Main research question/goal
Which set of existing or new indicators, and which related measures, data collections, boundaries and intercalibration can represent the quality of the marine environment as expressed in the European Directives? How can this be done in a feasible, correct and objective way? The aim of this study is to further develop, refine and test the existing tools in collaboration with national and international experts. Nowadays, ecological policy and the achievement of a good environmental status is directed by three European directives: the Water Framework Directive (WFD) dealing with coastal waters, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), and the Habitat Directive dealing with marine waters. The European directives are gaining in importance. The need for a validated evaluation and monitoring system that keeps us in touch with current and changing circumstances increases correspondingly. ILVO's role in this project is to provide expertise concerning the evaluation of marine bottom fauna of soft substrates.Research approach
We (ILVO and UGent – Marine Biology) focus on specific ecosystem components (e.g. benthos, plankton) and on EU Directives. By doing so, the indicators fulfill the needs of the EU Directives. We select which different habitat types and related data should and can be evaluated. We define the reference conditions of the marine ecosystem, and determine, test and intercalibrate (harmonization between EU member states) the indicators. For the evaluation of the status of the marine bottom fauna in soft substrates, this is done using the indicator ‘Benthic ecosystem quality index (BEQI) which is based on reference and assessment data for the different soft substrate habitat types. The project aims to supply tools, that function as a reliable barometer concerning the quality of the marine environment.Relevance/Valorisation
This environmental barometer (a set of indicators used in the evaluation and monitoring reports) can be used at different policy levels. It enables us to assess and compare the (regional) environmental status and to develop measures according to requirements of Europe. The 3 European directives that are in force have stringent demands for policy: they need indicators, an evaluation procedure, monitoring, a harmonization between EU member states and an improvement scenario. This research delivers the necessary advices to implement these demands in an optimal and cost efficient way. The scientific expertise and analyses produce readily available policy advice.
Belspo - Belgian Science Polycy