Coasts and seas
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Human activities are causing unprecedented environmental changes for coastal and marine ecosystems. Pressures from fishing, pollution from land- and sea-based sources, urbanisation, loss and degradation of valuable habitat, and invasions of non-native species are growing worldwide. All these impacts are likely to be exacerbated by the changing climate. More
- Key facts and messages
- Observed global mean sea level rise has accelerated over the past 15 years. From 2002 to 2009 the contributions of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise increased. In 2007 the IPCC projected a sea level rise of 0.18 to 0.59 m above the 1990 level by 2100 excluding the... more
- Unsustainable fishing occurs in all European Seas and is threatening the viability of European fish stocks. 21 to 60% of the commercial fish stocks in the North-East Atlantic, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean are considered to be outside safe biological limits. more
- Sea surface temperatures and sea level are rising and likely to rise further. The resulting shifts in the geographical and seasonal distribution of marine and coastal species will require adaptations in the management of fisheries and natural habitats to ensure environmental sustainability.... more
- Sustainable use of the seas and the conservation of marine ecosystems through an ecosystem-based approach are being pursued through the Integrated Maritime Policy and its environmental pillar, the 2008 Marine Strategy Framework Directive, under which ‘good environmental status’ in European... more
- Nutrient enrichment is a major problem in the coastal and marine environment, where it accelerates the growth of phytoplankton and can lead to oxygen depletion. Concentrations of some heavy metals and persistent organic contaminants in marine biota exceed food stuff limits in all Europe’s seas. more
- Designation of coastal and marine sites as part of Natura 2000, although improving, has been slow and difficult. The conservation status of some coastal and most marine habitats still needs to be assessed, while 22 % of marine mammals are threatened with extinction. The available data suggest... more
- Degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems is observed in the Black, Mediterranean, Baltic, North East Atlantic Seas and in the Arctic. This trend is caused by fishing, agriculture, the industrial use of chemicals, tourist development, shipping, energy exploitation and other maritime activities.... more
- Growth of the maritime, agriculture and tourism sectors is expected to continue. An important future objective for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive will be to ensure that this growth is sustainable to achieve and then maintain ‘Good Environmental Status’ of the marine environment.... more
- By 2100, ocean acidity could be higher than during the past 20 million years. more
- The third lowest minimum of Arctic summer sea ice occurred in September 2010. more
- In 2007, the IPCC projected a sea level rise of 0.18 to 0.59 m above the 1990 level by 2100. more
- Recent projections show a maximum increase of sea level of about 1.0 m by 2100, while higher values up to 2.0 m cannot be excluded. more
- 30 % of Europe’s fish stocks (for which information exists) are fished outside safe biological levels. more
- The consumption of fish in Europe has been increasing over the last 15 years while fish catches from European waters have decreased. more
- Where marine species and habitat types have been assessed, the majority are found to be in unfavourable or unknown condition; only 10 % of habitats and 2 % of species are found in good condition. more
- The sea surface temperature changes in the European regional seas have been up to six times greater than in the global oceans in the past 25 years. more
- The current reduction of 0.1 in pH that has occurred over the industrial era translates to a 30 % increase in ocean acidity. This change has occurred at a rate that is about a hundred times faster than any change in acidity experienced during the past 55 million of years. A further decline... more
Ninety-four per cent of bathing sites in the European Union meet minimum standards for water quality, according to the European Environment Agency's annual report on bathing water quality in Europe. Water quality is excellent at 78 % of sites and almost 2 % more sites meet the minimum requirements compared to last year's report.
Water pollution and excessive water use are still harming ecosystems, which are indispensable to Europe’s food, energy, and water supplies. To maintain water ecosystems, farming, planning, energy and transport sectors need to actively engage in managing water within sustainable limits.
Climate change is affecting all regions in Europe, causing a wide range of impacts on society and the environment. Further impacts are expected in the future, potentially causing high damage costs, according to the latest assessment published by the European Environment Agency today.
More than 21 % of the land has some kind of protected status in the 39 countries which work with the European Environment Agency (EEA). However, only 4 % of the sea controlled by countries of the European Union is included within the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, according to a new report from the EEA.
The quality of bathing water across Europe declined slightly between 2009 and 2010, but the overall quality was still high. More than nine out of 10 bathing water sites now meet the minimum requirements.
Europe’s coastal zones are under increasing pressure from erosion, pollution, climate change, urbanisation and tourism. Such pressures threaten entire ecosystems — vital not only for wildlife but also for the economy and human well-being. The European Environment Agency (EEA) takes a closer look at the state of coastal ecosystems and policy responses to the pressures affecting them.
Clean bathing waters are vital for key economic sectors such as tourism and for plant and animal life. The annual bathing water report presented by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency shows that 96 % of coastal bathing areas and 90 % of bathing sites in rivers and lakes complied with minimum standards in 2009. It also describes where to obtain detailed and up-to-date information on bathing sites.
Clean fresh water is essential to life. Unfortunately, almost all human activities affect water quality. On World Water Day, 22 March, the European Environment Agency (EEA) is enriching the information on the web-based Water Information System for Europe (WISE) with two new sets of data on urban waste water and pollutant releases.