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Europe's seas are home to a rich and diverse array of species, habitats and ecosystems. Although vital for Europe's economic and social wellbeing, many of these ecosystems risk being irreversibly damaged by human activities. 'Marine messages', a briefing from the European Environment Agency (EEA), provides an overview of the current state-of-affairs of European seas and our use of them. It argues that economic activities including transport, fishing, offshore energy and tourism should be better managed so that they ensure sustainable health of marine ecosystems.
The objective of this report is to frame an analytical approach for coastal areas in Europe, and to place this in the context of the new socio‑economic drivers of sustainable growth, and the formation of a new integrated policy framework. This framework builds on an ecosystem‑based management approach and integrated spatial planning and management. The report presents some key sustainability challenges for European coastal areas and waters, and highlights the need for a consolidated knowledge base and widespread information‑sharing to support informed policy development and management actions.
Chemicals are an essential part of our daily lives and are used to produce consumer goods, to protect or restore our health and to boost food production, to name but a few examples. Some chemicals, however, are hazardous, raising concerns for the environment and human health. Hazardous substances are emitted to fresh and marine waters via a number of pathways and can have detrimental effects on aquatic biota. Humans can be exposed to hazardous substances in water through the ingestion of contaminated drinking water and the consumption of contaminated freshwater fish and seafood. A wide range of legislation now exists in Europe to address the release of hazardous substances to the environment, including water. New challenges exist, however, including the issues of chemical mixtures and emerging pollutants.
European marine regions include the north-east Atlantic and Arctic oceans, and the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic seas. Human activities — such as fishing, aquaculture and agriculture — and climate change cause large and severe impacts on Europe's coastal and marine ecosystems. The EU objective of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 has not been met in either the coastal or the marine environment. Recognising the need for an integrated ecosystem-based approach to reduce pressures, the EU Integrated Maritime Policy allows for the development of sea-related activities in a sustainable manner. Its environmental pillar, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, aims to deliver 'good environmental status' of the marine environment by 2020, and the Common Fisheries Policy will be reformed in 2012 with the aim of achieving sustainable fisheries. Complementary policy efforts include the EU Water Framework Directive and other freshwater legislation, and the Habitats and Birds Directives.
Key messages: 1) As an interface between land and sea, European coastlines provide vital resources for wildlife, but also for the economy and human health and well-being. 2) Multiple pressures, including habitat loss and degradation, pollution, climate change and overexploitation of fish stocks, affect coastal ecosystems. 3) Coastal habitat types and species of Community interest are at risk in Europe; two thirds of coastal habitat types and more than half of coastal species have an unfavourable conservation status. 4) Integrated and ecosystem-based approaches provide the foundation for sustainable coastal management and development, supporting socio-economic development, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Coordinated action at the global, regional and local levels will be key to sustainable management of coastal ecosystems.
Ecosystem accounting and the cost of biodiversity losses — the case of coastal Mediterranean wetlands28 Apr 2010
This report focuses on ways we can use land and ecosystem accounting techniques to describe and monitor the consequences of biodiversity loss in the coastal wetlands of the Mediterranean. These ecosystems are characterised by the close coupling of economic, social and ecological processes, and any accounting system has to represent how these key elements are linked and change over time. This report discusses the importance of estimating the ecological and social costs of maintaining these systems, and the problems surrounding providing monetary estimates of the services associated with wetlands. It also shows how individual wetland socio-ecological systems (SES) can be defined and mapped using the remotely sensed land cover information from Corine Land Cover.
Marine ecosystems provide key services both globally and locally, which are essential for maintaining life on our planet. However, marine biodiversity faces an unprecedented range of pressures. In recent years climate change has caused changes in species distribution and presents new challenges for marine biodiversity as oceans become more acidic.
Signals is published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) at the start of each year and provides snapshot stories on issues of interest both to the environmental policy debate and the wider public for the upcoming year. The eight stories addressed are not exhaustive but have been selected on the basis of their relevance to the current environmental policy debate in Europe. They address priority issues of climate change, nature and biodiversity, the use of natural resources and health.
This report provides information on the state of the environment in the coastal areas of Europe, and provides evidence of the need for a more integrated, long-term approach. Since 1995, concern about the state of Europe's coastline has led to a number of EU initiatives, which build on the concept of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM). ICZM attempts to balance the needs of development with protection of the very resources that sustain coastal economies. It also takes into account the public's concern about the deteriorating environmental, socio-economic and cultural state of the European coastline.
Following the principles of the European Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment, the collective interest of EEA and UNEP/MAP has been developed towards a product focusing on priority pollution zones in the Mediterranean Sea and addressing emerging issues. All these issues come under the prism of an ecosystem approach. The core of this report derives from the latest (2003–2004) country National Diagnostic Analyses reports (NDA).
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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