Introduction

1. Background

Monitoring is a well-established function of the Helsinki Convention. Coordinated monitoring of physical, chemical and biological variables of the open sea of the Baltic Sea has been carried out since 1979.

HELCOM monitoring is closely linked to environmental assessments and periodical assessment reports have been published since the 1980s. Since the 2000s the occasional production of reports evolved to regular publications of Baltic Sea thematic and holistic assessments. This development was supported by the first version of the HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy in 2005.

The Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), adopted in 2007, further emphasizes the need to monitor and assess the change in the marine environment and the progress towards the visions, goals and objectives of the BSAP.

In 2010, the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting decided to establish, for those HELCOM Contracting Parties being also EU-Member States, the role of HELCOM as the coordinating platform for the regional implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in the Baltic Sea. The Meeting also agreed that a common understanding of Good Environmental Status (GES) should be based on joint indicators and coordinated monitoring providing the necessary data for regular assessment of the status of the Baltic Sea and of pressures and impacts affecting the status.

The HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy was revised in 2013 to support an indicator-based monitoring and assessment approach and a regionally coordinated implementation of the BSAP and the MSFD.

The HELCOM Monitoring Manual was first published in 2014 and contains the monitoring programmes, guidelines and manuals which translate the general principles of the HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy into concrete specifications and requirements.

The current monitoring programmes reflect the state of the art of the HELCOM indicator system and the varied maturity of the indicators. To meet the requirements of the BSAP and the MSFD, the associated revision of existing and establishment of new monitoring is a continuous process, which started in 2014 and is supported through ongoing projects. This includes the EU co-funded project “Progress with the Baltic Sea Pilot Project:Testing new concepts for integrated environmental monitoring of the Baltic Sea(BALSAM)” (2014-2015).


2. Structure of the HElcom monitoring system

The HELCOM Monitoring Manual provides a detailed and transparent documentation of the monitoring programmes and activities in Baltic Sea region, the associated coordination among the Contracting Parties and the state of coherence and consistency of monitoring across borders and regimes. The manual is intended to support HELCOM EU Member States in reporting information about monitoring programmes and activities relevant for the MSFD.


The HELCOM Monitoring Manual

The manual is organized along 11 monitoring programmes (Figure 1). The monitoring activities under the programmes are grouped thematically and presented in 17 programme topic files. In some cases a programme topic file is equivalent to the monitoring programme (e.g. mammals, birds). A programme topic file may also summarize monitoring activities which support several monitoring programmes. The most detailed level of information is provided by 40 sub-programmes, which is a specific EU reporting level. At present, the manual includes information on coordinated monitoring in the Baltic as well as national monitoring activities, not yet coordinated, that can support the monitoring programmes. It is the ambition to develop HELCOM coordinated monitoring for all programmes.

 


 

 Figure 1. Structure of the HELCOM Monitoring Manual (Click to enlarge)


The description of the monitoring activities presented in the sub-programmes links to:

  • the detailed technical guidelines, QA standards and data management arrangements agreed for coordinated monitoring,
  • the data and map service with monitoring-related data products,
  • the HELCOM core indicators and Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets for which the HELCOM monitoring system provides the data basis and which contribute to thematic and holistic assessments.

The Monitoring Manual will gradually integrate the technical guidelines that provide for coordinated monitoring in HELCOM, while at present these are still available as separate entities. These include:  

  • The Pollution Load Compilation guidelines (PLC-Air and PLC-Water): on quantifying emissions of nutrients and hazardous substances to the air, discharges and losses to inland surface waters, and the resulting air and waterborne inputs to the sea.
  • The COMBINE manual: including guidelines for measuring concentrations of nutrients and hazardous substances in marine compartments, eutrophication effects parameters, and coastal fish monitoring.
  • Monitoring of radioactive substances (MORS): on quantifying the sources and inputs of artificial radionuclides, as well as the resulting trend concentrations in the various compartments of the marine environment (water, biota, sediment).
  • The coordination of the surveillance of incidental and illegal oil spills around the Baltic Sea, and the assessment of the numbers and distribution of such spills on an annual basis.
  • Guidelines for reporting of dredging and dumping of dredged material.

 

Updating of the manual

The manual is updated once per year. Changes to be included in the manual should be considered by the HELCOM State and Conservation working group and after its endorsement submitted to the HELCOM Secretariat not later than 1 June. These changes will be valid from 1 January of the following year. All changes will be highlighted by a separate note, section by section.

The official version of the manual is available electronically via the HELCOM home page. Users of pdf copies are requested to check against the official online version.


3. Aims of helcom monitoring

HELCOM joint monitoring provides the necessary data for regular assessments of the state of the Baltic Sea, the human pressures and their impacts affecting the state. It also enables evaluations of the extent to which measures are being effective.


Components

In accordance with the HELCOM Joint Coordinated Monitoring System (Attachment 1, HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy) it enables the assessment of the following components:

  • Biological diversity: population trends, distribution and condition of species and changes in quality and quantity of habitats and biotopes
  • Non-indigenous species: trends in arrival, quantities and impacts
  • Commercially exploited fish and shellfish: trends in population, age and size structure
  • Marine food webs: their occurrence at normal abundance and diversity; levels capable of ensuring the long-term abundance of the species and the retention of their full reproductive capacity
  • Human-induced eutrophication and its effects such as losses in biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, harmful algae blooms and oxygen deficiency in bottom waters
  • Sea-floor integrity: including benthic ecosystems
  • Contaminants: concentrations and biological effects, including radioactive substances
  • Marine litter: quantities and properties
  • Underwater noise: levels

In addition, the monitoring system enables the assessment of pressures and impacts in terms of:

  • Physical loss of, or damage to, habitats, e.g. through smothering, sealing, siltation, abrasion and selective extraction of living and non-living resources
  • Inputs of:
    • heavy metals and synthetic hazardous substances
    • radioactive substances
    • nitrogen and phosphorus as well as organic matter
  • Introductions of:
    • non-indigenous species
    • microbial pathogens
    • marine litter
    • energy, including underwater noise
  • Alteration of hydrological and hydrographical conditions through human activities, including a change in salinity and temperature, as well as acidification
  • Selective extraction of species, including incidental non-target catches (e.g. by commercial and recreational fishing)

HELCOM monitoring should also be arranged to detect climate change and its impacts on the Baltic Sea marine ecosystem over time. Therefore, sites with relevant long-term data records will be sustained, whilst accommodating improved data collection techniques where appropriate. National long-term data series should be integrated to this region-wide framework. This can enable assessment of the ability of the marine environment to cope, adapt to or recover from the effects climate changes.

Regarding major environmental changes and emerging issues, the coordinated HELCOM monitoring aims to detect major changes in the state of the environment and pressures on the environment by including long-term monitoring stations in the monitoring network. The coordinated monitoring is also associated with national or international surveys to detect and study emerging issues.

In 2014, several of the components outlined in the Strategy were not yet monitored in a coordinated way while it is the aim of Contracting Parties to achieve coordinated monitoring through ongoing HELCOM activities. There is e.g. still no dedicated HELCOM programmes on data/information collection for human activities. Information on human activities was however used to assess pressures on the Baltic Sea in the first HELCOM holistic assessment (BSEP 122) and it is the ambition to widen the ad hoc gathering of information on human activities into an established programme.

Spatial coverage

For the purposes of regional monitoring and assessments, the Baltic Sea is sub-divided into sub-basins as depicted in HELCOM sub-divisions of the Baltic Sea (Attachment 4, HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy). Different hierarchical sub-division levels can be used depending on the needs:

  • the whole Baltic Sea
  • dividing of the Baltic Sea into 17 sub-basins
  • further dividing each of the 17 sub-basins into coastal areas (extending to 1 NM seaward from the baseline) and off-shore area (waters beyond 1 NM seaward from the baseline)
  • further dividing the coastal areas into water bodies or types according to the WFD.
Other sub-divisions can be agreed and used provided they remain within the boundaries and use the nomenclature of the described hierarchical system. The scale of sub-division to be chosen may differ depending on the monitoring and assessment purpose.

To maximise their use for national purposes, regional monitoring and assessment results are also presented in formats (e.g. point/station maps) that allow displaying them within national boundaries (EEZ, 12 nm) and showing hot spots.

Transboundary impacts and features (Q3B)

HELCOM coordinated monitoring provides the basis for consideration of transboundary impacts, such as eutrophication, and the state of transboundary features such as mobile species. The different assessment scales and nested approach further allow considering features and impacts in a transboundary context at the relevant scale and adjusting monitoring activities/requirements to the needs of the assessment scale concerned.

Modeling complements monitoring in order to identify transboundary impacts and help directing targeted measures. Such an activity exists for nutrient fluxes in the context of transboundary eutrophication problems. Appropriate approaches for investigating into priority transboundary impacts and features (through monitoring, modeling, one-off studies, etc.) will need to be addressed in the framework of the continued implementation of the HELCOM monitoring and assessment system.


4. Contracting parties commitments

The Monitoring and Assessment Strategy sets out the basis for how the HELCOM Contracting Parties commit themselves to design and carry out their national monitoring programmes and work together to produce and update joint assessments.

Indicators and assessment

The HELCOM coordinated monitoring programme is driven by assessment needs arising from the BSAP and the MSFD as well as the production of regional HELCOM assessment products (Attachment 3, HELCOM Assessment System of the Monitoring and Assessment Strategy). These assessment needs are intended to be mainly covered through the HELCOM core indicators, which are subject to continued development. HELCOM coordinated monitoring also covers additional parameters and information e.g. relating to climate change. The Contracting Parties' monitoring commitment is associated with the different types of HELCOM indicators and parameters (for a detailed description see Annex 1, Glossary of terms):

  • Core indicators are commonly agreed among the HELCOM Contracting Parties and measure the progress towards BSAP goals and/or MSFD descriptors. Parameters required for the core indicators are monitored in a coordinated way on a routine basis. Whenever ecologically relevant, monitoring is done Baltic-wide.
  • Pre-core indicators have been identified as required for the BSAP/MSFD purposes, but are still not fully developed and/or there is no common agreement among the HELCOM Contracting Parties. Contracting Parties should aim to monitor the relevant parameters for the pre-core indicators in order to support their operationalization and to prepare for their future monitoring.
  • Supplementary indicators are only applied in a limited area, such as a sub-basin, and are commonly agreed among the countries in that area. Parameters required in the supplementary indicator are monitored in a coordinated way on routine basis by the Contracting Parties in the relevant area.
  • Supporting parameters are commonly agreed complementing parameters to core indicator information, but do not measure progress towards a BSAP objective and/or a MSFD descriptor. They are monitored in a coordinated way and provide supplementary information to the core indicators.

Additional parameters relevant for periodic regional assessments can be monitored or investigated by individual Contracting Parties or groups of Contracting Parties in a project- or campaign-like manner. These investigations include e.g. baseline studies, screening studies, process studies and tests of new methods and techniques.

Coordinated monitoring

HELCOM monitoring programmes are considered 'coordinated' when the following requirements are established:

  • common technical guidelines
  • common quality assurance tools
  • agreed data submission and data management arrangements.

HELCOM joint coordinated monitoring and preparation of the various assessment products require that the Contracting Parties allocate adequate resources and commit to agreed schedules of activities. This includes ensuring that needed resources are available nationally, e.g. ships, laboratories, personnel, data management and analysis capacities and expertise.

The national monitoring is coordinated within and between Contracting Parties in order to use resources in an efficient way. Shared monitoring stations and activities, information and data are part of the coordinated monitoring. The aim is to use limited resources as efficiently as possible and to seek added value from HELCOM coordination and collaboration as a return to the Contracting Parties.

From the perspective of sub-basins, the main responsibilities for carrying out coordinated monitoring activities in the HELCOM area are as follows:

  • Northern Baltic Proper, Eastern Gotland Basin, Western Gotland Basin, Bornholm Basin, Arkona Basin: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Russia

  • Bothnian Bay, The Quark, Bothnian Sea, Åland Sea: Finland and Sweden

  • Gulf of Finland: Finland, Estonia and Russia

  • Gulf of Riga: Estonia and Latvia

  • Sound and Kattegat: Denmark and Sweden

  • Great Belt: Denmark

  • Kiel Bay and Mecklenburg Bay: Germany

  • Gdansk Basin: Poland and Russia

Apart from their main responsibilities, however, the Contracting Parties are encouraged to participate in coordinated monitoring in other regions of the Baltic Sea area whenever practicable.

The monitoring programmes are periodically reviewed. For the development of revised or new coordinated monitoring, the following initial requirements should be met:

  • development of a strategy that enables the endorsement to prepare new or revised monitoring programmes by appropriate HELCOM working groups,
  • identification of gaps in monitoring coverage that need to be filled,
  • joint planning of activities in space and time.


Data and reporting

Deadlines for reporting data from coordinated monitoring are presented in Table 1. They refer to reporting deadlines agreed in HELCOM COMBINE, MORS, PLC and for illegal oils spills (see section 5: HELCOM working structure in support of  regionally coordinated monitoring). For new sub-programmes deadlines for reporting have not yet been agreed .

HELCOM coordinated monitoring also embraces cruise cooperation. This section of the HELCOM Monitoring Manual is currently under development.  

Table 1. Deadlines for reporting data from coordinated monitoring.

Programme topic Sub-programme Deadline of reporting
data from previous years
Hydrography
 

​ ​
Water column hydrological characteristics May
Water column physical characteristics -
Ice -
Hydrochemistry

  ​
Water column chemical characteristics May
Nutrients May
Phytoplankton ​ Phytoplankton – Pigments May
Phytoplankton - Species composition, abundance and biomass May
Zooplankton

 
Zooplankton - Species composition, abundance and biomass May
Fish shellfish and fisheries

  ​ ​ ​ ​
Fish - Coastal fish -
Fish - Migratory fish DCF Data reported to DG MARE annually
Fish - Offshore fish

 
Data are available annually at different times for different surveys
Commercial shellfish DCF Data reported to DG MARE annually
Fisheries bycatch DCF Data reported to DG MARE annually
Birds

  ​ ​
Birds - Marine breeding birds abundance and distribution -
Birds - Marine bird health -
Birds - Marine wintering birds abundance and distribution -
Mammals ​ ​ Mammals - Seal abundance Not operational yet, annual reporting planned from 3/2015 onwards
Mammals - Health status -
Mammals - Harbor porpoise bundance -
Concentrations of contaminants ​ ​ Contaminants in water

Radioactive substances
30 October

1 September
Contaminants in sediment

Radioactive substances
1 September

1 September
Contaminants in biota

Radioactive substances
1 September

1 September
Inputs ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ Nutrient inputs from atmosphere

 
Modeling results approved at the EMEP steering group meetings in September (2 years in arrears)
Contaminant inputs from atmosphere

 
Modeling results approved at the EMEP steering group meetings in September (2 years in arrears)
Nutrient inputs from landbased sources

 
31 October

Modelled results reported 31 December.
Contaminant inputs from landbased sources 31 October
Nutrient inputs from seabased sources -
Contaminant inputs from seabased sources -
Acute pollution 15 February
Biological effects of contaminants

  ​
TBT /imposex -
Other biological effects monitoring to be developed -
Litter ​ Macrolitter characteristics and abundance/volume -
Litter microparticle abundance/volume -
Underwater noise   -
Non indigenous species   (See phytoplankton and Zooplankton)
Seabed habitat distribution and extent

  ​
Habitat-forming species and substrates -
Seabed habitat physical characteristics -
Species distribution and abundance / Benthic community ​ ​ Hardbottom Species -
Softbottom fauna -
Softbottom flora -

 

5. HELCOM working structure in support of regionally coordinated monitoring

The regional cooperation on monitoring is supported by the HELCOM working structure. There are two permanent working groups focusing on regional coordination and monitoring of the Baltic Sea: Gear and State & Conservation respectively.

Gear (Group for the Implementation of the Ecosystem Approach) steers the implementation of the HELCOM BSAP from a managerial point of view and is the responsible body for the regional coordination of the implementation of the MSFD. Gear also coordinates the implementation of the ecosystem approach across HELCOM's scientific-technical working groups.

State and Conservation (Working Group on the State of the Environment and Nature Conservation) oversees the technical development of monitoring programmes. The State and Conservation working group is responsible for developing, updating and maintaining the HELCOM monitoring in general. The group follows and co-operates with other international organizations dealing with relevant monitoring programmes.

In additional there are five long-lasting projects/expert groups under State and Conservation that address monitoring and sharing of information on seals, phytoplankton, zooplankton, coastal fish and radioactive substances:

  • HELCOM ZEN-QAI:  the group works on quality assurance and integration of zooplankton monitoring in the Baltic Sea and to assure data comparability and their effective usage.
  • HELCOM PEG: the phytoplankton expert group aims to ensure and maintain high quality standard of the international Baltic regional phytoplankton monitoring.
  • HELCOM Seal: the group develops among other things coordinated monitoring programmes for seals.
  • HELCOM FISH-PRO II: the group works on assessment and monitoring of coastal fish
  • HELCOM MORS: the group coordinates monitoring of radioactive substances and produces periodic assessments on radioactivity in the Baltic Sea.

The regional coordination and cooperation on monitoring that Gear, State and Conservation and its expert groups facilitate, are founded on the HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy.


6. Baltic Sea Action Plan and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

The implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is coordinated, including the monitoring and indicator based assessment systems.


BSAP Vision and Goals

The Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) is a programme to restore the good ecological status of the Baltic marine environment by 2021. It was adopted by the coastal states of the Baltic Sea and the EU in 2007 at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Krakow. It is supplemented by the Declarations of the Ministerial Meetings of 2010 in Moscow and 2013 in Copenhagen.

The BSAP provides a concrete basis for HELCOM work by incorporating the latest scientific knowledge and innovative management approaches into strategic policy implementation. It stimulates a goal-oriented multilateral cooperation around the Baltic Sea region.

The overarching vision of the BSAP is: a healthy Baltic Sea environment, with diverse biological components functioning in balance, resulting in a good ecological status and supporting a wide range of sustainable human economic and sustainable activities.

It is further based on a vision, four main goals, and a number of ecological objectives associated to the goals (Figure 2).


 

 

Figure 2. HELCOM Vision goals and objectives. (Click to enlarge)


MSFD GES and Descriptors

For those HELCOM Contracting Parties being also EU Member States, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008/56/EC) establishes a framework within which the EU Member States shall take the necessary measures to achieve or maintain good environmental status of the marine environment by the year 2020 at the latest (MSFD, Article 1).

The core definition of Good Environmental Status (GES) according to the MSFD is: an environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic conditions, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for uses and activities by current and future generations.

In Annex I of the MSFD there are eleven qualitative descriptors for determining good environmental status as summarized in Table 2.

 

Table 2. MSFD qualitative descriptors for determining good environmental status.

MSFD Descriptors ​ ​
1 Biological diversity Biological diversity is maintained. The quality and occurrence of habitats and the distribution and abundance of species are in line with prevailing physiographic, geographic and climatic conditions
2 Non-indigenous species Non-indigenous species introduced by human activities are at levels that do not adversely alter the ecosystems
3 Populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish Populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock
4 Marine food webs All elements of the marine food webs, to the extent that they are known, occur at normal abundance and diversity and levels capable of ensuring the long-term abundance of the species and the retention of their full reproductive capacity
5 Eutrophication Human-induced eutrophication is minimized, especially adverse effects thereof, such as losses in biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, harmful algae blooms and oxygen deficiency in bottom waters
6 Sea-floor integrity Sea-floor integrity is at a level that ensures that the structure and functions of the ecosystems are safeguarded and benthic ecosystems, in particular, are not adversely affected
7 Alteration of hydrographical conditions Permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect marine ecosystems
8 Contaminants Concentrations of contaminants are at levels not giving rise to pollution effects
9 Contaminants in fish and other seafood for human consumption Contaminants in fish and other seafood for human consumption do not exceed levels established by Community legislation or other relevant standards
10 Marine litter Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment
11 Energy Introduction of energy, including underwater noise, is at levels that do not adversely affect the marine environment

 

Relationship between the BSAP Goals and the MSFD Descriptors

On an overarching level, the BSAP can be considered by EU-Member States as the HELCOM contribution to the regionally coherent implementation of the MSFD in the Baltic Sea. Its vision and the MSFD definition of GES are comparable in their objectives while BSAP goals can be linked to the MSFD descriptors (Table 3). The MSFD GES descriptors however cover a wider definition of good environmental status than the BSAP goals and thus not all MSFD descriptors can be directly assigned to the BSAP goals. These are: D3 - Population of commercial fish and shellfish at safe biological levels; D7 - Hydrographical conditions; D10 - Properties and quantities of marine litter and D11 - Introduction of energy, including noise. Furthermore, the BSAP segment on Maritime Activities partly covers several MSFD descriptors.

 

Table 3. Link between BSAP goals and MSFD Descriptors.

BSAP goal MSFD Descriptor
Baltic Sea unaffected by eutrophication D5 Eutrophication
Baltic Sea life undisturbed by hazardous substances

D8 Concentrations of contaminants

D9 Contaminants in fish and shellfish

Favorable status of Baltic Sea biodiversity

D1 Biological diversity

D2 Non-indigenous species

D4 Marine food webs

D6 Sea-floor integrity

Maritime activities in the Baltic Sea carried out in an environmentally friendly way

D2 Non-indigenous species

D5 Eutrophication

D8 Concentrations of contaminants

D10 Marine litter

D11 Noise

 

The BSAP ecological objectives lack a counterpart in the MSFD structure; sometimes they are most closely linked to descriptors while sometimes they are more similar to detailed criteria outlined in the Commission decision on criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status of marine waters (2010/477/EU) (Figure 3). However, there is a broad degree of coherence between the objectives of the two instruments.

Finally, HELCOM core indicators can be linked to the GES criteria and methodological standards as outlined the Com decision (2010/477/EU). The specific links are described in the sub-programmes of the Monitoring Manual.


 

 

  Figure 3. Relationships between BSAP and MSFD.

 


 

Regional definition of GES and environmental targets

In the BSAP, the Contracting Parties to the Helsinki Convention agreed to periodically evaluate whether the goals of the Plan have been met by using indicator-based assessments.

Core indicators form the critical set of indicators which are needed to regularly assess the status of the Baltic Sea marine environment against a definition of GES and progress towards a set of environmental targets.

For core indicators that reflect the status of the environment, a tentative/preliminary quantitative boundary is required to distinguish between a state within GES and a state not meeting GES.

For core indicators that reflect pressures on the environment, tentative/preliminary quantitative target values are required to define the maximum level of pressure that is acceptable to achieve or maintain GES.

Quantitative GES-boundaries or targets are available for some but not for all core indicators. Their development is an ongoing process, depending on the maturity of the indicator concerned. In those cases, interim boundaries or proxies are used to provide a measurable expression of GES, based on the current best available knowledge.

 

7. HELCOM monitoring programmes (Q4D,4F)


Biodiversity - Birds

The aim of the programme is to provide data to assess the status, abundance, distribution and population structure of waterbirds in the Baltic. Waterbird monitoring can also give information on the state of the sea and of the benthic habitats.  The monitoring supports the HELCOM core indicators and corresponding MSFD GES criteria and methodological standards (indicators) for Descriptors 1 and 4.

There are two types of monitoring activities in the Baltic Sea region: monitoring of resting, migrating or moulting birds (wintering) and monitoring of breeding birds. For marine bird health monitoring is limited to the white-tailed eagle.

Monitoring of breeding birds varies between countries in relation to the species monitored, the start of the time series, and the temporal resolution of monitoring which ranges from annual monitoring to every third year depending on the species. Some countries have state financed monitoring programmes in place, while in some countries monitoring is carried out by volunteers.

All Baltic Sea countries have been carrying out ground-count-based coastal surveys for wintering birds with some time series starting as early as the 1960s. Most countries run these coastal counts as volunteer programmes. Offshore surveys using both ship and plane are also carried out in most countries.

Although national monitoring of breeding and wintering birds is taking place in almost all Baltic Sea countries either by the state or by volunteers, coordinated monitoring is still missing. Regionally coordinated guidelines and a database would be needed for the Baltic to ensure that methods and the data collected are comparable and could support HELCOM assessments and core indicators.

Programme topic: Birds


Biodiversity - Fish

The monitoring of coastal fish is carried out by national programmes and collated through HELCOM, specifically under the HELCOM FISH-PRO II project. The monitoring provides data on the relative abundance/biomass and species composition of the coastal fish community and supports the HELCOM core indicators and corresponding MSFD GES criteria and methodological standards (indicators) for Descriptor 1. Some of these fish are of freshwater origin, thus the populations are more local and respond more locally to environmental conditions compared to typical offshore fish that generally migrate over larger distances with populations spanning larger spatial scales. The current coastal fish monitoring as coordinated by HELCOM represents a minimum requirement and there are substantial geographical gaps.

Regarding migratory fish, national programmes focus on sea trout, salmon, eel and sturgeon and they are coordinated by ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea). Full scale monitoring in rivers is only carried out in Finland and Sweden whereas the spatial-temporal coverage of catch sampling from sea may need to be increased. The monitoring supports HELCOM core indicators and corresponding MSFD GES criteria and methodological standards (indicators) for Descriptors 1 and 4.

The monitoring of offshore fish includes stocks that are regulated by TACs (total allowable catch) and country wise quotas and are exploited by large commercial fisheries. The monitoring is coordinated by ICES. The main commercial shellfish populations in the HELCOM region currently monitored are predominant in the western part of the region.

Programme topic: Fish, shellfish and fisheries


Biodiversity - Mammals

The aim of the programme is to provide data to assess the status, abundance, trends, distribution and health of marine mammal species native to the Baltic Sea. The monitoring supports the HELCOM core indicators and corresponding MSFD GES criteria and methodological standards (indicators) for Descriptors 1 and 4.

The abundance and distribution of the three seal species native to the Baltic Sea - grey seal, harbour seal and ringed seal – are monitored by Finland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Estonia at their haul-out locations by aerial, ship-based and land-based methods.

The health status is currently monitored by investigations on stranded, by-caught and hunted animals.

A permanent or long-term programme for internationally coordinated monitoring of harbour porpoise abundance in the Baltic Sea does currently not exist. Ship-based line transect surveys for the management unit in the Belt Sea (in Danish, German and Swedish sea areas) are scheduled to be performed every six years under national Danish monitoring efforts.

Marine mammal monitoring is being coordinated by the HELCOM Seal group especially regarding abundance and distribution of seals and health status of marine mammals. Common guidelines still need to be adopted to ensure common methods in monitoring. There is also no common database at present.

Programme topic: Mammals


Biodiversity - Water column habitats

The monitoring programme for pelagic habitats is regionally coordinated and measures:

  • Concentrations of nutrients and oxygen (under the programme topic hydrochemistry), chlorophyll-a (under the programme topic phytoplankton) as well as Secchi depth (under the programme topic hydrography). This monitoring supports the HELCOM core indicators and corresponding MSFD GES criteria and methodological standards (indicators) for Descriptor 5 for the assessment of the eutrophication status and the effectiveness of measures (nutrient concentrations).
  • Information on salinity, temperature, turbidity and ice (under the programme topic hydrography) as well as pH and CO2 (under the programme topic hydrochemistry) required in Annex III MSFD. This monitoring supports MSFD criteria of Descriptor 7.
  • Abundance and biomass of phytoplankton and zooplankton species. This monitoring supports the HELCOM core indicators and corresponding MSFD criteria and methodological standards (indicators) of Descriptors 1, 2, 4 and 5.

For some parameters and basins monitoring frequencies need to be increased and methods need to be harmonized. Work is under way to improve the spatial and temporal coverage of the monitoring programme by using earth observation data and data from automated measuring devices (ferryboxes and/or ships of opportunity).

Programme topics: Hydrography, HydrochemistryPhytoplankton, Zooplankton


Biodiversity - Seabed habitats

Monitoring of phytobenthos and soft-bottom fauna exists in all Baltic Sea countries and is partly covered by HELCOM coordinated monitoring. Monitoring of phytobenthos focuses on depth distribution, composition and coverage of benthic plant species. The monitoring potentially supports MSFD criteria and methodological standards (indicators) for Descriptor 1 and 5. Monitoring of soft-bottom fauna measures species composition, abundance and biomass and supports HELCOM core indicators and MSFD criteria and methodological standards (indicators) for Descriptor 1 and 6.

Currently there is no monitoring in place which targets seabed habitat distribution and hard-bottom fauna is monitored only in a few countries in the Baltic Sea (e.g. Finland). The “drop-video” technique in combination with traditional methods used for characterising benthic communities (grab sampling, SCUBA diving) could be a promising, cost-effective solution at least for certain habitats. Joint and standardized methods in the Baltic Sea area need to be agreed in HELCOM.

Programme topics: Seabed habitat distribution and extent, Benthic community species distribution and abundance


 

Non-indigenous species

Ongoing monitoring approaches

Non-indigenous species (NIS) monitoring is to address all biotic components as NIS may belong to any trophic level and be found in various man-made as well as natural habitats. NIS data is needed to update HELCOM core indicator and to report for EU MSFD, EU IAS regulation, for those HELCOM countries being EU members, and to fulfil the data needs for exemptions applied from the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC). There is currently no coordinated monitoring specifically targeting NIS in the Baltic Sea. Some observations (e.g. plankton and soft bottom macrofauna species) are obtained through the HELCOM biological monitoring programme, which initially was not targeted on NIS but many new species are found during scientific projects. The well-established COMBINE monitoring system, which has comprehensive quality control system, is currently used for records of presence-absence of NIS in a given area in the taxonomic groups covered by the programme. However, while the HELCOM joint programme itself is far from sufficient both temporally and spatially (fixed sampling stations) to obtain the required information on NIS, there are certainly several elements which are very useful to exploit in NIS monitoring purposes.

In addition to joint monitoring programme, HELCOM coastal fish gill-net monitoring and BITS surveys provide information on NIS presence-absence, spread and abundance/biomass. During such surveys, non-indigenous fish and mobile epifauna (e.g. crabs) can be caught and such records should be made available for the national authority responsible for managing NIS records.

The only targeted method to monitor NIS is the HELCOM/OSPAR Port survey protocol, which provides information on NIS found in ports to support decisions on granting exemptions (HELCOM, 2015). Such a protocol is part of the "Joint HELCOM/OSPAR Guidelines on the granting of exemptions under the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, Regulation A-4" adopted by HELCOM and OSPAR Contracting Parties in 2013. The protocol has been tested in several ports around the Baltic Sea, is regularly updated and ready for routine use. Information obtained during port surveys (available on-line) should also be used to complete NIS assessments for HELCOM and the MSFD (D2) reporting purposes for those HELCOM countries being EU members.

A centralized database is the key element of the integrated NIS monitoring system. Thus AquaNIS (the Information system on Aquatic Non-Indigenous and Cryptogenic Species) database complemented by data from coordinated monitoring has been agreed to, for the time being, be the data source for the HELCOM holistic assessments. AquaNIS goal has been to meet the requirements for assembling, storing and disseminating data compiled from various monitoring programmes and to cover the most up-do-date and free-access information/data on NIS introduction events within the Baltic Sea, neighbouring regions (e.g. the North Sea) and other regions of the world." Suitable, additional monitoring approaches

A variety of targeted approaches and methods have been and are being developed, which may be used for NIS monitoring. These include rapid assessment surveys, monitoring of Marine Protected Areas, molecular methods, automated image analysis, public involvement (citizen science) and environmental impact assessments. However, as none of these covers all groups of organisms or habitats none of them can provide full set of data. Thus, these approaches should be considered as additional parts of the NIS monitoring.

Rapid assessment survey

A rapid assessment survey (RAS) is a method to detect species that can be recognized in the wild from conspicuous morphological characteristics and whose abundance and distribution can be determined for a particular area. RAS may be part of a regular monitoring program and may also be activated following a particular NIS event, e.g. a report of a NIS finding, requiring confirmation for management actions to take place. Target lists of NIS reduce sampling effort, over full inventories of biota present, and are more relevant for a swift management response. One approach to select NIS for a RAS is to follow IMO (2007) definition of target species: "…Species identified by a Party that meet specific criteria indicating that they may impair or damage the environment, human health, property or resources and are defined for a specific port, State or biogeographic region…". However, not all NIS may be easily recognized in the field and further systematic examination in laboratory may be required. This, in turn, may essentially increase time needed to obtain RAS results.

eRAS monitoring of NIS, as one method in a larger framework of methods for monitoring of NIS was endorsed for publication in the HELCOM Monitoring Manual by State & Conservation 6-2017 (Outcome of State & Conservation 6-2017, para 5J.3). It is not limited to target species but includes specific habitats in hotspot areas for NIS introduction e.g. ports, marinas, aquaculture spots, artificial hard substrates. eRAS may be arranged simultaneously by several countries within the Baltic Sea, in the same way as it is done for fishery surveys (e.g. ICES, 2014). The RAS method is cost-efficient and may provide timely information for managers and policy-advisers focusing on particular NIS  at particular localities.

Monitoring of Marine Protected Areas

A Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) observation program has been successfully used to identify occurrences of NIS around the UK coast. This approach could be useful in the Baltic Sea region as well. In UK a standard list of NIS was compiled against which, infauna and epifaunal data records from the MPAs were compared and reported to the appropriate national authorities. Within MPAs monitoring programmes a series of conventional and novel methods of surveillance are likely to become part of a protocol, and their potential use for detection of NIS should be considered.

Molecular methods

Molecular methods are rapidly evolving which may become established within monitoring protocols. Such methods will be helpful in multiple purposes: early detection, determining marine NIS identities, determining source and routes of invasions, and the genetic make-up of founding populations. Molecular methods can also be used for the rapid identification of cholera bacteria (relevant for e.g. BWMC exemption surveys in ports) and several NIS can be identified even from genetic profiles within water, eDNA. Molecular methods are particularly useful for NIS detection at early life-history stages (due to difficulties in their identifications), at initial stages of invasions, and when occurring at low densities.

Automated image analysis

Another rapidly developing approach is automated systems, which may pick up unfamiliar biological shapes. Such in-situ continuous monitoring capacity initially images aliquots of sea water and rejects images of low-risk objects. A managed web-based image database may be developed that acts as a repository for images of identified NIS, together with metadata reflecting the scale of the object, its location, depth and date of image collection, and collector. Currently, these methods may be used for abundance estimates of already known NIS in the sample which are identifiable by automatic image analysis.

Public involvement

Public involvement can aid in detection of NIS. Divers, anglers, leisure craft users, students and schoolchildren help to track the spread of NIS. Volunteers (citizen scientists) may look for a restricted number of species, and the data can be used to identify range expansions. Partnerships with the aquaculture, fisheries and leisure craft industries may enable early detection of NIS arrivals. The advent of electronic communication facilitates the usage of online websites in reporting NIS observations. Websites also aid in providing up-to-date information on identification, distribution and means of preventing further spread. Public involvement increases general awareness on the NIS problem and may therefore help in preventing further intentional introductions. In Finland, public observations are used already to gather information on NIS findings (www.vieraslajit.fi). For marine species, these are verified by experts and used for e.g. EU reporting.

Monitoring mobile epifauna

There is no monitoring programme for mobile epifauna. There are however suitable methods (baited traps and habitat traps) in the Port survey protocol which should be applied also in natural habitats in all countries as there are currently two highly invasive crab species in the Baltic Sea.

Monitoring the spatial spread

To be able for HELCOM countries being EU members to meet the requirements of the most recent amendment of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2017/845/EU) and the Commission Decision on criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status of marine waters (2017/848/EC), spatial spread of NIS needs to be monitored. As HELCOM monitoring programme is relying on sampling at fixed stations, a taxon-specific approach needs to be taken in order to obtain information on presently spreading NIS. Also, underwater habitat surveys, which are being conducted in many Baltic Sea countries, may provide information on the spread of conspicuous NIS such as mobile epifauna (e.g. crabs) and habitat engineers, e.g. zebra mussels. Unmanned and preprogrammed underwater vehicles may make video surveys on extensive areas of seabed at comparatively low overall cost.

The fixed station approach could be refined by using a risk-based approach focusing on potential hotspots with varying temporal intensity. This would facilitate early detection and to identify pathways in order to meet the demands from the IAS regulation.

Environmental impacts

Monitoring data obtained with the above described approaches is useful also for the assessment of environmental impacts of NIS for prioritizing management options, developing of target list of NIS and reporting for several legislative acts.

Programme topic: ​Non-indigenous species


Eutrophication

The existing HELCOM and WFD procedures have been successfully applied to assess the eutrophication status for marine and coastal waters. Eutrophication is a main pressure acting on the marine environment throughout the Baltic Sea region. Monitoring and assessment apply Baltic-wide. The monitoring programme is regionally coordinated and measures:

  • Concentrations of nutrients and direct and indirect effects of nutrient enrichment in the marine environment: concentrations of chlorophyll-a (under the programme topic phytoplankton) and oxygen (under the programme topic hydrochemistry), transparency (under the programme topic hydrography) and biological metrics relating to phytoplankton (under the programme topic phytoplankton), macrophytobenthos and macrozoobenthos (under the programme topic benthic community species distribution and abundance).

    This monitoring supports the HELCOM core indicators and corresponding MSFD GES criteria methodological standards (indicators) for Descriptor 5 for the assessment of the eutrophication status, trends in pressures (nutrient concentrations) and impacts (indicators for direct and indirect effects) and the effectiveness of measures (nutrient concentrations). The measurements also provide information on physical and chemical characteristics of seawater (salinity, temperature, pH and distribution of nutrients and oxygen) and biological features (phytoplankton, angiosperms, macro-algae, invertebrate bottom fauna) required in Annex III MSFD.
  • Inputs via rivers and direct discharges from land-based sources. It also collects model-based data on atmospheric inputs of nutrients to the sea. The monitoring supports the HELCOM BSAP nutrient reduction targets and corresponding national MSFD environmental targets, source-apportionments to help directing measures, and the assessment of the effectiveness of measures. The monitoring contributes information required under Annex III MSFD on pressures and impacts (inputs of fertilizers and other nitrogen and phosphorus-rich substances).

For some parameters and sea-basins, monitoring frequencies need to be increased and methods need to be harmonized. Work is under way to improve the spatial and temporal coverage of the monitoring programme by using earth observation data and data from automated measuring devices (ferryboxes and/or ships of opportunity).

Programme topics: Inputs, Hydrography, Hydrochemistry, Phytoplankton


Hydrographic changes

The monitoring programme on hydrographic changes compiles the available monitoring data on the abiotic marine environment. In the marine environment both the seafloor and the watermasses above are dynamic, constantly changing systems. The compiled monitoring information on hydrographic changes in the programme, forms a framework relevant for assessments of many other monitoring programmes tracking changes in biotic systems.

Programme topics: Hydrography, Seabed Habitat Distribution and Extent


Contaminants

The aim of the monitoring programme is to provide data to assess the state regarding contamination in the Baltic Sea as well as to identify pressures and impacts leading to the contamination. This is done through a combination of measurement and modelling.

Concentrations of contaminants are monitored in water, sediment and biota. Monitoring covers heavy metals, organic substances and radionuclides and supports the HELCOM core indicators and corresponding MSFD GES criteria and methodological standards (indicators) for Descriptor 8 and 9.

Contaminants are measured in selected species of biota from different geographical regions of the Baltic Sea in order to detect possible contamination patterns, including areas of special concern. Contaminants are also measured in biota at specific locations over time in order to detect whether levels are changing, also in response to the changes in inputs of contaminants to the Baltic Sea.

The programme covers all core indicators for concentrations of contaminants, but not in all matrices and areas. Identified gaps include the lack of monitoring of certain contaminants in biota on the eastern coast (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia). Furthermore the monitoring of contaminants in blue mussels and perch in the smaller sub-basins makes the assessment spatially limited.

Atmospheric inputs of metals and dioxins/furans to the Baltic Sea are modelled using estimated emission data. The Contracting Parties take measurements of atmospheric deposition on land and this data is used to calibrate the models.

Waterborne inputs of (heavy) metals from land-based sources to the Baltic Sea are calculated using measured data from the monitored rivers and MWWTPs in Baltic Sea catchment (300 monitored rivers and 23 unmonitored areas).

Furthermore, as a measure of acute pollution, the number of oil discharges observed in the Baltic Sea is reported. In the future also discharges of other substances could be included.

The only biological effect so far included in the Monitoring Programme on hazardous substances is the monitoring of imposex in snails as a result of TBT-exposure in support of the HELCOM core indicator.

Programme topics: Inputs, Concentration of contaminants, Biological effects of contaminants


Contaminants in seafood

Currently there is no monitoring programme for contaminants in seafood. However, monitoring of contaminants in biota has been conducted in HELCOM monitoring programmes, which also include species that are used for food consumption. There are European regulations for sampling and analyzing contaminants in food. Sampling arrangements within countries may differ, e.g. size range for seafood sampling may differ from environmental monitoring. The analyzed matrix, analysis methods and quality standards used for food consumption analyses are not identical to environmental quality standards.

Programme topics: Contaminants in seafood​


Litter

Currently, there are no HELCOM indicators, assessment procedures or coordinated monitoring in place in relation to the amount and composition of marine litter on beaches, on the seafloor, in the water column and regarding the impact of litter on marine organisms. Some countries carry out beach litter surveys, and use information from fishing for litter projects to gain information on the presence of litter in the marine environment.

In the MSFD CIS framework, the EU Task Group Marine Litter has developed recommendations for monitoring which will provide a basis for the development of coordinated monitoring in the Region. Various studies are under way in the Baltic Sea region to provide baseline information and test methods with a view to determining options for developing cost-efficient monitoring programmes. 

Programme topics: Litter​


Noise

Noise is a new topic for the HELCOM community and core indicators are currently under development to assess impulsive and ambient noise levels. The aim of the monitoring programme is to provide data and assessments on the status of the marine environment. The monitoring programme is of relevance to both the biodiversity and maritime traffic segments of HELCOM work.

The current development work on noise monitoring in HELCOM builds on results from the Technical Sub Group Noise that was established in the MSFD-GES framework. Research projects on optimal monitoring methodologies are currently underway in the Baltic Sea area.

Programme topics: Underwater noise​


 

8. Annexes

Annex 1 - Glossary of terms (interim)

Definitions and interpretations of the terms relating to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive are agreed in the EU MSFD Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) process. The common understanding of the terminology used in the MSFD context is under review and revision in 2014/2015. In addition the following references have been used:

[1] Common Understanding of (Initial) Assessment, Determination of Good Environmental Status (GES) & Establishment of Environmental Targets (Articles 8, 9 & 10 MSFD), Status: 22.11.2011

[2] Annex 3 of the Outcome of HELCOM MONAS 18-2013. "Rev" indicates that the definitions have been revised after MONAS-18.

[3] Reporting package for MSFD Article 11 on monitoring programmes. MSCG 12/2014/02rev1.

