearly sea ice extents continue to shrink and more ships routinely navigate through the Northwest Passage.

As Nunavut continues to develop regulations for its growing tourism industry, more ships—such as the record setting 1,000-passenger Crystal Serenity cruise ship—have navigated through the passage each year.

And most of those ships will be passing through Lancaster Sound, between Baffin Island and Devon Island, at some point in their journeys, potentially impacting a major marine polynya that was at the centre of a series of relinquished oil permits by Shell Canada last summer.

“Our findings indicate that the Arctic faces a pollution problem and that it is spreading in the North,” the report said.

“Considering the importance of the Arctic region for global climate and ecosystem health, identifying the changes in [human caused] stress and its direct or indirect sources provide future information for future projections to regulate human activities.”

 

Reference

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674researchers_find_growing_piles_of_trash_on_the_arctic_seabed/

 

More information

Paper: Marine litter on deep Arctic seafloor continues to increase and spreads to the North at the HAUSGARTEN observatory. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096706371630200X

 

ISLAND INVASIVES CONFERENCE 2017

logo-sized-trans-iiMonday 10 July – Friday 14 July, 2017
Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

This conference, hosted by the University of Dundee and the South Georgia Heritage Trust, will be a long-overdue gathering of the island invasives clan. It will build on the great success of the Auckland meetings, allow greater participation of people from Europe and North America, and bring together experts and those thirsty for knowledge in diverse fields covering the invaders and invaded. Since the last meeting in 2010, much has been learned about the damage caused by, and how to control or eradicate, an increasingly diverse range of invasive species. This will be an opportunity to share that knowledge, and to be inspired by what has been achieved by passionate and dedicated conservationists around the world.

Littoral 2016: report

ENGLISH BELOW

Organisé par EUCC-France, en collaboration avec le Centre de la Mer de Biarritz et l’Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, Littoral 2016 “Littoraux en devenir. Anticipation et adaptation aux changements climatiques” a réuni 250 personnes venues de France et de 15 autres pays européens.

Vous trouverez ci-joint un compte-rendu-de-littoral-2016 (version française et version anglaise) du colloque, agrémenté de photos issues de notre équipe organisatrice et de participants qui nous ont autorisés à les utiliser.

Nous vous remercions encore une fois pour votre participation et espérons vous revoir lors de nos prochains événements.

Les actes du colloque sont en préparation et les présentations sous forme de powerpoint seront disponibles sur le site www.euccfrance.fr, après autorisation de leurs auteurs.

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Littoral 2016 “The changing littoral. Anticipation and adaptation to climate change” has been organized by EUCC-France in close co-operation with the “Centre de la mer” of Biarritz and the University of “Pau et des Pays de l’Adour”. Littoral 2016 in Biarritz brought together 250 persons. Among them one hundred were coming from 15 different countries.

You will find attached a report-of-littoral-2016 of the symposium including some pictures taken by our organizing commitee and kind participants.

 

Thank you again for your participation. We hope to see you soon during our next events.

The proceedings are in progress and the power point presentations will be available online (www.euccfrance.fr) with authors’ authorization.

‘Great Pacific garbage patch’ far bigger than imagined, aerial survey shows

Source: The Guardian

 

The vast patch of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean is far worse than previously thought, with an aerial survey finding a much larger mass of fishing nets, plastic containers and other discarded items than imagined.

A reconnaissance flight taken in a modified C-130 Hercules aircraft found a vast clump of mainly plastic waste at the northern edge of what is known as the “great Pacific garbage patch”, located between Hawaii and California.

The density of rubbish was several times higher than the Ocean Cleanup, a foundation part-funded by the Dutch government to rid the oceans of plastics, expected to find even at the heart of the patch, where most of the waste is concentrated.

“Normally when you do an aerial survey of dolphins or whales, you make a sighting and record it,” said Boyan Slat, the founder of the Ocean Cleanup.

“That was the plan for this survey. But then we opened the door and we saw the debris everywhere. Every half second you see something. So we had to take snapshots – it was impossible to record everything. It was bizarre to see that much garbage in what should be pristine ocean.”

Read more

The European Marine Board and United Front in Ocean Observation

As the world’s oceans become increasingly exposed to rapidly growing pressures, long-term data sets are fundamental for monitoring these processes and understanding the complex and vast oceanic environment. In July 2016, the European Marine Board (EMB), a partnership of major national marine and oceanographic institutes in Europe, identified critical gaps within ocean observation and seafloor mapping capabilities. Their mission, along with many organizations and networks, is to unite existing ocean observing capacity and launch Europe into a time of ocean erudition.
 
For 20 years the EMB has provided a unique platform for the successful development of marine research policy and strategy. The formation of partnerships and the birth of valuable networks has been a product of EMB activity, influencing marine research throughout Europe, and the world. Today, the EMB represents 35 member organizations and provides a united front enabling Europe to form a common vision and find solutions to address key global issues. 
 
