As a member of the European Union, Ireland is obliged to comply with a number of environmental directives concerned with the quality of the marine environment. Key directives that require implementation that have a marine emphasis are the Water Framework Directive (WFD), Shellfish Waters Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). In many cases, indicators, criteria and standards have been developed, or are under development, to assess the status of Ireland's marine environment. For the WFD, for example, a set of environmental quality standards (EGSs) and ecological quality ratios (EQRs) have been developed and used to assess the ecological status of transitional (estuarine) and coastal waters. In the MSFD, a set of 11 descriptors, made up of criteria and indicators, both qualitative and quantitative, are currently under development and will be used to assess the environmental status of Ireland's maritime area by 2012. This paper will discuss the current status of activities under each of these directives in Ireland with particular emphasis on the techniques in use or proposed to meet the requirements of each directive.
Keywords: Water quality; Framework directive; Descriptors; Coastal and oceanic
Biography: Dr. Nolan is responsible for oceanographic programmes at the Irish Marine Institute including monitoring of coastal and open ocean areas, in-situ ocean observing infrastructure and ocean modelling. He has conducted more than 30 reesrach cruises in the Atlantic ocean and represents Ireland on the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and the European component of the Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS).