Towards the Fully Data-Based 2023 MED QSR: Filling the Data Gap
- Acknowledging findings, needs and gaps identified in 2017 MED QSR, the following directions are recommended:
- Harmonize and standardize monitoring and assessment methods.
- Improve availability and ensure long time series of quality assured data to monitor the trends in the status of the marine environment.
- Improve availability of the synchronized datasets for marine environment state assessment, including use of data stored in other databases were some of the Mediterranean countries regularly contribute.
- Improve data accessibility with the view to improve knowledge on the Mediterranean marine environment and ensure that Info-MAP System is operational and continuously upgraded, to accommodate data submissions for all the IMAP Common Indicators.
- Improve knowledge on distributional range, extent and condition of habitats, as well as on the pressures affecting them, their spatial distribution and potential cumulative effects, leading to structured data-led assessments of environmental status of the Mediterranean's marine habitats.
- Define the reference state of habitats and species as well as a target threshold value to achieve at the national and sub-regional levels.
- Improve information on distribution, population abundance and demographic characteristics of key species ( marine birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and cephalopods) and on the condition of their habitats, as well as on the pressures affecting them, leading to structured data-led assessments of environmental status of the Mediterranean's marine species.
- Work to further improve the develop assessment criteria, when feasible, for those habitats and species based on adequate data availability.
- Develop a specific roadmap, in line with Decision IG20/4, for the upcoming CORMONs to discuss, on how to further develop Ecological Objectives, which are currently not part of IMAP, namely Ecological Objective 4 “Food webs” and Ecological objective 6 “Sea-flor integrity”.
- Better estimate the trends in rates of introduction, abundance and distribution of non-indigenous species, through elaboration of regular dedicated monitoring.
- Provide for sound conclusions with regard to impacts of non-indigenous species, based on experiments or ecological modelling.
Coast and Hydrography:
- Enhance human and technical capacities for monitoring and assessment of the coast and hydrography.
- Fill the knowledge and scientific gaps (e.g. impacts of hydrographic alterations to habitats).
- Further develop the indicator on land use change with the view to be included in the Common Indicators list.
Pollution and Litter:
- Review the scope of the biological effects monitoring programmes and confirm the added value of biomarkers in long-term marine monitoring as ‘early warning’ systems.
- Further develop harmonized monitoring protocols, risk-based approaches, analytical testing and assessment methodologies for monitoring levels of the contaminants in commonly consumed sea food.
- Test new research-proved tools for monitoring toxic effects.
- Develop region-wide harmonized criteria for reference condition and threshold/boundaries values for key nutrients in water column, taking account of available standards for coastal waters.
- Develop assessment criteria for integrated chemical and biological assessment methods.
- Continue the work on underwater noise and its impact on marine fauna, in close collaboration with the relevant bodies, especially ACCOBAMS.
- Improve knowledge on Emerging Chemicals.
- Ensure testing of the Background Assessment Criteria (BACs) and Environmental Assessment Criteria (EACs) and thresholds application on a trial basis in interested countries and regional and sub-regional level.
- Have application of the BACs and EACs as an evolving process to be updated on a continuous basis, their further update and refinement need to be ensured as to take into account new available data, as well as sub-regional specificities in the Mediterranean basins.
- Sea-based sources of litter should be further analyzed and specified, given the fact that Mediterranean is a global hotspot for maritime transport and sea-based tourism such as cruises.
- Follow up development of harmonized and standardized monitoring and assessment methods for marine litter and its impacts, including through active participation of MAP in relevant processes such as the ongoing work of MSFD Technical Group on Marine Litter. Such methods would facilitate and be used for monitoring the implementation of the Regional Action Plan against marine litter and of achievement of the 20% reduction target (by 2024) established by COP 19 Decision on marine litter [including enhancement of the identification and evaluation of marine litter accumulation (stranding fluxes, loads and linkage with specific sources) and hotspots using GIS and mapping systems and modelling tools, as well understanding of transport dynamics and accumulation zones.