The national marine monitoring programme was primarily developed to cater for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requirements. However it also integrates monitoring requirements emanating from various marine-related policies, including requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive and the EU Nature Directives as applicable to the marine environment, and also those of the Barcelona Convention [Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean] and its relevant protocols.
The monitoring programme has a number of aims in relation to the MSFD. It should:
- be geared towards the on-going assessment of environmental status; such ‘state monitoring’ should cover features, activities and pressures relevant for GES, including monitoring of parameters as per Annex III to the MSFD;
- assess progress towards achievement of GES and set environmental targets as reported in the initial cycles of the MSFD and updated thereafter;
- assess the efficiency of measures to be stipulated through the Programme of Measures to be developed by end of 2015;
- investigate causes for failing GES and the degradation of state, and to answer specific questions.
Malta has developed 11 monitoring factsheets incorporating the 13 monitoring programmes reported to the EU Commission in accordance with the MSFD GES descriptors as follows. These factsheets outline the monitoring processes to be applied for each theme or group of related themes, including monitoring parameters, methodologies and, where possible, monitoring areas.
The criteria and indicators have been streamlined to cater for the different policies, and standard methodologies have been used to cover WFD and MEDPOL requirements, as well as other Directives such as Nitrates Directive (e.g. Eutrophication monitoring strategy).
Malta’s monitoring programme adopts a risk-based approach that prioritises monitoring efforts in areas under higher pressures that are at risk and/or for ecological elements that are known to be more sensitive. The programme builds on existing monitoring procedures emanating from other policies (e.g. Common Fisheries Policies, Food Safety Regulations) to avoid duplication of monitoring effort.
The development of the monitoring programme is an iterative process and the programmes as reported will be updated on the basis of improved knowledge throughout the MSFD reporting cycles.
A general report outlining the adequacy of the current monitoring programmes and identifying the need for further development has been drafted on the basis of the MSFD reporting questions.
The monitoring programme was implemented over the period 2017 – 2019 as part of EMFF 8.3.1 project.