Sea-floor integrity is at a level that ensures that the structure and functions of the ecosystems are safeguarded and benthic ecosystems, in particular, are not adversely affected. Sea Floor includes both the physical structure and biotic composition of the benthic community. Integrity includes the characteristic functioning of natural ecosystem processes and spatial connectedness. There are no points of significant disagreement among experts regarding key terms or what constitutes gradients of degradation in environmental status. However serious problems of sampling and measurement and high scientific uncertainty about aspects of benthic ecology and tolerances of benthic ecosystems to perturbations pose challenges to application of ―good environmental status‖. Sound assessments of GES are possible, but they will have to integrate results from local scales where both natural benthic ecosystems and pressures may be very patchy, to much larger regional and subregional scales.
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