Indicators for Sea-floor Integrity under the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Type Article
Date 2012-01
Language English
Author(s) Rice Jake1, Arvanitidis Christos2, Borja Angel3, Frid Chris4, Hiddink Jan G.5, Krause Jochen6, Lorance PascalORCID7, Ragnarsson Stefan Aki8, Skold Mattias9, Trabucco Benedetta10, Enserink Lisette11, Norkko Alf12
Affiliation(s) 1 : Ecosyst Sci Branch, Dept Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Ottawa, ON K1A 0E6, Canada.
2 : Hellen Ctr Marine Res, Inst Marine Biol Crete, Iraklion 71003, Crete, Greece.
3 : AZTI Tecnalia, Div Marine Res, Herrera Kaia 20110, Pasaia, Spain.
4 : Univ Liverpool, Sch Ocean Sci, Liverpool L69 7ZB, Merseyside, England.
5 : Univ Wales, Sch Ocean Sci, Menai Bridge LL59 5AB, Anglesey, Wales.
6 : German Fed Agcy Nat Conservat, D-18581 Isle Of Vilm, Putbus, Germany.
7 : IFREMER, F-44311 Nantes 03, France.
8 : Marine Res Inst, IS-121 Reykjavik, Iceland.
9 : Inst Marine Res, Swedish Board Fisheries, SE-45321 Lysekil, Sweden.
10 : Cent Inst Marine Res, ISPRA, Rome, Italy.
11 : Rijkswaterstaat Ctr Water Management, Minist Transport Publ Works & Water Management, NL-8200 AA Lelystad, Netherlands.
12 : Finnish Environm Inst SYKE, Marine Spatial Planning Unit, FI-00251 Helsinki, Finland.
Source Ecological Indicators (1470-160X) (Elsevier Science Bv), 2012-01 , Vol. 12 , N. 1 , P. 174-184
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.03.021
WOS© Times Cited 111
Keyword(s) Sea-floor Integrity, Benthic indicators, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Good Environmental Status
Abstract The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires European states to maintain their marine waters in 'Good Environmental Status'. The MSFD includes 11 descriptors of "Good Environmental Status" (GES), including "Sea-floor Integrity". This descriptor is defined as: "Sea-floor integrity is at a level that ensures that the structure and functions of the ecosystems are safeguarded and benthic ecosystems, in particular, are not adversely affected." This contribution briefly summarizes the main conclusions of an international expert group established to review the scientific basis for making this concept operational. The experts concluded that consideration of 8 attributes of the seabed system would provide adequate information to meet requirements of the MSFD: (i) substratum, (ii) bioengineers, (iii) oxygen concentration, (iv) contaminants and hazardous substances, (v) species composition, (vi) size distribution, (vii) trophodynamics and (viii) energy flow and life history traits. The experts further concluded that "Good Environmental Status" cannot be defined exclusively as "pristine Environmental Status", but rather status when impacts of all uses were sustainable. Uses are sustainable if two conditions are met: the pressures associated with those uses do not hinder the ecosystem components to retain their natural diversity, productivity and dynamic ecological processes recovery from perturbations such that the attributes lie within their range of historical natural variation must be rapid and secure. No single specific suite of indicators is proposed, both because no single set of indicators will meet the needs of all EU countries in all regional seas, and because according to the MSFD indicator selection is the prerogative of individual states. However, the need for conceptual consistency in assessing GES throughout European seas should be served if the selection of indicators and the integration of their information content in assessing GES follow the guidance in the report of the TG on Seafloor Integrity. This guidance is presented here in summary form. Informed by this report European Commission selected as indicators for the Sea-floor Integrity: (i) type, abundance, biomass and areal extent of relevant biogenic substrate; (ii) extent of the seabed significantly affected by human activities for the different substrate types; (iii) presence of particularly sensitive and/or tolerant species; (iv) multi-metric indices assessing benthic community condition and functionality, such as species diversity and richness, proportion of opportunistic to sensitive species; (v) proportion of biomass or number of individuals in the macrobenthos above some specified length/size; and (vi) parameters describing the characteristics (shape, slope and intercept) of the size spectrum of the benthic community. Crown Copyright (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Rice Jake, Arvanitidis Christos, Borja Angel, Frid Chris, Hiddink Jan G., Krause Jochen, Lorance Pascal, Ragnarsson Stefan Aki, Skold Mattias, Trabucco Benedetta, Enserink Lisette, Norkko Alf (2012). Indicators for Sea-floor Integrity under the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Ecological Indicators, 12(1), 174-184. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :