Integrated Regional monitoring Implementation Strategy in the South European Seas (IRIS -SES) is a pilot project on New Knowledge for an integrated management of human activities in the sea (PP/ENV D2/SEA 2012).

It runs for 18 months starting October 2013 and has partners from 9 Institutes, 7 Member countries and 1 associated country.

IRIS-SES is a DG ENV pilot project which aims to support management of human activities and their effects in EU waters by providing tools for integrated MSFD and other environmental legislation in selected regions and based on existing sampling across various disciplines.

The Marine Framework Strategy Directive (MSFD, 2008/56/EC) aims for clean, healthy and productive marine ecosystems within all EU member states by 2020. Therefore, an ecosystem-based approach to management of the sea is central to delivery of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD 2008/56/EC, Art. 1.3) and its overall objective to take the necessary measures to achieve or maintain good environmental status (GES) by 2020 (Art. 1.1). It can be expected that achieving GES will primarily be accomplished through reductions in pressures (from human activities) and their impacts on the marine environment.

Currently, the MSFD needs to be implemented in all member states (MS); this process is underway and involves various steps (art. 5, MSFD) and challenges, some of which are related to monitoring as stated to the Guide of Applicants of this call:

a) The large geographical area over which the Directive applies (out to 200nm of EEZs and potentially 350nm for seabed aspects);

b) The broad scope of the Directive, which encompasses all aspects of environmental quality (physical, chemical, biological) and associated pressures from human activities (Annex III of the Directive);

c) The relatively short time frame for establishing the monitoring programmes (i.e. by 2014).

d) The need to have good regional cooperation in order to implement the Directive in coherent and coordinated ways between Member States (Art. 5.2).

Therefore, current marine environmental monitoring programs need significant reshaping to meet the needs of MSFD. Moreover, monitoring and assessing the marine waters should be addressed in a balanced manner, in order to reduce the overall cost, promoting and developing a new concept that will support the MSFD implementation.

General Objectives

Several national and European monitoring programmes are running in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, however despite all efforts there is a strong need for integration of the fragmentation and duplication of monitoring activities.

The present proposal, IRIS-SES (Integrated Regional monitoring Implementation Strategy in the South European Seas) aims to build a new approach and develop decision making tools for an integrated marine monitoring for the MSFD, in order to support an effective management of anthropogenic activities in marine waters of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, as selected pilot areas.

IRIS-SES will pursue the above target through five well structured objectives, which are in accordance and will contribute to the objectives of the Union grant programme concerned:

  • Development of integrated monitoring strategies build on the running monitoring programmes
  • Development of multidisciplinary monitoring guidelines and integrated ecosystem surveys
  • Development of strategic approaches to monitor anthropogenic pressures
  • Development of integrated monitoring tools and programmes at sea regions scales
  • Planning for joint monitoring programmes (JMPs) in pilot regions of the under study regional seas, based whenever possible on existing monitoring programmes, looking for their optimization, in order to improve their adequacy to MSFD sampling requirements

 Specific Objectives

  • Develop decision-making tools in order to design efficient and cost effective monitoring programmes
  • Consider possibilities for the integration of techniques and determine the required spatial and temporal resolution
  • Assess, through pilot sampling actions within existing monitoring programs, the feasibility of proposed integrated monitoring strategies.
  • Elaborate guidelines for sampling across the various disciplines (biological, chemical, physical) in order to meet the MSFD requirements
  • Development of cooperation among research institutions within selected regions in the implementation of pilot projects
  • Training events
  • Transfer of knowledge to other regions