Surveillance indicators and their use in implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Samuel Shephard, Simon P. R. Greenstreet, GerJan J. Piet, Anna Rindorf, Mark Dickey-Collas

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) uses indicators to track ecosystem state in relation to Good Environmental
Status (GES). These indicators were initially expected to be “operational”, i.e. to have well-understood relationships between state and specified
anthropogenic pressure(s), and to have defined targets. Recent discussion on MSFD implementation has highlighted an additional class of “surveillance”
indicators. Surveillance indicators monitor key aspects of the ecosystem for which there is: first, insufficient evidence to define
targets and support formal state assessment; and/or second, where links to anthropogenic pressures are either weak or not sufficiently well understood
to underpin specific management advice. Surveillance indicators are not only expected to directly track state in relation to GES, but also to
provide complementary information (including warning signals) that presents a broader and more holistic picture of state, and inform and support
science, policy, and management. In this study,we (i) present a framework for including surveillance indicators into the Activity–Pressure–State–
Response process, (ii) consider a range of possible indicators that could perform this surveillance role, and (iii) suggest criteria for assessing the
performance of candidate surveillance indicators, which might guide selection of the most effective indicators to perform this function
Original languageEnglish
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)2269-2277
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this