Descriptor 5 is defined in Annex I of the MSFD as "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". Following the definition given by a dedicated MSFD Task Group Report on Descriptor 5, eutrophication is "a process driven by enrichment of water by nutrients, especially compounds of nitrogen and/or phosphorus, leading to: increased growth, primary production and biomass of algae; changes in the balance of organisms; and water quality degradation. The consequences of eutrophication are undesirable if they appreciably degrade the ecosystem health and/or the sustainable provision of goods and services."
© Fotolia, Author: Veronika Synenko


As stated in the COM DEC [2010/477/EU pdf] "The assessment of eutrophication in marine waters needs to take into account the assessment for coastal and transitional waters under Directive 2000/60/EC (Annex V, 1.2.3 and 1.2.4) and related guidance (Guidance Document on the Eutrophication Assessment in the Context of European Water Policies, Document No 23. European Commission (2009) ) in a way which ensures comparability, taking also into consideration the information and knowledge gathered and approaches developed in the framework of regional sea conventions".

The criteria and indicators for D5 assessment (listed below) should be synergistically considered. WFD assessments for the transitional water should be also used for the MSFD D5 assessment, where the WFD's Good Ecological Status should be linked with the MSFD's Good Environmental Status.
D5 Commission Decision 2010/477/EU

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.

The assessment of eutrophication in marine waters needs to take into account the assessment for coastal and transitional waters under Directive 2000/60/EC (Annex V, 1.2.3 and 1.2.4) and related guidance ( 16 ), in a way which ensures comparability, taking also into consideration the information and knowledge gathered and approaches developed in the framework of regional sea conventions. Based on a screening procedure as part of the initial assessment, risk- based considerations may be taken into account to assess eutrophication in an efficient manner ( 17 ). The assessment needs to combine information on nutrient levels and on a range of those primary effects and of secondary effects which are ecologically relevant ( 18 ), taking into account relevant temporal scales. Considering that the concentration of nutrients is related to nutrient loads from rivers in the catchment area, cooperation with landlocked Member States using established cooperation structures in accordance with the third subparagraph of Article 6(2) of Directive 2008/56/EC is particularly relevant.

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