Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Mediterranean Sea and Coast

The Ecosystem Approach in the Mediterranean is being implemented in accordance with a seven-step roadmap. It is now fully integrated into the MAP and Barcelona Convention framework and is in line with the EU Marine Strategic Framework Directive and the decisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) regarding the ecosystem approach and the Aichi targets.

Monitoring and assessment of the sea and coast, based on scientific knowledge, are the indispensable basis for the management of human activities, in view of promoting the sustainable use of the seas and coasts and conserving marine ecosystems and their sustainable development. The 19th Meeting of Contracting Parties in 2016 agreed on the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Mediterranean Sea and Coast and Related Assessment Criteria (IMAP) in its Decision IG. 22/7 which lays down the principles for an integrated monitoring, which will, for the first time, monitor biodiversity and non-indigenous species, pollution and marine litter, coast and hydrography in an integrated manner. The IMAP implementation is in line with article 12 of the Barcelona Convention and several monitoring related provisions under different protocols with the main objective to assess GES. Its backbone are the 27 common indicators as presented in decision IG 22/7: Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (see Table 1).

Table 1. List of IMAP Ecological Objectives (EOs) and Indicators

Ecological Objective

IMAP Indicators

EO 1 Biodiversity

Biological diversity is maintained or enhanced. The quality and occurrence of coastal and marine habitats and the distribution and abundance of coastal and marine species are in line with prevailing physiographic, hydrographic, geographic and climatic conditions.

Common Indicator 1: Habitat distributional range (EO1) to also consider habitat extent as a relevant attribute

Common Indicator 2: Condition of the habitat’s typical species and communities (EO1)

Common Indicator 3: Species distributional range (EO1 related to marine mammals, seabirds, marine reptiles)

Common Indicator 4: Population abundance of selected species (EO1, related to marine mammals, seabirds, marine reptiles)

Common indicator 5: Population demographic characteristics (EO1, e.g. body size or age class structure, sex ratio, fecundity rates, survival/mortality rates related to marine mammals, seabirds, marine reptiles)

EO 2 Non-indigenous species

Non-indigenous species introduced by human activities are at levels that do not adversely alter the ecosystem

Common Indicator 6: Trends in abundance, temporal occurrence, and spatial distribution of non-indigenous species, particularly invasive, non-indigenous species, notably in risk areas (EO2, in relation to the main vectors and pathways of spreading of such species)

EO 3 Harvest of commercially exploited fish and shellfish

Populations of selected commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within biologically safe limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock

Common Indicator 7: Spawning stock Biomass (EO3);

Common Indicator 8: Total landings (EO3);

Common Indicator 9: Fishing Mortality (EO3);

Common Indicator 10: Fishing effort (EO3);

Common Indicator 11: Catch per unit of effort (CPUE) or Landing per unit of effort (LPUE) as a proxy (EO3)

Common Indicator 12: Bycatch of vulnerable and non-target species (EO1 and EO3)

EO 4 Marine food webs

Alterations to components of marine food webs caused by resource extraction or human-induced environmental changes do not have long-term adverse effects on food web dynamics and related viability

To be further developed

EO 5 Eutrophication

Human-induced eutrophication is prevented, especially adverse effects thereof, such as losses in biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, harmful algal blooms and oxygen deficiency in bottom waters.

Common Indicator 13: Concentration of key nutrients in water column (EO5);

Common Indicator 14: Chlorophyll-a concentration in water column (EO5)

EO 6 Sea-floor integrity

Sea-floor integrity is maintained, especially in priority benthic habitats

To be further developed

EO7 Hydrography

Alteration of hydrographic conditions does not adversely affect coastal and marine ecosystems.

Common Indicator 15: Location and extent of the habitats impacted directly by hydrographic alterations (EO7) to also feed the assessment of EO1 on habitat extent

EO 8 Coastal ecosystems and landscapes

The natural dynamics of coastal areas are maintained and coastal ecosystems and landscapes are preserved

Common Indicator 16: Length of coastline subject to physical disturbance due to the influence of man-made structures (EO8);

Candidate Indicator 25: Land use change (EO8)

EO 9 Pollution

Contaminants cause no significant impact on coastal and marine ecosystems and human health

Common Indicator 17: Concentration of key harmful contaminants measured in the relevant matrix (EO9, related to biota, sediment, seawater)

Common Indicator 18:  Level of pollution effects of key contaminants where a cause and effect relationship has been established (EO9)

Common Indicator 19: Occurrence, origin (where possible), extent of acute pollution events (e.g. slicks from oil, oil products and hazardous substances), and their impact on biota affected by this pollution (EO9);

Common Indicator 20: Actual levels of contaminants that have been detected and number of contaminants which have exceeded maximum regulatory levels in commonly consumed seafood (EO9);

Common Indicator 21: Percentage of intestinal enterococci concentration measurements within established standards (EO9)

EO 10   Marine litter

Marine and coastal litter do not adversely affect coastal and marine environment

Common Indicator 22: Trends in the amount of litter washed ashore and/or deposited on coastlines (EO10);

Common Indicator 23:  Trends in the amount of litter in the water column including microplastics and on the seafloor (EO10);

Candidate Indicator 24: Trends in the amount of litter ingested by or entangling marine organisms focusing on selected mammals, marine birds, and marine turtles (EO10)

EO 11   Energy including underwater noise

Noise from human activities cause no significant impact on marine and coastal ecosystems

Candidate Indicator 26: Proportion of days and geographical distribution where loud, low, and mid-frequency impulsive sounds exceed levels that are likely to entail significant impact on marine animal

Candidate Indicator 27: Levels of continuous low frequency sounds with the use of models as appropriate


The implementation of IMAP requires standard guidelines and approaches in monitoring the common indicators and the revision of national monitoring programmes of the Contracting Parties to be aligned with the IMAP indicators. Regular national data reporting will contribute to thematic and overall regional assessments. The first integrated assessment based on IMAP is the 2017 Quality Status Report. It builds upon an initial Integrated Ecosystem Assessment developed in 2011, the 2012 Mediterranean State of Environment Report, as well as several thematic assessments undertaken in recent years.