, Volume 106, Issue 2, pp 157–175 | Cite as

Searching for undesirable disturbance: an application of the OSPAR eutrophication assessment method to marine waters of England and Wales

  • Jo FodenEmail author
  • Michelle J. Devlin
  • David K. Mills
  • Stephen J. Malcolm


The OSPAR Eutrophication Strategy requires assessment of eutrophication to be based on the ecological consequences of nutrient enrichment and not just on nutrient enrichment alone, i.e. finding reliable evidence for accelerated growth of algae and higher forms of plant life caused by anthropogenic nutrient enrichment, leading to undesirable disturbance. Fully flushed marine waters of England and Wales (salinity >30) were assessed against OSPAR’s harmonised criteria of nutrient concentration and ratios, chlorophyll concentrations, phytoplankton indicator species, macrophytes, dissolved oxygen (DO) levels, incidence of fish kills and changes in the zoobenthos, using region specific thresholds. None of the thirteen assessment areas, including six nutrient enriched areas, exhibited evidence for undesirable disturbance. This paper details the methods and the overall outcome of the assessment. It presents evidence that undesirable disturbance caused by nutrient enrichment was not detected in English and Welsh marine waters assessed under the OSPAR procedure. The main reasons for the lack of eutrophication problems, such as the underwater light climate limiting the accelerated growth of algae, which might otherwise result from nutrient enrichment, are discussed.


Accelerated growth Eutrophication Assessment criteria Marine OSPAR Undesirable disturbance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jo Foden
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Michelle J. Devlin
    • 1
    • 3
  • David K. Mills
    • 1
  • Stephen J. Malcolm
    • 1
  1. 1.Environment and EcosystemsCentre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)LowestoftUK
  2. 2.School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  3. 3.Catchment to Reef Research Group, ACTFRJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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