Standardized methods for monitoring for descriptors 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10

The JRC is working toward the identification of methodological approaches to monitoring for MSFD descriptors 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10, with a view to proposing standardised methods for monitoring, including spatial and temporal sampling strategies, (for possible use under Article 11(4) of MSFD), and identifying aspects which need further harmonisation between Member States to improve the consistency of monitoring data. To prepare for the work, a thorough review is being carried out of the state of the art methodological approaches at national and Regional Sea Conventions (RSCs) level, Member State's reports for Article 11 on monitoring programmes, and other relevant sources.

Task Groups
In the preparatory phase of the MSFD implementation process, Task Groups of independent scientific experts were established for each descriptor with the aim of establishing the criteria and methodological standards that Member States would need to assess the state of their marine and coastal waters and to achieve Good Environmental Status. These Task Groups carried out their analyses and drafted their Reports in 2009 and 2010 in preparation for the Commission Decision on criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status of marine waters (2010/477/EU). The Reports provide guidance on the interpretation and application of each descriptor, addressing the key attributes and indicators, spatial and temporal scales, and methodological standards for its assessment.
The Report prepared by the Management group (Task Group chairs, and representatives of the JRC and the ICES) provides information on a number of issues that are common to all of the descriptors.
In-depth assessment

Complementing MSFD Article 12 notifications and Commission's assessment, an in-depth assessment of the Member States initial reports (Art. 8,9 and 10) was undertaken by the Joint Research Centre with the objectives

  • to evaluate the comparability and coherence of assessment methods with those conducted in the frame of other European and international legislations;
  • to provide recommendations for improved implementation of the MSFD in the second cycle (2018);
  • to support a possible revision of the Commission Decision on Criteria and Methodological Standards (2010/477/EU).

The evaluation was based on Member States initial reporting sheets and full reports, as well as the Article 12 assessment prepared for DG Environment by Milieu Ltd (consultant's report).

Review Commission Decision
The scientific and technical review of the Commission Decision 2010/477/EU and MSFD Annex III, launched by the Commission and Member States in 2014 following a mandate of the MSFD Committee, aimed at improving MSFD implementation and achieving greater consistency and coherence in determining and assessing good environmental status (GES). The results of the review process were captured in descriptor-specific 'review manuals' published by JRC and ICES in 2015. In the review process, a number of technical issues were identified which required further work.
The review process resulted in a revised GES Decision and MSFD Annex III, which makes provision for specific threshold values and methodological standards to be agreed at Union level, whilst others are to be developed at regional or subregional level, such as through the Regional Sea Conventions.