The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) stipulates that the Initial Assessment of the environmental status of the marine waters should comprise the following three components:
- An analysis of the current environmental status of marine waters based on physical, chemical and biological features;
- An analysis of the predominant pressures and impacts on the marine environment;
- An economic and social analysis of the use of marine waters and the costs of degradation of the marine environment.
Within this context, the Initial Assessment for Malta describes and assesses the status of Maltese marine waters based on existing data and information according to Table 1 of Annex III of the Directive. This includes information on predominant habitat types and ecologically important species groups occurring in Maltese marine waters, as well as chemical and physical characteristics of these waters and the seabed.
Good Environmental Status and Environmental Targets
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) defines Good Environmental Status (GES) as: ‘the environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive … and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable thus safeguarding the potential for use and activities by current and future generations‘. Member States should determine GES of their marine waters on the basis of the status assessment and in accordance with the qualitative descriptors in Annex I of the Directive.
In May 2017, the EU adopted the Commission Decision 2017/848, laying down criteria and methodological standards on good envrionmental status of marine waters and specifications and standardised methods for monitoring and assessment, and repealing Decision 2010/477/EU. This Decision establishes a set of criteria and indicators for each Annex I descriptor to assess progress towards achievement of Good Environmental Status in marine waters. The Directive also calls for the establishment of environmental targets and associated indicators for their marine waters to guide progress towards achieving GES.
The Initial Assessment and related GES and environmental targets are updated and published every six years.
First Cycle – Malta’s Initial Assessment by theme, GES and targets
Second Cycle – Malta’s Update to the Initial Assessment, GES and environmental targets