Member State report / Art9 / 2012 / D5 / Ireland / NE Atlantic: Celtic Seas

Report type Member State report to Commission
MSFD Article Art. 9 Determination of GES (and Art. 17 updates)
Report due 2012-10-15
GES Descriptor D5 Eutrophication
Member State Ireland
Region/subregion NE Atlantic: Celtic Seas
Reported by Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
Report date 15/04/2013
Report access ACSIE_MSFD9GES_20130415.xml
GES component
5.1 Nutrients level
5.1.1 Nutrient concentration
5.2.1 Chlorophyll concentration
5.2.2 Water transparency
5.2.3 Abundance of macroalgae
5.2.4 Shift in floristic species composition
5.3.1 Abundance of seaweeds and seagrasses
5.3.2 Dissolved oxygen
Method used
Ireland has utilised the information sharing facilitated by OSPAR on existing methodologies and future developments for determining GES and environmental targets and indicators. The non-binding OSPAR ‘Advice Documents’ use the benefit of OSPAR expertise to set out common approaches for expressing GES and potential methodologies for developing targets and indicators. The OSPAR countries implementing the MSFD have collectively analysed and shared their emerging GES determinations and associated targets and indicators through the creation of an inventory of emerging national proposals. For the biodiversity Descriptors (including 1, 2, 4 and 6) OSPAR countries are sharing expertise on common approaches. An intensive programme of work is still continuing to coordinate national approaches to biodiversity targets and indicators, including the ongoing development of a proposed set of common OSPAR biodiversity indicators for MSFD. Ireland has also participated in EU coordination through the EU CIS process.
Marine reporting units
  • Irish Assesment Area
  • Irish Assesment Area
  • Irish Assesment Area
  • Irish Assesment Area
  • Irish Assesment Area
  • Irish Assesment Area
  • Irish Assesment Area
  • Irish Assesment Area
  • Irish Assesment Area
  • NutrientOrgEnrich
GES description
Human induced eutrophication is minimised and nutrient levels do not cause an accelerated growth of algae or higher forms of plant life to produce an undesirable disturbance to the balance of organisms present in the water and to the quality of the water concerned.
Threshold values
  • Irish Assesment Area = Reference points are based on: 1. Assessment methods are based on OSPAR Common Procedure assessment levels for nutrient concentrations which are set at > 50% above (salinity related and/or region specific) background concentration, and; 2. Relevant Water Framework Directive l standards which are established in National legislation, in the European Communities Environmental Objective (Surface Waters) Regulation, S.I. No.272 of 2009 for WFD-defined coastal water bodies.
Threshold value unit
Proportion of area to achieve threshold value
Not relevant
Reference point type
1. OSPAR Common Procedure: elevated nutrient levels (> 50% above (salinity related and/or region specific) background concentrations). 2. Water Framework Directive: Threshold values based on deviation from reference condition set for high/good and good/moderate boundary for physico-chemical and biological elements. Reference conditions for physico-chemical elements were derived from unimpacted coastal waters. Reference conditions for biological elements were derived from unimpacted coastal waters and expert judgement.
Assessment method
Two steps will be used to assess whether GES has been met. In the first step, the OSPAR Common Procedure methodology (OSPAR, 2005 ) will be used to assess the eutrophication status of Irish marine waters. Where relevant, and for some indicators, the five-class system (high, good, moderate, poor and bad) developed for the WFD will be used. At the indicator level, a score of high or good will indicate that GES has been met, whereas, a score of moderate or worse will indicate that GES has not been met. WFD class boundaries for biological quality elements are expressed as ecological quality ratios (EQRs). EQRs are a means of expressing class boundaries on a common scale from zero to one. The boundary EQR values represent particular degrees of deviation from the corresponding reference values. High status is represented by values relatively close to one (i.e. little or no deviation) and bad status by values relatively close to zero (i.e. substantial deviation). At the descriptor level, GES will be determined not by any single indicator but by the holistic assessment of a number of indicators which reflect, once inter-linked, the main cause/effect relationships of the eutrophication process. In the second step, an assessment will be made to ensure that the eutrophication related environmental objectives set for WFD defined coastal waters have been met. These objectives include the prevention of deterioration in waters classed at high or good status and the restoration of waters classed as less than good to at least good status. (The full list of objectives are set out in the European Communities Environmental Objective (Surface Waters) Regulation (S.I. No.272 of 2009)). This two step approach ensures that the assessment method used to assess GES for eutrophication is harmonised as far as is practicably possible across both Directives.
Development status
Fully operational (in 2012)