D2.3 End Report on GES criteria assessment at basin scale with focus on the consistency and coherence of approaches at national levels (including operational targets definition)

Open Access Report 2018

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 “End Report on GES criteria assessment at basin scale with focus on the consistency and coherence of approaches at national levels (including operational targets definition) and conclusions on generalization to other contracting parties of the Barcelona Convention (December 5th)” of the QUIETMED project funded by the DG Environment of the European Commission within the call “DG ENV/MSFD Second Cycle/2016”. This call funds the next phase of MSFD implementation, in particular to achieve regionally coherent, coordinated and consistent updates of the determinations of GES, initial assessments and sets of environmental targets by July 2018, in accordance with Article 17(2a and 2b), Article 5(2) and Article 3(5) of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC). 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 addresses the arguments that should support the achievement of a common understanding of criteria for Good Environmental Status, and a shared view of the assessment methodology with respect to both continuous and impulsive noise. The first part of the document presents a review of methodologies and approaches for assessment of environmental status, including outside the strict MSFD framework, and an in-deep analysis of the Commission Decision 2017/848 on criteria and methodological standards for monitoring and assessment of GES. Then, proposals are developed of a common ground for the definition of GES in the Mediterranean Sea. In this part, a focus is also put on the methodology for the assessment of noise criteria for the determination of the environmental status. To this end, we develop both the methodological standards outlined in the Commission Decision 2017/848, and the recommendations formulated in quietMed Deliverable 2.1 on “Lessons learned of national 2012 assessment and GES definition” on how to move towards a more coherent and shared understanding of GES and assessment methods. The principle proposition of this part of the document is the adoption of a risk-based definition of GES, where biological and ecological risks caused by anthropogenic underwater noise are considered in the definition of GES. The topic of thresholds is also addressed. This deliverable proposes the principles for considering thresholds in the assessment of noise criteria and therefore in the determination of GES. In particular, this document supports and develops the concept, proposed in D2.1, of a catalogue of risks (biological and ecological risks) that should be shared at the regional level, where countries can select the risks that are deemed adapted to their specificities. It is proposed that threshold values be associated to the risks listed in this catalogue. Further, this document discusses the possibility to build the catalogue of risks, and the associated thresholds, upon the characteristics of areas designated both at the national and international level for the protection of species that are also acknowledged as noise-sensitive. In practice, this proposition would mean that the risks and associated threshold values are selected for the assessment according to noise-sensitive species that live in such areas as MPAs (including the maritime NATURA 2000 network), Critical Cetacean Habitats (CCHs), Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs), and Special Protection Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMIs, including the Pelagos Sanctuary) which are distributed in the Mediterranea basin. Finally, this Deliverable addresses the topic of environmental targets. First, we discuss the recommendations contained in D2.1 about what targets should be focused on. And secondly, we propose practical elements for the consideration of baselines, and for the setting of targets. The document ends with a discussion of an integrated assessment of Descriptor 1 (biodiversity) and 11.

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