An Objective Framework to Test the Quality of Candidate Indicators of Good Environmental Status

Queirós, Ana M.; Strong, James A.; Mazik, Krysia; Carstensen, Jacob; Bruun, John; Somerfield, Paul J.; Bruhn, Annette; Ciavatta, Stefano; Flo, Eva; Bizsel, Nihayet; Özaydinli, Murat; Chuševė, Romualda; Muxika, Iñigo; Nygård, Henrik; Papadopoulou, Nadia; Pantazi, Maria; Krause-Jensen, Dorte. 2016 An Objective Framework to Test the Quality of Candidate Indicators of Good Environmental Status. Frontiers in Marine Science, 3.

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Large efforts are on-going within the EU to prepare the Marine Strategy Framework Directive's (MSFD) assessment of the environmental status of the European seas. This assessment will only be as good as the indicators chosen to monitor the 11 descriptors of good environmental status (GEnS). An objective and transparent framework to determine whether chosen indicators actually support the aims of this policy is, however, not yet in place. Such frameworks are needed to ensure that the limited resources available to this assessment optimize the likelihood of achieving GEnS within collaborating states. Here, we developed a hypothesis-based protocol to evaluate whether candidate indicators meet quality criteria explicit to the MSFD, which the assessment community aspires to. Eight quality criteria are distilled from existing initiatives, and a testing and scoring protocol for each of them is presented. We exemplify its application in three worked examples, covering indicators for three GEnS descriptors (1, 5, and 6), various habitat components (seaweeds, seagrasses, benthic macrofauna, and plankton), and assessment regions (Danish, Lithuanian, and UK waters). We argue that this framework provides a necessary, transparent and standardized structure to support the comparison of candidate indicators, and the decision-making process leading to indicator selection. Its application could help identify potential limitations in currently available candidate metrics and, in such cases, help focus the development of more adequate indicators. Use of such standardized approaches will facilitate the sharing of knowledge gained across the MSFD parties despite context-specificity across assessment regions, and support the evidence-based management of European seas.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2296-7745
Date made live: 15 Nov 2018 16:23 +0 (UTC)

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