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Multiple Pressures and their Combined Effects in Europe's Seas

Multiple Pressures and their Combined Effects in Europe's Seas

ETC/ICM Technical Report 4/2019

Practically the entire European marine area is facing multiple pressures – such as hazardous substances, fish stock exploitation, climate change, underwater noise, non-indigenous species, seafloor damage, marine litter and nutrient enrichment. This is the conclusion of a report by the European Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine Waters (ETC/ICM) of the European Environment Agency (EEA) that for the first time presents an overview of anthropogenic pressures and their combined effects on Europe's seas.

The assessment covers the period of 2011 to 2016 and presents how human activities and pressures on seas have changed over a longer time horizon. The highest potential combined effects are found along coastal areas of the North Sea, Southern Baltic Sea, Adriatic and Western Mediterranean. However, there are also positive developments and the report points to improvements in nutrient levels, hazardous substances and northern fish and tuna stocks.

The report, to which Dr. Ulf Stein and Katrina Abhold of Ecologic Institute contributed essential parts, is available for download.


Korpinen, S., Klančnik, K., Peterlin, M., Nurmi, M., Laamanen, L., Zupančič, G., Murray, C., Harvey, T., Andersen, J.H., Zenetos, A., Stein, U., Tunesi, L., Abhold, K., Piet, G., Kallenbach, E., Agnesi, S., Bolman, B., Vaughan, D., Reker, J. & Royo Gelabert, E., 2019, Multiple pressures and their combined effects in Europe’s seas. ETC/ICM Technical Report 4/2019: European Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine waters, 164 pp.

Samuli Korpinen, Marco Nurmi, Leena Laamanen (SYKE)
Katja Klančnik, Gašper Zupančič (IWRS)
Monika Peterlin, Johnny Reker, Eva Royo Gelabert (EEA)
Ciarán Murray, Therese Harvey, Jesper H. Andersen, Emilie Kallenbach (NIVA)
Argyro Zenetos (HCMR)
Leonardo Tunesi, Sabrina Agnesi (ISPRA)
GerJan Piet (WUR)
Bas Bolman (Deltares)
David Vaughan (JNCC)
164 pp.
Project ID
Table of Contents

Authors and acknowledgements
Executive Summary
1 Why assess pressures and combined effects in Europe's seas?
2 Human activities at sea and the use of natural capital
2.1 The natural capital held in Europe's seas
2.2 The blue economy can only be sustainable when Europe's seas are clean, healthy and productive
2.3 The use of the natural capital held in Europe's seas
3 Pressures and their effects
3.1 Non-indigenous species introduction
3.2 Commercial exploitation of fish and shellfish stocks
3.3 Nutrient enrichment
3.4 Damage to seabed habitats
3.5 Changes in hydrological conditions
3.6 Contaminants
3.7 Marine litter
3.8 Underwater noise and other forms of energy input
3.9 Microbial pathogens
3.10 Species disturbance due to human presence
3.11 Pressures from climate change
4 Synthesis of activities, pressures and their combines effects in Europe's seas
4.1 Europe's assessment of marine pressures
4.2 Combined effects from multiple pressures
4.3 Europe's pressures in the global context
4.4 Critical ecosystems under pressure
5 Sustainable use of Europe's seas – towards clean, healthy and productive seas
5.1 What is at stake from the degradation and depletion of marine ecosystem capital?
5.2 The future contribution of the blue economy to the sustainable use of Europe's seas?
5.3 Challenges to be tackled
5.4 Managing national and local pressures
5.5 Expanding to the deep
5.6 Europe's pursuit for less impacted seas
6 Knowledge
7 Supporting material
8 References

Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), Seas, Marine Policy, Aquatic Ecosystems, Europe