No specific methodological standards have been established/agreed for the monitoring and assessment of hydrographical conditions under the MSFD. The in-depth assessment for MSFD Art. 8, 9 and 10 revealed inconsistencies in methodological approaches, thresholds and limits, identifying the need for commonly agreed and comparable approaches to ensure a minimum level of coherence.

The WFD is referred to in the MSFD and specifically in the Commission Decision for Descriptor 7. The WFD, provides definitions for high, good and moderate ecological status for a set of hydromorphological quality elements (WFD Annex II, section 1.2.4 B) that are to a large extent similar to the hydrographical parameters referred to in Annex III of the MSFD.

There are also a number of tools at EU level that support Member States with the control of activities that can result in permanent alterations of hydrographical conditions. Some of these tools are referred to explicitly in the MSFD, such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP).