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European marine biodiversity monitoring networks: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Patrício, Joana; Little, Sally; Mazik, Krysia; Papadopoulou, Konstantia-Nadia; Smith, Christopher J.; Teixeira, Heliana; Hoffmann, Helene; Uyarra, Maria C.; Solaun, Oihana; Zenetos, Argyro; Kaboglu, Gokhan; Kryvenko, Olga; Churilova, Tanya; Moncheva, Snejana; Bu?as, Martynas; Borja, Angel; Hoepffner, Nicolas; Elliott, Michael


Joana Patrício

Sally Little

Konstantia-Nadia Papadopoulou

Christopher J. Smith

Heliana Teixeira

Helene Hoffmann

Maria C. Uyarra

Oihana Solaun

Argyro Zenetos

Gokhan Kaboglu

Olga Kryvenko

Tanya Churilova

Snejana Moncheva

Martynas Bu?as

Angel Borja

Nicolas Hoepffner

Michael Elliott


© 2016 Patrício, Little, Mazik, Papadopoulou, Smith, Teixeira, Hoffmann, Uyarra, Solaun, Zenetos, Kaboglu, Kryvenko, Churilova, Moncheva, Bucas, Borja, Hoepffner and Elliott. By 2020, European Union Member States should achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) for 11 environmental quality descriptors for their marine waters to fulfill the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). By the end of 2015, in coordination with the Regional Seas Conventions, each EU Member State was required to develop a marine strategy for their waters, together with other countries within the same marine region or sub-region. Coherent monitoring programs, submitted in 2014, form a key component of this strategy, which then aimed to lead to a Program of Measures (submitted in 2015). The European DEVOTES FP7 project has produced and interrogated a catalog of EU marine monitoring related to MSFD descriptors 1 (biological diversity), 2 [non-indigenous species (NIS)], 4 (food webs), and 6 (seafloor integrity). Here we detail the monitoring activity at the regional and sub-regional level for these descriptors, as well as for 11 biodiversity components, 22 habitats and the 37 anthropogenic pressures addressed. The metadata collated for existing European monitoring networks were subject to a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. This interrogation has indicated case studies to address the following questions: (a) what are the types of monitoring currently in place? (b) who does what and how? (c) is the monitoring fit-for-purpose for addressing the MSFD requirements? and (d) what are the impediments to better monitoring (e.g., costs, shared responsibilities between countries, overlaps, co-ordination, etc.)? We recommend the future means to overcome the identified impediments and develop more robust monitoring strategies. As such the results are especially relevant to implementing comprehensive and coordinated monitoring networks throughout Europe, for marine policy makers, government agencies and regulatory bodies. It is emphasized that while many of the recommendations given here require better, more extensive and perhaps more costly monitoring, this is required to avoid any legal challenges to the assessments or to bodies and industries accused of causing a deterioration in marine quality. More importantly the monitoring is required to demonstrate the efficacy of management measures employed. Furthermore, given the similarity in marine management approaches in other developed systems, we consider that the recommendations are also of relevance to other regimes worldwide.


Patrício, J., Little, S., Mazik, K., Papadopoulou, K., Smith, C. J., Teixeira, H., …Elliott, M. (2016). European marine biodiversity monitoring networks: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Frontiers in Marine Science, 3(SEP), Article 161.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 24, 2016
Online Publication Date Sep 8, 2016
Publication Date Sep 8, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 9, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Frontiers in Marine Science
Electronic ISSN 2296-7745
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue SEP
Article Number 161
Keywords Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD); Biodiversity; Good Environmental Status (GES); Regional sea; Pressures; SWOT analysis
Public URL
Publisher URL


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Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2016 Patrício, Little, Mazik, Papadopoulou, Smith, Teixeira, Hoffmann, Uyarra, Solaun, Zenetos, Kaboglu, Kryvenko, Churilova, Moncheva, Bučas, Borja, Hoepffner and Elliott. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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