Deputy Director of Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research (AWI), Chair of Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and EMB member Prof. Karen Wiltshire explains, “Observations are imperative for the earth systems future. The world is blue, so, therefore, the amount of knowledge that we require in order to survive and adapt to climate change is quite considerable. We cannot do this without ocean observations. Unless we know how our oceans are structured, which includes seafloor mapping, we can’t come up with good strategies for moorings or governance. We still don’t know what type of habitats we have in our oceans. It is because we lack this knowledge that we cannot yet know all the areas that should be observed.”
 
EU directives and policies such as the Integrated Maritime Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Marine Spatial Planning Directive and the Common Fisheries Policy all rely fundamentally on marine observations, data and data products for their successful implementation. As most of the ocean lies beyond the jurisdiction of individual nations, coordinated international collaborations, such as the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water-column Observatory (EMSO) and Euro-Argo, are essential for developing and operating fit-for-purpose ocean observing systems and their integration into modeling and forecasting activities. The EU has also been active in implementing a Europe-wide effort to promote the accessibility and use by multiple sectors of marine data. The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is Commission action designed to implement the far-reaching strategic goals of the EU Marine Knowledge 2020 Strategy, which sets targets for vastly improved knowledge of Europe’s marine territories.
 
Since its establishment, the EMB has advocated for a more coordinated and effective European effort to monitor and understand the state and variability of Europe’s regional seas and the global ocean. The European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS) and the EMB are working together to promote and facilitate an overarching framework for advancing ocean observation across Europe, referred to as the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS). This comprehensive framework will connect more effectively the currently fragmented and complex ocean observing capacity and act as a single, well-organized voice for Europe.
 
Niall McDonough, Executive Secretary, EMB comments, “EOOS will not take ownership or control of ocean observing in Europe. Rather, EOOS will provide a light and flexible coordinating framework, making it more efficient and effective at different geographical scales and for different users. In this way, EOOS can help add value to existing observing efforts, empowering those who are already working to advance ocean observing in Europe, and catalyzing new initiatives in a strategic way, targeting identified gaps and communicating progress to a wide range of stakeholders.”
 
Marine ecosystems are already under considerable pressure from global climate change and ocean acidification as well as localized stressors from human pollution and commercial activities. Although international efforts are underway to monitor the ocean and these impacts, only 5% of the seafloor has been surveyed to modern standards. There are also significant issues in terms of spatial coverage, the parameters being measured, the frequency of collection and the availability and ease of access to quality controlled data in real-time, or near real-time. 
 
According to the EMB, particular emphasis must also be placed on biological observing. While a relatively advanced operational oceanography capability collects physical data at a global scale from both in situ and satellite systems, the collection of chemical, biogeochemical and biological data remains ad hoc and much less developed. There are few sustained biological observatories, a dwindling number of taxonomic experts and limited funding opportunities to increase observing efforts for biological or ecological characteristics. The EMB has recognized this as an urgent aspect to address and will begin work in late 2016 to produce a policy paper with recommendations on future biological observing needs.
 
“It will never be possible to have a full picture in time and space, so it is critical to ensure that all ocean observation efforts are maximized in terms of the use and relevance of data across multiple users including science, industry and government authorities. 
 
This is why we need close cooperation and coordination,” says McDonough. “From a scientific perspective, a particular emphasis must also be placed on long-term observing initiatives which deliver decadal time series, whether that be physical, chemical or biological. Understanding patterns of change and the impacts on marine systems is dependent on sustained operational observations.” 
 
Geographically, there are still many areas which are in need of long term observation that has not long been realized. These gaps exist for several reasons including logistics, resources and funding, but also due to the evolving focus and shifts in modern concerns over time.
 
Wiltshire adds, “The Arctic is now an area of concern. Gaps in Arctic ocean observations have a lot to do with the evolution of needs of individual countries, such as transport and general governance questions. We also have a critical gap in the upper North Sea as it’s very hard for us to get information as to how the water moves there. We have to model it and we also have to set up a few more long term moorings. Maybe 20 years ago, we might not have thought about the Arctic as we do now nor realized how important the inflow and outflow of the North Sea is. The more information we have, for example with climate change, the more we realize we might be missing bits. It’s up to us to readjust some of our observation systems to current concerns.”
 
Another key area within ocean observation, one EMB sees potential for immense opportunity, lies in the development of new observing sensors and platforms. Technology is advancing rapidly and with it the capacity for autonomous systems to be deployed for longer periods with lower energy demands. The support of innovation and advancement in future observing technologies will be key to achieving goals in ocean observation, both within Europe and globally.

