10 messages for 2010 — Marine ecosystems

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Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Key messages

  • Marine ecosystems provide key services both globally and locally, which are essential for maintaining life on our planet. However, marine biodiversity faces an unprecedented range of pressures. In recent years climate change has caused changes in species distribution and presents new challenges for marine biodiversity as oceans become more acidic.
  • Most of the problems facing marine biodiversity were identified some time ago. Despite this there is a lack of integrated data and information to document the extent and severity of problems or progress towards solutions. Data compiled under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive reveal that the unknowns for marine species and habitats are much bigger than those for terrestrial ecosystems.
  • European marine biodiversity is primarily protected by establishing Natura 2000 sites under the Habitats and Birds Directives but there are serious delays in identifying areas and even greater delays in establishing their status. There is evidence that marine protected areas support marine biodiversity and fisheries and that the extent of recovery increases with the age and size of the protected area.
  • EU Governments agree that an ecosystem-based approach is the best means to manage and govern activities affecting the marine environment. This is the aim of Europe's integrated cross-sectoral strategy for sustainable use of the marine environment, which is now being implemented via the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and its link to the Integrated Maritime Policy (targeting 'good environmental status' for Europe's seas by 2020).
  • Synergies between this marine/maritime policy framework and well-established marine nature protection policy will benefit European marine biodiversity.

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