Pelagic habitats create the foundation for marine food webs, home to primary producers such as phytoplankton and microbes. These habitats are highly dynamic and exhibit swift responses to environmental variables such as large phytoplankton blooms. Pelagic habitats are crucial to understand as they form the largest ecosystem on Earth, encompassing 99% of the total biosphere volume.
General outcomes of the regional assessments
Using indicators for phytoplankton and zooplankton recent assessments in the Baltic Sea show good status for pelagic habitats in the Kattegat but not in any other Baltic sub-basin.
In the North-east Atlantic region local and large-scale changes in phytoplankton biomass and zooplankton abundance have been observed and plankton communities have experienced significant changes in relative abundance, indicating alterations to key aspects of ecosystem functioning. It is likely that these changes are linked to prevailing environmental conditions such as climate change, nutrient enrichment and other such factors (OSPAR Commission, 2017).
Outcomes from the MSFD assessments
In 2018, Member States had to update the Good Environmental Status (GES) assessments performed under Marine Strategy Framework Directive Article 8. The present dashboard displays the overall status reported by countries for the features, where the results show which is the percentage of assessments where GES has been achieved, not achieved or is unknown or not assessed.