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State of Europe's seas - EEA Report No 2/2015 (2015)

Description

The main aim of this report is to assess whether Europe's seas can be considered healthy, clean and undisturbed, and productive. These are three core aspects of the EU's main marine policy instrument — the Marine Strategy Framework Directive — and relate to the condition of marine ecosystems and the human drivers of ecosystem change. This assessment also involves identifying the main sustainability challenges affecting our seas, and how the EU is responding to these challenges. Ultimately, the report argues that EU is not on the path to fulfil its ambition of achieving sustainable use of its seas; although it is fully empowered to do so through the current array of policies and knowledge. This report also discusses how a long-term transition to sustainability could then be secured using the available policies and knowledge.
The report widely addresses expected effects (e.g. on chemistry and physics of the oceans, marine biodiversity, species distribution, population dynamics, distribution of non-indigenous species, fishery, eutrophication, contamination, marine and coastal human activities) of climate change on Europe’s seas, as in particular those related to: increasing sea temperatures, ocean acidification and exacerbation of other pressures acting on the seas. The assessment argues that climate change is already taking a toll in Europe's seas by warming and acidifying its waters. For example one of the visible consequences of anthropogenic climate change are the shifts in marine species distribution towards more northerly (and thus colder) regions, namely of species with commercial value such as those targeted by fisheries. This climate-induced change in the geography of marine species also affects human international relations, as shown by conflict amongst countries sharing fish resources in northern European seas. The report also analyses the regulation service provided by seas in terms of “climate regulation by carbon sequestration”.

Reference information

Websites:
Source:
European Environment Agency

Keywords

Europe’s seas, MSFD, acidification, ecosystem service, ecosystem-based management, natural capital, sea temperature

Climate impacts

Extreme Temperatures, Sea Level Rise, Storms

Elements

Vulnerability Assessment, Sector Policies

Sectors

Biodiversity, Marine and Fisheries

Geographic characterisation

Europe

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