Advancement through Unity 
The EU Blue Economy provides over five million jobs and approximately 4% of Europe’s Gross Domestic Product. New technologies, including underwater engineering and DNA sequencing, offer possibilities to increase the contribution between marine industry and science sectors. To capture this potential, the European Commission has launched a Blue Growth initiative which explores new ways to contribute to the EU’s economy through technological, industrial and financial innovation while respecting the scarcity and vulnerability of marine resources. 
 
Industry collects considerable amounts of ocean data throughout the process of offshore development, oil and gas, fisheries and aquaculture and ocean energy. Through openly sharing expertise and the creation of new opportunities for knowledge and data transfer, the EMB believe the benefits will be felt by both industry and science, forming a strong foundation to achieving a data-rich future for all.
 
Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Galway, Ireland and EMB member, describes the opportunities created by linking industry and scientific resources, “Ireland has existing expertise across a number of the key enabling technologies required to develop products and services that will support growth in emerging areas of the global blue economy while creating efficiencies and supporting sustainability across more established markets. Expertise in areas such as sensors, platforms, communications, robotics, informatics, computer vision and advanced materials can be harnessed in new ways to drive innovation in global marine markets with high growth potential. This will also support the sustainable development of our significant marine resource that is uniquely situated on the European Atlantic seaboard and a potential hotspot for developments in areas such as renewable energy, fisheries, shipping, marine security and surveillance and marine biotechnology.”
 
Against the Tide
The dream of an integrated ocean observation network, both internationally and across sectors will first need to overcome some key challenges. International cooperation is critical as is targeting appropriate funding in the right areas such as new biological sensors, training and reinvigorating Europe’s declining taxonomic expertise. High-risk projects must also be supported in order to develop innovation. 
 
There needs to be more opportunities which allow for marine data sharing collected by private enterprise to be utilized by science and public agencies. Data collected through publicly-funded initiatives, including research, must also be accessible and useful for industry in support of Blue Growth. Both these aspects, however, will first need to overcome the associated legal issues. The Commission is moving toward this goal for data generated through EC-funded research projects. From 2017, Horizon 2020 is adopting an open data policy for all projects funded through the program.
 
Finally, making the case to decision makers of the importance to investing in ocean observing systems and infrastructure requires better economic cost-benefit arguments.
 
Europe also lacks a ‘seabed mapping research center of excellence’. Knowledge resources are spread across numerous agencies and research centers, and related expertise has not been mapped out to date. This is largely because seabed mapping programs have been nationally operated rather than international research focused, as is the case with ocean observation. Resource allocation to assess the current knowledge and expertise base, and encourage collaboration between operational entities is also required. 
 
“Key seabed mapping data programs already in place don’t necessarily involve the key operational agencies or researchers. Partnerships are often developed through historical programs and initiatives, rather than bringing together the most appropriate expertise. Resource allocation mechanisms to bring all strategic stakeholders together is required, such as a network of marine data centers or active seabed mapping organizations,” explains Heffernan. “Ireland has built up considerable expertise in seabed mapping through INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping program carried out by the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute. It is one of the largest civilian mapping exercises undertaken worldwide.” 
 
EMB has recently met through a high-level delegation with the EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, to discuss needs and strategic actions to improve Europe’s ocean observing system. While the meeting on July 8, 2016 produced a number of follow-up actions, the EMB will continue to work with the Commissioner and DG MARE to develop and shape the next actions to promote and expand Europe’s ocean observing capacity.
 
Going forward, the EMB will continue to work with its partner network, EuroGOOS, to develop EOOS. A Roadmap for EOOS is currently in development and will be discussed at a special event in the European Parliament on September 8. This will be followed by an open consultation with all stakeholders on EOOS in autumn 2016. 
 
“The global Ocean is facing multiple anthropogenic and natural stressors and consequently marine ecosystems are increasingly vulnerable to exceeding tipping points which may lead to irreversible change. Society will rely on scientific information to tackle these threats and potentially even turn challenges into opportunities A particularly important goal is to achieve a balance between protecting the marine environment and supporting Blue Growth,” states McDonough.
 
Further information:

 
Acknowledgements
Niall McDonough, Executive Secretary, European Marine Board
Prof Karen Wiltshire, Deputy Director of Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research (AWI) and Chair of Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO)
Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Ireland
 
 
(As published in the September 2016 edition of Marine Technology Reporter)

COASTAL & MARINE 16-2: Recalling ICZM – Insights from the Baltic

The BONUS BaltCoast project published the first out of three special issues of the Coastal & Marine Magazine. “Recalling ICZM – Insights from the Baltic” gives an introduction to the BONUS BaltCoast project, as well as to a Systems Approach Framework for the sustainable management of the Baltic Sea, which is implemented by the project. The issue sets a special focus on the re-analysis of ICZM case studies in the Baltic Sea Region.

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