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Challenges and difficulties in assessing the environmental status under the requirements of the Ecosystem Approach in North African countries, illustrated by eutrophication assessment

Abstract

Marine ecosystems provide many ecosystem goods and services. However, these ecosystems and the benefits they create for humans are subject to competing uses and increasing pressures. As a consequence of the increasing threats to the marine environment, several regulations require applying an ecosystem-based approach for managing the marine environment. Within the Mediterranean Sea, in 2008, the Contracting Parties of the Mediterranean Action Plan decided to progressively apply the Ecosystem Approach (EcAp) with the objective of achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) for 2018. To assess the environmental status, the EcAp proposes 11 Ecological Objectives, each of which requires a set of relevant indicators to be integrated. Progress towards the EcAp entails a gradual and important challenge for North African countries, and efforts have to be initiated to propose and discuss methods. Accordingly, to enhance the capacity of North African countries to implement EcAp and particularly to propose and discuss indicators and methods to assess GES, the aim of this manuscript is to identify the practical problems and gaps found at each stage of the environmental status assessment process. For this purpose, a stepwise method has been proposed to assess the environmental status using Ecologic Objective 5-Eutrophication as example.

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Acknowledgments

This work is part of the research performed within the EU FP7 program “Marine Ecosystem Dynamics and Indicators for North-Africa” (MEDINA; grant number 282977; http://www.medinaproject.eu/puplic/home.php). We would like to thank Marta Dinarès for the useful suggestions.

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Garmendia, M., Borja, Á., Breton, F. et al. Challenges and difficulties in assessing the environmental status under the requirements of the Ecosystem Approach in North African countries, illustrated by eutrophication assessment. Environ Monit Assess 187, 289 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-015-4316-x

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Keywords

  • Ecosystem Approach
  • Eutrophication
  • Mediterranean Action Plan
  • Good Environmental Status
  • Indicators
  • North Africa
  • Mediterranean Sea