The glossary will be updated to reflect changes in these reference documents as needed.

Biotope

A habitat and its associated community.

Characteristics

  1. Ecosystem components (physical and chemical features, habitat types, biological features and other features) relevant for analysing the environmental state as described in Annex III, Table 1 MSFD [1].
  2. Elements describing GES as set out in Art. 9(1) MSFD (characteristics of GES) [1].
  3. The "indicators" associated to the criteria outlined in Commission decision (2010/477/EU) [3].

Core indicators

Core indicators are commonly agreed indicators among the HELCOM Contracting Parties. A core indicator measures the progress towards a BSAP objective and/or an MSFD criteria. A core indicator describes a scientifically sound phenomenon and is based on measurements, observations or validated models. Core indicators are Baltic wide whenever ecologically relevant, and the area of applicability is expressed through HELCOM assessment units.

Core indicators are either state- or pressure indicators. Pressure core indicators measure an anthropogenic pressure directly, and measure the progress towards an environmental target. State core indicators measure the progress towards a GES-boundary. The environmental target and/or the GES-boundary are described in detail in an operational core indicator, as well as the assessment methods and rationale. State core indicators are indirectly linked to anthropogenic pressures, and the link is described either qualitatively or quantitatively as appropriate.

Operational core indicators are to be regularly updated by the Contracting Parties through agreed long-term data handling arrangements and the updated results are published on the HELCOM webpage. The aim is that the parameters required for the core indicators are monitored by all Contracting Parties when ecologically relevant through HELCOM coordinated monitoring that will be described in the HELCOM Monitoring Manual. [2 rev]

GES criteria/criterion

According to the definitions in Art. 3(6) MSFD, "criteria" mean "distinctive technical features that are closely linked to qualitative descriptors". Specific criteria are listed for each GES Descriptor in Part B of Annex 2 in COM Decision 2010/477/EU. For this reason GES criteria refer to those aspects which are to be assessed, through the application of appropriate indicators, to determine whether GES is being achieved [1].

Descriptor

Annex I MSFD provides a list of eleven qualitative 'Descriptors' which constitute the basis for the assessment of GES, and provide a further refinement of aspects of the definition of GES in Art. 3(5) MSFD. These descriptors are substantiated and further specified in the COM Decision 2010/477/EU through a set of 29 criteria and 56 proposed indicators (see also characteristics) [1].

Ecosystem component

Ecosystem components comprise abiotic and biotic components of the marine environment, including those described in MSFD Annex III, Table 1. Abiotic components include non-living physical, hydrological and chemical factors. Biotic components include species, functional groups and habitat types [1].

Environmental Target

In the HELCOM Monitoring Manual, the term environmental target reflects the level of sustainable pressure on (or use of resources from) the marine environment. The marine environment is assumed not to be negatively affected by the pressure when the pressure remains below the environmental target, indicating that good environmental status is reached. Article 10 of the MSFD requires that 'Environmental targets' and associated indicators are established to guide progress towards achieving good environmental status in the marine environment. The environmental targets should take into account the indicative lists of pressures and impacts set out in Table 2 of Annex III of the MSFD.

In HELCOM, environmental targets have been agreed for input of nutrients; Maximum Allowable nutrient Inputs (MAI) and Country Allocation of Reduction Targets (CART). For the most recent agreement see HELCOM 2013 Ministerial Meeting.

Functional groups of species

As a way of simplifying and categorizing biodiversity, species can be assigned to functional groups. Such groups comprise species with similar structural and functional characteristics, such as how they acquire their nutrients, their state of mobility or their mode of feeding.

Each functional group represents a predominant ecological role (e.g. offshore surface-feeding birds, demersal fish) within the marine environment or within a habitat. For MSFD purposes, the term is particularly applied to birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and cephalopods to provide focus for the assessment of status of these often highly mobile or widely-dispersed species groups. The term is also useful in the context of assessing communities' condition (in the water column or seabed) through assessment of the range of functional groups present. [1]

Good Environmental Status

For the purposes of the MSFD, good environmental status (GES) is defined in Art. 3(5) MSFD as "the environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic conditions, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for uses and activities by current and future generations." For GES a set of characteristics is to be determined on the basis of the qualitative descriptors listed in Annex I MSFD (Art. 9(1) MSFD). COM Decision 2010/477/EU provides the criteria and methodological standards to be used for determining GES (Art. 9(3) MSFD).

For the purposes of the HELCOM BSAP, good environmental status is defined as the vision of "a healthy Baltic Sea environment, with diverse biological components functioning in balance, resulting in a good ecological status and supporting a wide range of sustainable human economic and sustainable activities."

In HELCOM, GES is expressed in quantitative terms for each indicator, e.g.  as a threshold value or a range of values that have been identified as representative of GES based on a scientific analysis of data that underpin the specific indicator. The determination is based on the Descriptors and criteria laid down in Annex I MSFD and in COM Decision 2010/477/EU and the visions, goals and ecological objectives of the Baltic Sea Action Plan (HELCOM 2007).

Habitat

The physical and environmental conditions (e.g. the seabed substratum and associated hydrological and chemical condition) that support a particular biological community or communities (Cochrane et al. 2010).

Hydrographical conditions

Hydrographical conditions refer to the depth, tidal, current and wave characteristics of marine waters, including the topography and morphology of the seabed [1].

Hydrological processes

Hydrological processes refer to the movement, distribution and quality of water. Interference with hydrological processes can encompass changes in the thermal or salinity regime, in the tidal regime, in sediment and freshwater transport, in current or wave action and in turbidity.

Hydrographical conditions can be influenced by (changing) hydrological processes [1].

Impact

An impact is the environmental effect of a pressure resulting from human activities. It is an alteration, whether permanent or temporary, in a physical, chemical or biological aspect of the environment that is considered undesirable [1].

Indicators that reflect the state of the environment inevitably also reflect the impact of pressures and human activities.

Parameter

A parameter is a measureable single characteristic e.g. number of individuals, biomass in g/dry weight, sediment particle diameter size in mm, concentration of nutrients in µg/l etc. An indicator can be based on single or multiple parameters.

Pre-core indicator (HELCOM)

Pre-core indicators have been identified as necessary by the HELCOM Contracting Parties for BSAP and MSFD purposes. The indicator has not been adopted as a core indicator e.g. because some aspects of the indicator may be under-developed and/or agreement on the indicator among the CP's may be intermediate. The Contracting Parties should aim to monitor the parameters relevant for the pre-core indicator, with the understanding that the pre-core indicators can be based on compilations of data from sources other than coordinated HELCOM monitoring data [2 rev].

Pressure

Pressures describe the causative anthropogenic factors behind environmental changes. Pressure indicators measure the magnitude of anthropogenic influence and the degree of resource use e.g. input of nutrients, introduction of non-indigenous species through shipping activities, or size of catches of fish in the fisheries.

Pressure core indicators are used to assess the progress towards reaching environmental targets.

State/status

The word 'state', as used in the context of the MSFD, refers to the quality/condition of specific aspects of the environment, such as ecosystem components. This can be determined through measurements in the environment of relevant parameters for such components; such measurements, by definition, will reflect any impacts (individual and cumulative) to which the component has been subjected.

The word 'status', as used in the context of Good Environmental Status or Environmental Quality Status, draws together the determination of the 'state' of individual ecosystem components, typically through use of particular criteria, threshold values and indicators, to assign a 'status' classification (e.g. at GES, below GES).

State core indicators are used to assess progress toward reaching GES.  [1 rev]

Supplementary indicator (HELCOM)

Supplementary indicators are applied in a limited area, such as a sub-basin, and are commonly agreed among the countries in that area. A supplementary indicator measures the progress towards GES or an environmental target. An indicator can be defined as a supplementary indicator and not a core indicator, for reasons such as resource limitation and not due to ecological reasons. Calibration of GES boundaries between the countries should ensure the applicability of these supplementary indicators also in common HELCOM integrated assessments.

For reasons of competence and/or resources not all Contracting Parties will be required to carry out all measurements but all measurements will need to be covered on a work-sharing basis. [2 rev]

Supporting parameters (HELCOM)

Supporting parameters are commonly agreed complementing parameters to core indicator information, but do not measure the progress towards a BSAP objective and/or a MSFD descriptor. Supporting parameters are included in the coordinated monitoring programme and updated regularly. The structure of a supporting parameter is not as strictly defined as that of a core indicator and a supporting parameter does not measure progress towards GES or an environmental target. The commonly agreed HELCOM Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets are supporting parameters. [2 rev].


 

Annex 2: Questions for the reporting of monitoring programmes under MSFD

All lists mentioned in some questions can be retrieved from the original reporting document.

1a Overall adequacy

Do the monitoring programmes as a whole constitute an appropriate framework to meet the requirements of the MSFD?

Yes/No

Question 1 is focused on the overall coverage of the 2014 monitoring programmes and the identification of any gaps. Reporting on coverage is done against each of the descriptors and criteria of GES, against the environmental targets defined by the Member State, and against the elements of MSFD Annex III. Responses need to indicate whether the element is already addressed in the 2014 programmes or whether it still needs to be addressed or is not relevant. If some elements are not yet covered, plans to fill the gaps reported should be included in the final section of Question 1.

Note: any gaps in the programmes may be easier to identify at the end of the 'report', i.e. once what is to be addressed by each of the monitoring programmes has been documented. Since each programme will address different aspects of GES, targets and Annex III elements, it is recommended to go through them all at the end to identify if anything has been left out by mistake.

1b Gaps: GES descriptors and criteria (art. 9)

Which GES descriptors and criteria relevant for your marine waters (as included in your Member State report for Art. 9) are not yet adequately covered by your Monitoring Programmes?

For each Descriptor and Criterion indicate one of the following:
a.    It is adequately covered in your 2014 monitoring programmes;
b.    It will be addressed:

  • In time for the next assessment due in 2018
  • In time for the updating of monitoring programmes due on 2020
  • Later than 2020

c.    It is not relevant

It is for the Member State to define which GES criteria are relevant to monitor for each Descriptor, and to assess if its programmes are adequate for each relevant criterion. There is no need to address each indicator of the GES Decision.
If the Member State has identified gaps that will be addressed after 2014, it has already concluded the programmes are not yet adequate for the particular criterion.

1c Gaps: targets (art. 10)

Which targets and associated indicators for your marine waters (as included in your Member State report for Art. 10) are not yet adequately covered by your Monitoring Programmes?

For each target, indicate one of the following: (see 1b)

See guidance for Q1b.
Only the targets which were reported in 2012 under Article 10 are available to the Member State to list here.

If monitoring of targets reported under Article 10 is indicated as 'not relevant' in this question, provide a suitable reason under Q1e.

1d Gaps: Annex III elements (art 8)

Which elements from MSFD Annex III relevant for your marine waters (as reported in your Member State report for Art. 8) are not yet adequately covered by your Monitoring Programmes?

For each target, indicate one of the following: (see 1b)

See guidance for Q1b.
For Habitats the list is not based on previous reporting – all predominant habitat types are listed and can be ticked if relevant.

For pressures, the term list used for 2012 reporting is provided. Each pressure 'theme' has the specific categories related to Table 2 of MSFD Annex III (e.g. Physical disturbance – noise) and a general category for use if needed.

1e Gaps and plans

Explain the gaps and describe your plans to complete coverage.

Provide justification for not including specific GES criteria, environmental targets and Annex III characteristics in your monitoring programmes which you have reported under Art. 8, 9 and 10 as being relevant to your Member State waters (e.g. based on risk assessment)

If responses to Q1b, 1c and 1d all indicate that the monitoring programmes are fully in place by 2014, there is no need to report on gaps and plans here.

In cases where you have reported under Articles 8, 9 and 10 that particular GES criteria, targets and Annex III elements are relevant to your Member State waters, but you have indicated ‘Not relevant’ under Q1b, 1c or 1d, provide a justification as to why they are not included in your monitoring programmes.

2a Public consultation dates

Public consultation dates: From: DD/MM/YYYY To: DD/MM/YYYY

Question 2 records the details of the Public consultation required under MSFD Article 19(2c) on the establishment of the monitoring programme

2b Public consultation descriptions

Describe the public consultation process

Provide URL web link to the consultation.

Member States can simply provide a web link to its public consultation, but if it wishes it can also describe how it has done the consultation. If a paper report is being submitted and it contains a section on the consultation, this should be referred to here.
Member States always have the possibility to upload any documents they wish in support of their electronic reports.

3a Regional cooperation

Where can additional information be found on your regional cooperation on monitoring programmes (if information is additional to that already provided under article 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10)?
Describe issues on cooperation that have not been reported before (under Art. 7 or Art. 8, 9 and 10), such as consistency in methodology.

Provide URL web link or section in paper report

Question 3 is for additional information that is required but not applicable at the monitoring programme or sub-programme level.

3b Transboundary impacts and features

Where can additional information be found on your consideration of transboundary impacts and features in monitoring programmes (Article 11.2b)?

Provide URL web link or section in paper report

3c Major environmental changes and emerging issues

Where can additional information be found on the ability of the monitoring programmes to identify major changes in the environment (Annex V.11) and on the ability of the monitoring programmes to identify new and emerging issues (Annex V.11)?

Provide URL web link or section in paper report

3d Source of contaminants in seafood

Where can additional information be found on chemical contaminants in species for human consumption linked to commercial fishing areas (Annex V.5)?

Provide URL web link or section in paper report or reference the relevant sub-programme for Descriptor 9.

This may also be addressed under Descriptor 9 at the sub-programme level, in which case a reference to that sub-programme should be made here.

3e Access and use rights

Where can additional information be found on how you intend to provide access and use rights in respect of data and information from the monitoring programmes (Article 19 (3)), including:
- the type of data
- method/mechanism used to make it available
- use rights for EC/EEA
- INSPIRE standards used
- when the data will first be available
- frequency of update of the data.

Provide URL web link or section in paper report.

4a Responsible Competent Authority

Name of a Competent Authority which is responsible for the monitoring programmes and who will act as a contact point for the Commission.

Name of Competent Authority (select from CAs reported under Art. 7)

Reporting under MSFD Art. 7 in 2011 required the formally-appointed Competent Authorities to be identified. Question 4a is to identify which one of these has overall responsibility for implementation of the monitoring programmes. In cases where several Competent Authorities share equally this responsibility, give one of these who will act as the contact point, if needed, for the Commission.
Note that the Competent Authority may differ from the organisation(s) that actually undertake the monitoring, such as research institutes or consultants. This can be indicated in Q4b.

4b Responsible organisation

Optional: If the delivery of the monitoring programmes is delegated to other organisations, these can also be listed.

Name(s) of responsible organisations.

Some Member States typically have their monitoring undertaken or managed by other organisations, either delegated to government institutes and research establishments or contracted out. Additionally some of the monitoring may be undertaken by or through industry operators in agreement with the CA. In these cases, the Member State can (optionally) provide details of which organisations are actually undertaking the monitoring in Q4b and 4c. Where the monitoring is sub-contracted to a number of consultants, which may vary from year to year, it is not recommended that these be reported here.

4c Relationship to CA

Optional: Explain the relationship of the responsible organisations to the relevant CA (e.g. an agency of the CA).

Some Member States typically have their monitoring undertaken or managed by other organisations, either delegated to government institutes and research establishments or contracted out. Additionally some of the monitoring may be undertaken by or through industry operators in agreement with the CA. In these cases, the Member State can (optionally) provide details of which organisations are actually undertaking the monitoring in Q4b and 4c. Where the monitoring is sub-contracted to a number of consultants, which may vary from year to year, it is not recommended that these be reported here.

See explanation in 4b

4d Programme name

Give name of monitoring programme.

Select one from List: Monitoring programmes (All lists in reporting document)

After selecting one of the specified monitoring programmes, identify the geographic area covered by the programme (i.e. its' MarineUnitID).
It is possible to copy the information from a previously entered programme report.
The link to relevant sub-programmes is also established here.

4e Programme ID

Provide a unique identifier for programme.

Use sub(region) and MS code (e.g. BALDE) plus MS-defined alpha-numeric code (e.g. MADIT-D08)

4f Programme description

Describe the overall approach of the monitoring programme, including:
•    The rationale for your balance between monitoring of state/impact, pressures, activities and measures?
•    How it adapts to new and emerging environmental problems (pressures and impacts) in relation to the relevant Descriptor(s).
Include references/web-links where possible.

Free text description or URL link or section in paper report

The description of the approach to the monitoring programme should indicate which parts of the DPSIR model are being addressed, and any reasoning for not addressing all parts. More information on the DPSIR model is available here. It is not intended that responses should be lengthy, but rather that the issues raised have been considered.

Care should be taken not to repeat information that is required later under other questions about the monitoring programme or at the sub-programme level.


5a Relevant GES criteria

Which GES criteria are addressed by the programme?

Select all relevant from list in Decision. (All lists in reporting document)

Q5f and 5h are free text fields, where explanations to the responses given here can be provided if necessary.


5b Relevant GES characteristics [indicators]

Which GES characteristics (indicators) are addressed by the programme?

Select all relevant from list in Decision. Select all relevant from those defined by your Art. 9 report.

Q5b should reflect what was reported under Article 9, but the monitoring programmes may include additional indicators (e.g. from more recent work in Regional Sea Conventions) which will be used in future (2018) assessments, as well as indicators which provide supplementary information (e.g. on salinity and sea temperature) to support assessments.
Q5f and 5h are free text fields, where explanations to the responses given here can be provided if necessary.

5c Relevant features, pressures and impacts from MSFD Annex III

Which elements of Annex III (ecosystem components, pressures/impacts) are addressed by the programme?

Select all relevant features and pressures from the Lists:
•    Functional groups
•    Predominant habitats
•    Physical and chemical features
•    Pressures

It is for the Member State, in conjunction where appropriate with neighbouring states in the (sub)region, to define which Annex III characteristics are selected for monitoring purposes on the basis of their relevance to assessing GES and progress on targets.

The categories provided under Q5c are broad (as per the term lists for 2012 reporting), e.g. synthetic/non-synthetic substances. The specific elements being monitoring within these broad categories should be reported under Q9a.

The functional group categories should only be used for birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and pelagic cephalopods. Benthic invertebrates and macrophytes are part of the seabed habitats. Pelagic phyto- and zooplankton are part of the water column habitats. Use the ‘reduced salinity’ category for water column habitats in the Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions.

5d Adequacy: for assessment of GES (Art. 8 & 9)

Will the programme provide adequate data and information to enable the periodic assessment of environmental status, and distance from and progress towards GES, including whether environmental status is improving, stable or deteriorating? If not, then complete Q5h.

Adequate data: Yes or no?
Established methods for assessment: Yes or no?
Adequate understanding of GES: Yes or no?
Adequate capacity to perform assessments: Yes or no?

‘Data and information’ refers to the information needed to assess whether GES has been achieved and if not, the distance to GES.

If the answer is ‘no’ to one or more of the questions within Q5d, it suggests there are some gaps in the programme; some explanation of how the inadequacy will be addressed should be given in Question 5h.

‘Capacity’ in this question refers to the necessary expertise and resources being available to perform assessments.


5e Natural variability

How does the programme address natural variability?

Select all relevant from List: Monitoring natural variability. (All lists in reporting document)

5f Description_GES

Describe how the programme:
a.    addresses assessment needs for the relevant Descriptor(s) and targets;
b.    meets the needs of providing data/ information to support assessment of the Descriptor (or particular biodiversity component programme for D1, 4, 6);
c.    contributes to determining distance from GES and trends in status;
d.    addresses natural and climatic variability and distinguish this from the effects of anthropogenic pressures;
e.    responds to risks of not achieving GES.

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report

The determination of whether a descriptor is at GES or not is one of the main purposes of establishing monitoring programmes under the MSFD; this question should be answered so that it can be seen how the monitoring programme will contribute to determining GES. If GES has not been achieved, then it should be possible to establish the distance from GES.

5g Gap-filling date_GES

If not yet considered adequate for data and information needs, when will the programme be considered fully adequate?

Select one:
a.    Considered adequate in 2014
b.    In time for the next assessment due in 2018;
c.    In time for the updating of monitoring programmes due in 2020;
d.    Later than 2020

5h Plans_GES

If the programme is not considered fully adequate, what plans are in place to make it adequate (e.g. to fill gaps in data, methods, understanding or capacity)?

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report

6a Relevant targets (from Art. 10)

Which target(s) are addressed by your programme?

Select all relevant target(s) (from the Member State report on Art. 10)

The list of targets provided is as reported by the Member State in 2012

6b Adequacy: for assessment of progress with targets (Art. 10)

Will the programme provide suitable and sufficient data and information to enable assessment of progress towards achievement of the relevant environmental targets (using indicators identified by the Member State under Art. 10)

Suitable and sufficient data: Yes or No?
Established methods for assessment: Yes or No?
Adequate capacity to perform assessments: Yes or No?

‘Suitable and sufficient data and information’ refers to the information needed to assess whether the targets are being achieved.
If the answer is ‘no’ to one or more of the questions within Q6b, it suggests there are some gaps in the programme; some explanation of how the inadequacy will be addressed should be provided in Q6f.

6c Target updating

Will the data and information collected enable the regular updating of targets?

Yes or No?

6d Description_Targets

Explain how the programme will contribute to the assessment of progress with targets.

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report

The linking of monitoring programmes to targets, and showing how they contribute to the assessment of progress with the targets is one of the main purposes of the monitoring programmes.

6e Gap-filling date_Targets

If not yet considered adequate for data and information needs, when will the programme be considered fully adequate?

Select one:
a.    Considered adequate in 2014
b.    In time for the next assessment due in 2018;
c.    In time for the updating of monitoring programmes due in 2020;
d.    Later than 2020

6f Plans_Targets

If the programme is not considered fully adequate, what plans are in place to make it adequate (e.g. to fill gaps in data, methods or capacity)?

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report


7a Relevant activities (from Art. 8.1c)

Which activities will the programme address?

List of relevant activities to be monitored (select from List: Activities from Art. 8.1c reports)MSFD Annex V refers to monitoring of activities to inform the need for measures (V.4) and to monitoring of activities to confirm measures are effective (V.6) – this monitoring could occur on land or at sea. (All lists in reporting document)


7b Description_Activities

Describe the nature of activity and/or pressure monitoring (e.g. addressing spatial distribution, intensity and/or frequency of the activity) and how the programme is considered adequate to assess which activities and/or pressures are causing environmental change (degradation) and hence help identify possible new measures, if needed.

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report

Q7b asks for detail about the activities listed under Q7a.
It is not intended that responses should be lengthy, but rather that the issues raised have been considered.

7c Relevant measures

Optional: Which existing measures will the programme address?

List existing relevant measures that the monitoring programme addresses

As measures under MSFD Article 13 are to be defined for the first time by 2015, any existing measures reported here are without prejudice to Member State decisions on what is relevant for MSFD under Article 13. However, where monitoring of existing measures is already in place and these measures are expected to be included as MSFD measures in 2016, they can (optionally) be identified here.
In subsequent reporting rounds (i.e. 2020 update on monitoring programmes), links to MSFD measures reported in 2016 can be made

7d Description_Measures

Optional: Describe the nature of monitoring of measures and how the programme enables their effectiveness (impact) in relation to delivering desired changes in environmental status to be assessed (e.g. what processes are in place to prove corrective measures are having the desired effect, and how is uncertainty quantified)?

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report

MSFD Annex V refers to monitoring to assess 'impact' (effectiveness) of measures (V.3). It is logical that there is some means to know if the measures taken are achieving their aims. If the programme is monitoring measures (as opposed to the marine environmental condition affected by the measures) then these could be on land or at sea.

The text here could show how the monitoring programmes are quantifying the relationship between the response part of the DPSIR model and the other elements of the model, namely the Drivers, Pressures, State and Impacts.

It is not intended that responses should be lengthy, but rather that the issues raised have been considered.

7e Adequacy for assessment of measures (Art. 13)

Optional: Will the programme provide adequate data and information to enable the identification of activities and/or their pressures that are causing environmental degradation (and consequently suitable measures if needed) and the effectiveness of existing measures?

Adequate data: Yes or no?
Established methods for assessment: Yes or no?
Adequate understanding of GES: Yes or no?
Adequate capacity to perform assessments: Yes or no?
Addresses activities/pressures: Yes or no?
Addresses effectiveness of measures: Yes or no?

7f Gap-filling date_Activities_Measures

If not yet considered adequate for data and information needs, when will the programme be considered fully adequate?

Select one:
a.    Considered adequate in 2014;
b.    In time for the next assessment due in 2018;
c.    In time for the updating of monitoring programmes due in 2020;
d.    Later than 2020.

The ‘data and information needs’ are what the Member State considers necessary to meet the objectives of the monitoring programme (i.e. here in relation to assessing the effectiveness of measures).

8a Links to existing monitoring programmes

Which existing monitoring programmes already established under Community legislation or international agreements contribute to and are compatible with your MSFD programme?
Note: specific details are captured at sub-programme level – question 4m)

Select the relevant instrument from List: Monitoring other Directives/Conventions. (All lists in reporting document)

These are existing programmes for EU policies or for international conventions. This question is to provide a high-level link only to these other relevant monitoring programmes. As each policy may encompass a number of different monitoring programmes, specific details on which of these is being included in the MSFD programmes should be captured at sub-programme level under Q4l.


4g Sub-Programme ID

Provide a unique identifier for sub-programme.

Use sub(region) and MS code (e.g. BALDE) plus MS-defined alpha-numeric code (e.g. MADIT-D08-01)

Each sub-programme ID for each (sub)region/Member State must be unique. Where a Member State has the same sub-programme in several subregions, only the subregion part of the code need be different, e.g. ANSDE-D0146-01, BALDE-D0146-01.

The addition of a short name to the end of the 'code' part can make it more understandable for ongoing use, e.g. BALSE-

08-01_HeavyMetalsInSediment, BALSE-D08-02_OrganicPollutantsInBiota
When a sub-programme is jointly reported for a (sub)region (e.g. prepared via the Regional Sea Convention), this should be reflected in the code, e.g. BALSE-D08-02_HELCOM_OrganicPollutantsInBiota.

4h Temporal scope

Provide the start date of the sub-programme (past or future) and, if appropriate, an end date, or indicate the programme is ongoing

Start date: YYYY
End Date: YYYY, 9999 (ongoing)

Only one start date and end date is permitted.
The start date should be the earliest date that the sub-programme started, going back as many years as possible before 2014. Whilst data quality issues may have improved over time (i.e. data from long past may be of lesser quality) such past data nevertheless can usefully contribute to a time-series dataset for this sub-programme.

It is expected that most sub-programmes reported in the 2014 reporting cycle will at present have no planned end date– in such cases, enter 9999. This situation may change in future reporting cycles to reflect changing needs of the monitoring.

There will be cases where the earliest start date varies amongst elements/parameters of the same sub-programme. Here, the earliest starting date of a particular element/parameter of the sub-programme should be used. If additional detail or clarification is required, this should be provided in Question 4j.

The following example from Poland illustrates possible variations in start dates: the sub-programme on nutrient levels started in 1979 (within the then HELCOM BMP), although only in the offshore area. It was included in the National Monitoring Programme only in 1990. Since 1999 it was extended into the entire Polish sector of the Baltic Sea, including the coastal zone. For MSFD, enter 1979 as the start date and provide the additional detail in Q4j.

4i Spatial scope

Indicate the coverage of the sub-programme according to the four jurisdictional zones of MSFD Marine Waters (or outside this, either landward or beyond marine waters if appropriate, e.g. for pressures).

Select all relevant from List: Monitoring zones. (All lists in reporting document)

This question is intended to give only a coarse categorization of the areas (zones) covered by the sub-programme. If only a proportion of the selected category is covered by the sub-programme this should be reflected under Q9g which accommodates more specific geographic information, including the density of sampling within these zones.

“Terrestrial part of MS” refers to any monitoring above the high water mark.

“Continental shelf (beyond EEZ)” refers to monitoring of MS seabed/subsoil beyond the zone where the Member State has jurisdiction over the water column (e.g. beyond 200nm of EEZs or the Territorial Waters/Contiguous Zone of some Mediterranean states).

“Beyond MS Marine Waters” refers to monitoring in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), including monitoring in the water column/air above MS Continental Shelf areas (i.e. high seas). It can also be used for monitoring in waters of neighbouring countries

4j Description_Spatial Scope

Briefly describe the rationale for the geographic scope of the programme (e.g. in relation to relevant environmental characteristics, such as distribution of a species or habitat, to pressures or to relevant activities and measures).

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report

If the area covered by the sub programme varies from the reporting area (MarineUnitID) for the Programme (reflects also what is entered for Q4i), then an explanation should be provided here, e.g. where the distribution of a pressure or the distribution of the monitored species or habitat is restricted compared with the reporting area.V1


4k Purpose

For what purpose is this sub-programme aimed at collecting data and information?

Select all relevant from List: Monitoring purpose. (All lists in reporting document)

The categories provided are related to the DPSIR model and are intended to reflect the main focus of the sub-programme. As sub-programmes should be defined separately according to the main elements being monitored (e.g. particular species/functional groups or habitats, specific pressures), it is expected that typically only one category will be relevant per sub-programme. However, monitoring of certain naturally occurring elements (e.g. nutrients, underwater sound) is sometimes considered as ‘state monitoring’, whilst the reason for this monitoring is to assess whether the levels are raised above natural levels (i.e. whether it is acting as a pressure) – in these cases, the category ‘pressure’ should be selected. Where the elements monitored are being changed due to a pressure (e.g. oxygen levels resulting from nutrient enrichment), they should be categorised as ‘state/impact monitoring’.

4l Links to programmes of other directives & conventions

If monitoring for other Community legislation or international agreements is contributing to your MSFD programme (as indicated in Question 8a), give details as follows:
•    Name of other programme
•    A specific URL web link(s) to where the information required for each part of Question 9 can easily be found and is directly relevant for your marine waters.
•    Describe how the existing monitoring will contribute to MSFD needs including how it is integrated into your MSFD programme.
This field can also be used to link to a national programme.
If the information required for each part of Question 9 is maintained on a permanent official web site, Question 9 does not need to be completed.

Free text (for programme name and description) and URL web link(s) or indicate Not relevant (to this sub-programme).

This question compliments the information submitted in Q8a, for the monitoring programme as a whole, by asking for more specific information relevant to a particular sub-programme.

If Q4l is completed satisfactorily, with the information required for each part of Question 9 maintained on a permanent official web site (decentralised reporting on either a national or regional web site), then Q9 does not need to be completed.

9a Elements monitored

Which elements (ecosystem components, pressures from MSFD Annex III) are monitored?

List the specific elements (e.g. particular species or contaminants) within the broad categories reported under Question 5c.

This question links to the broad categories given at Q5c but should not repeat what is reported under Q5c. Q9a asks for more specific information on the particular elements to be monitored within the broad categories reported under Q5c (e.g. specific species, habitats, chemicals). These could, for example be the specific species, habitats, contaminants or nutrients used in Art. 8 and 9 reporting.

For example, under Q5c, the relevant predominant habitat types should be selected and under Q9a more specific habitat types (or even specific benthic species) within these broad categories can be listed. Similarly, under Q9a specific chemical substances such as Pb, Hg and Cd can be listed, which correspond to the broad category ‘non-synthetic substances’ reported under Q5c.

If you wish to report the monitored element in a certain order (e.g. taxonomic order), then 'Add monitored elements after selected' can be used in the web form to insert elements where required.

If subsequent questions in Q9 become complex (e.g. different responses are needed for every element monitored, such as for hazardous substances) a simple table could be prepared to address the Q9 questions. This could be provided on another website if Q4l is used or provided as a ‘paper’ report.

9b Parameters measured

What parameters of the elements are measured?

Choose from the List: Monitoring parameters, e.g. concentration in sediment, population size, intensity of pressure [full list to be developed]. (All lists in reporting document)

'Intensity of pressure' is a generic term for all pressures. Pressures can be measured either as inputs to the environment (cf 2012 reporting sheets) or as (output) levels in the environment. For example, for D5, it could refer to nutrient input loads or to nutrient concentrations in the sea.

9c Monitoring method

What is the method used for monitoring (data collection) in the field and, where appropriate, any subsequent laboratory processing?

Provide a reference to a published method or, if unpublished, describe the method used.

The choice of sampling and laboratory methods can depend on multiple conditions, which could require lengthy and detailed explanation. Therefore, this question requires only a simple reference to a published or publicly available document or URL link (such as one given in the JRC monitoring guidance ), and not an explanation as to why a particular method has been chosen. For example, for monitoring of contaminant concentrations, a simple reference can be made to the relevant OSPAR or HELCOM technical monitoring guidance.


9d Method alteration

Describe the methods used if they deviate from the published method provided.
If this field is left blank it is assumed the method used is according to the published method given in Q9c.

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report

If this field is left blank (or ‘Not relevant’ is entered), it is assumed that the method used is according to the standard method referenced under Q9c.


9e Quality Assurance (QA)

In addition to a specified method, is there any additional Quality Assurance used?

Select one from List: Monitoring QA. (All lists in reporting document)

This question (on QA) and the next (on QC) go hand in hand, but they are different and so deserve a separate response. QA can be considered as the guidance on procedures (how to collect the data) put in place before monitoring is started, whilst QC is undertaken during/afterwards to check if the outcomes of the monitoring (the data or products) are of sufficient quality.

The list provided is from the SeaDataNet controlled vocabulary (L151) and is not likely to cover all situations. Use the same text box for both ‘National’ and ‘Other’ standards, to add additional QA standards, as needed

9f Quality Control (QC)

What type of Quality Control is used?

Select one from List: Monitoring QC. (All lists in reporting document)

The list provided is from the SeaDataNet controlled vocabulary (L121) and is not likely to cover all situations. Use the same text box for both ‘National’ and ‘Other’ standards, to add additional QA standards, as needed.


9g Spatial resolution (density) of sampling

What is the proportion of the geographic scope (given in Q4i) which is covered by sampling?
This question is intended to provide a broad indication only of expected sampling density, as information on actual sampling locations, once collected, should be linked to Art. 19.3 on access to the monitoring data]

Approximate proportion (%)

This question is intended to provide only a broad indication of expected sampling coverage and density, as information on actual sampling locations, once collected, will be linked to Article 19.3 on access to the monitoring data.

For Q9g, ‘proportion’ addresses sampling area covered within the reporting area (MarineUnitID), whilst ‘number of samples’ addresses sample density within the area sampled.
Some monitoring is carried out on a risk-based approach which could reduce the geographic coverage of the sampling, but ‘high risk areas’ may be sampled more frequently and in more detail (higher density of samples).

‘Proportion’ may be difficult to define for some types of monitoring. Absolute precision is not needed here and an estimate, to nearest 10%, is sufficient to indicate the anticipated areal coverage. If the samples taken (even if very few) are intended to be representative of the entire reporting area, give 100%.

What is the density of sampling within the proportion given above?

Approximate number of samples expected to be taken from the assessment area (No./year)

Absolute values are not required here, just an indication of the number of samples which are expected to be taken per year* (see below). More detailed information will come from the data required under Article 19.3.
‘Sample’ can mean a station, transect, or sampling area, depending on the methodology/parameter/indicator used. The following are illustrative examples:
•    for macroalgae/angiosperms – 1 sample from 4 locations = 4 samples
•    for macrozoobenthos – 1 sample from 17 locations = 17 samples.
If replicates are taken at the same station (e.g. 3 or 5 replicate grabs for macrozoobenthos), treat these as one sample.
Given the likely variation in what might be reported as a ‘sample’, further details should be expressed under Q9i.
*If sampling is not to be undertaken every year (once or more frequently within the year) then explain in Q9i the length of time covered by the value given (e.g. YY samples over the 6-year reporting cycle).

9h Temporal resolution (periodicity) of sampling

What is the temporal frequency of the sub-programme?

Select one from List: Monitoring frequency. (All lists in reporting document)


9i Description_Sub-programme

Where the information for Questions 9a-9h varies within the sub-programme (e.g. spatially or temporarily), provide details. This could include, for example:
•    variation in relation to risk across the area (e.g. coastal/offshore, pressure-related)
•    variation due to differing management regimes (e.g. MPAs or other management zones)

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report

Risk is most likely linked to pressures (and hence ultimately to risk of not achieving GES). If the reporting scale (MarineUnitID)) is large, then there may be smaller areas (such as HELCOM sub-basins, WFD water bodies, etc.) where sampling is more intense than other areas subject to lower risk from pressures.


10a Aggregation of data

At which scale can the data from the sub-programme be aggregated for environmental assessments?

Select one from List: Monitoring data aggregation scale. (All lists in reporting document)

This refers to the ability to aggregate the data (in raw or processed form) from several sources (different Member States) so that it can be used/interpreted/mapped at a scale beyond the source scale, e.g. to contribute to an indicator assessment at (sub)regional scale. This ability to aggregate indicates that the data format has been agreed with other countries (e.g. for submission to international databases or for use in (sub)regional indicator assessments). If the aggregation level beyond the national level does not fit one of the categories provided, please describe the scale it can aggregated to in Q10b.


10b Description_DataAggregation

If 'other' is selected, describe the scale.
If the data cannot be aggregated (beyond the national scale), give reasons?

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report


10c Access to data

Nature of data/information to be made available: Select one or more from List: Data type. (All lists in reporting document)

Questions 10c and 10d refer directly to the responsibilities of Member States under Article 19.3, and thus it is for Member States to decide how best to respond to these points. Note, however, that the work within the Technical Group on Data, led by the EEA, is helping to define this process (within an agreed framework); this work may offer answers to some of these questions.

What method/mechanism will be used to make the data available? Select from List: Data access mechanism

Will the EC/EEA have use rights? Select from List: Data access mechanism

Which INSPIRE standard is/will be used? Select one from List: INSPIRE standards. A list of guidelines available can be found here. Annex II and III standards were adopted in April 2013

When will the data first become available? Date: MM/YYYY. Enter the date of reporting, or even a past date if desired.

How frequently are the data expected to be updated thereafter? Select one from List: Monitoring frequency. As a minimum, the data should be updated at least every six years, in time for use in Article 8 assessments.


10d Description_DataAccess

Describe how the data and information from the programme will be made accessible to the EC/EEA, indicating whether this is in place already or under development.

Free text or URL web link or section in paper report


Annex 3 Links between EU sub-programmes and HELCOM sub-programmes

EU Sub-programmesHELCOM Sub-programmes
Mobile species  abundance and/or biomass

Marine breeding birds abundance and distribution

Marine wintering birds abundance and distribution

Seal abundance

Harbor porpoise abundance

Coastal fish

Migratory fish

Offshore fish

Commercial shellfish

Mobile species – population characteristics

Coastal fish

Migratory fish

Offshore fish

Commercial shellfish

Mobile species
health status

Marine bird health

Health status of mammals

Mobile species –
state of habitats

Ice

Water column hydrological characteristics

Water column chemical characteristics

Nutrients

Mobile species mortality/injury rates from fisheriesFisheries by-catch
Mobile species – mortality/injury rates from other human activities

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

 

Seabed habitats – distribution and extent

Habitat-forming species and substrates

 

Seabed habitats – physical/chemical characteristicsSeabed habitat physical characteristics
Seabed habitats – community characteristics

Hardbottom Species

Softbottom fauna

Softbottom flora

Benthic species – abundance and/or biomass

Hardbottom Species

Softbottom fauna

Softbottom flora

Benthic species –
health status
Imposex
Water column –
physical characteristics
Water column –physical characteristics
Ice coverIce
Water column – hydrological characteristicsWater column – hydrological characteristics
Water column –
chemical characteristics

Water column – chemical characteristics

Nutrients

Pelagic habitats – community characteristics

Phytoplankton - Pigments

Phytoplankton - Species composition, abundance and biomass

Zooplankton - Species composition, abundance and biomass

Plankton blooms

Phytoplankton - Species composition, abundance and biomass

Phytoplankton - Pigments

Non-indigenous species inputs – from specific sources

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

 

Nutrient inputs – land-based sources

Nutrient inputs from landbased sources

Nutrients input from atmosphere

Nutrient inputs from atmosphere

Nutrients input from sea-based sourcesNutrient inputs from seabased sources
Contaminants inputs – land-based sources

Contaminant inputs land-based sources

Contaminants input from atmosphere

Contaminant inputs from atmosphere

Contaminants input from sea-based sources

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

Contaminants input from sea-based acute events incl. oil spillsAcute pollution
Litter inputs – land based (riverine) sources

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

Non-indigenous species – abundance and/or biomassNon-indigenous species. At present referring to monitoring of phytoplankton, zooplankton, macrophytes, benthic fauna
Nutrients levels – in water columnNutrients
Physical loss – distribution and extent (e.g. from infrastructure, coastal protection)

Physical damage and loss - under development

                                                                                          

Physical disturbance – from bottom trawling

Physical damage and loss - under development

Physical disturbance – from dredging and disposal of dredge material

Physical damage and loss - under development

 

Physical disturbance from sand and gravel extraction

Physical damage and loss - under development

 

Contaminant levels – in water/sediment

Contaminants in water

Contaminants in sediment

Contaminants levels – in species, including seafood

Contaminants in biota

Contaminants in seafood - under development

Microbial pathogen levels – in water column (bathing water)

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

 

Microbial pathogen levels – in biota (seafood)

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

 

Litter – characteristic and abundance/volume

Macrolitter characteristics and abundance/volume

Litter microparticles – abundance/volumeMicrolitter particle abundance and characteristics
Acute underwater noise – distribution, frequency and levelsHELCOM monitoring programme but not yet in place
Diffuse underwater noise – distribution, frequency and levelsHELCOM monitoring programme but not yet in place
Activities extracting living resources (fisheries, including recreational, mearl, seaweed)

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme,

Catch data available but not yet included in the manual

Activities extracting non-living resources (sand, gravel, dredging)

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme,

Data collection and reporting requirements exists in HELCOM but no yet included in the manual

Activities extracting non-living resources (desalination)

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

 

Activities producing food (aquaculture)

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

Activities with permanent infrastructures (e.g. renewable energy, oil & gas, ports) or structural changes (e.g. coastal defences)

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

 

Sea-based mobile activities (shipping, boating)

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

 

Coastal human activities (e.g. tourism, recreational sports, ecotourism)No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme
Land-based activities

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme

Effectiveness of measures

No equivalent HELCOM sub-programme



Acknowledgments

The production of the HELCOM Monitoring Manual was made possible through the input from more than 100 experts from the following HELCOM projects and expert groups: MORE, CORESET II, EUTRO-OPER, ZEN-QAI, PEG, FISH-PRO II and Seal expert group, LOAD expert group, MORS expert group, HELCOM marine litter experts network, the HELCOM coordinated EU-funded project BALSAM, and the Life+ project BIAS. Their contribution is greatly acknowledged.