, Volume 629, Issue 1, pp 49–58 | Cite as

Assessment of the eutrophication status of transitional, coastal and marine waters within OSPAR

  • Ulrich Claussen
  • Wanda Zevenboom
  • Uwe Brockmann
  • Dilek Topcu
  • Peter Bot


Eutrophication (nutrient enrichment and subsequent processes) and its adverse ecosystem effects have been discussed as main issues over the last 20 years in international conferences and conventions for the protection of the marine environment such as the North Sea Conferences and the 1992 OSPAR Convention (OSPAR; which combined and updated the 1972 Oslo Convention on dumping waste at the sea and the 1974 Paris Convention on land-based sources of marine pollution). OSPAR committed itself to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen inputs (in the order of 50% compared with 1985) into the marine areas and ‘to combat eutrophication to achieve, by the year 2010, a healthy marine environment where eutrophication does not occur’. Within OSPAR, the Comprehensive Procedure (COMPP) has been developed and used to assess the eutrophication status of the OSPAR maritime area in an harmonised way. This is based on classification in terms of the following types of areas Non-Problem Areas (no effects), Potential Problem Areas (not enough data to assess effects) and Problem Areas (effects due to elevated nutrients and/or due to transboundary transport from adjacent areas). The COMPP consists of a set of harmonised assessment criteria with their area-specific assessment levels and an integrated area classification approach. The criteria cover all aspects of nutrient enrichment (nutrient inputs, concentrations and ratios) as well as possible direct effects (e.g. increased levels of nuisance and/or toxic phytoplankton species, shifts and/or losses of submerged aquatic vegetation) and indirect effects (e.g. oxygen deficiency, changes and/or death of benthos, death of fish, algal toxins). The COMPP also includes supporting environmental factors. It takes account of synergies and harmonisation with the EC Water Framework Directive, and has formed a major basis for the EC eutrophication guidance. Recently, additional components, such as total nitrogen, total phosphorus and transboundary transports have been included in the assessment of, e.g. the German Bight. The second application of the COMPP resulting in an update of the eutrophication status of the OSPAR maritime area will be finalised in 2008, and will include the agreed integrated set of Ecological Quality Objectives (EcoQOs) with respect to eutrophication.


Eutrophication Assessment OSPAR Comprehensive procedure German Bight North Sea 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Claussen
    • 1
  • Wanda Zevenboom
    • 2
  • Uwe Brockmann
    • 3
  • Dilek Topcu
    • 3
  • Peter Bot
    • 4
  1. 1.German Federal Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt)DessauGermany
  2. 2.Ministry of TransportPublic Works and Water Management, RWS-North Sea Directorate Water and ShippingRijswijkThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute for Biogeochemistry and Marine ChemistryHamburg UniversityHamburgGermany
  4. 4.Rijkswaterstaat WaterdienstLelystadThe Netherlands

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