D2.1. Report on lessons learned of national 2012 assessment and GES definition. 

Open Access Report 2017

QuietMED – Joint programme on noise (D11) for the implementation of the Second Cycle of the MSFD in the Mediterranean Sea

This document is the Deliverable “D2.1. Report on lessons learned of national 2012 assessment and GES definition” of the QUIETMED project funded by the DG Environment of the European Commission within the call “DG ENV/MSFD Second Cycle/2016”. The QUIETMED project aims to enhance cooperation among Member States (MS) in the Mediterranean Sea to implement the Second Cycle of the Marine Directive and in particular to assist them in the preparation of their MSFD reports by 2018 through: i) promoting a common approach at Mediterranean level to update GES and Environmental targets related to Descriptor 11 in each MS marine strategies ii) development of methodological aspects for the implementation of ambient noise monitoring programs (indicator 11.2.1) iii) development of a joint monitoring programme of impulsive noise (Indicator 11.1.1) based on a common register, including gathering and processing of available data on underwater noise. This public document presents a review and comparison of the national implementations. It is based upon the in-depth assessment of national reports on good environmental status, environmental targets and monitoring programmes. It relies also on the update by the project partners of the work conducted so far at national levels. This review confirms disparities among member states’ approaches in GES definition. This disparity is on the one hand due to the wide scope of definitions which extend from pressure-based to risk based and response based definitions. It is also due on the other hand to the lack of scientific knowledge which has lead Member states to stick to the pressure indicators even for more elaborate definitions, which generally makes it quite unrealistic to proof the achievement of the GES at risk or response level. A review of environmental targets definitions is also presented with respect to their general objectives. Most targets aim to regulate activities or pressures. Another significant part of them refers to monitoring. Finally, a fewer number deals with filling the scientific knowledge gap for underwater noise management. There is also a siginificant disparity among member states’ environmental target definitions. This is an expected consequence of the disparity of the GES definition. This is also the consequence of the large scope of the role of environmental targets. In general, the environmental targets are not SMART enough and in particular not specific and not measurable enough. Lastly, the monitoring programs among QuietMED partnership have been compared. The comparison, which includes an update of the programs technical requirements, tends to show that the level of coherence has been improved since the in-depth assessment and already seems to be satisfactory. In particular, all monitoring programs in the QuietMED partnership include impulse sound monitoring, continuous sound monitoring and ambient noise measurements. The main recommendations done by TG noise are generally taken into account into the technical specifications of the programmes in particular in the establishment of impulsive sounds registers. It is also noticeable that a monitoring network of more than twenty stations will be progressively set up at the Mediterranean region. This should provide a good regional cover which can also been completed by opportunistic data or by mobile observatories. Several noise mapping tools have already been developed or have been prototyped. As a conclusion, the disparity of national approaches, which impacts on the other items of the MSFD especially the assessment of marine waters and the setting of environmental targets, needs to be decreased to improve the level of coherency. In a general way, the lessons learned from the first cycle implementation are that GES definition are either elaborated as “aspiration kinds” unlikely to be reached either as a “delineation” of the directive with few added value and without a sufficient level of ambition. A possible way to improve both consistency and coherency of the national GES definitions would be to find a compromise between these two extremes by a convergence of definition at the risk levels.Concerning monitoring programs, a sufficient level of coherency is already achieved but there are still a possible optimization in particular regarding the technical specifications. Possible improvements lie in an optimization of the monitoring strategies (spatial resolution, long term monitoring positions, data sharing and ambient noise models benchmarking). In terms of environmental and anthropogenic activity data, which are critical in sound mapping, a possible improvement lies in a better link between other EU policies and projects for instance to feed models with EU referenced data set (as for instance for AIS and VMS data). In addition, a particular attention has to be paid for neighboring subregions to ensure coherency and relevance in cross-border assessments.

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Keywords: GES definition

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