Implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)


Arbeitsschritte zur Umsetzung der MSRL (c) Thünen-Institut/Wolfgang Nikolaus Probst
Die Grafik zeigt die Arbeitsschritte des Thünen-Instituts zur Umsetzung der Meeresstrategierahmenrichtlinie (MSRL). (© Thünen-Institut/Wolfgang Nikolaus Probst)

As holistic approach, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive poses a challenge to the scientific community: How to describe the state of the marine environment with 11 descriptors? We develop indicators, techniques in risk assessments, and integrated assessment frameworks.

Background and Objective

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) obligates EU Member States to achieve a Good Environmental Status (GES) of their marine waters by 2020. Within the MSFD, eleven descriptors of the environmental status are evaluated by indicators, which currently are not fully operational. We work on the operationalisation of fish-related indicators and will develop integrated assessment systems to combine the outcome of single indicators into the evaluation of the corresponding descriptor status. The first step in the implementation of the MSFD is to review the temporal and spatial availability of data for the identification and validation of potential indicators. During this stage, the main objective is the identification and validation of indicator species and ecosystem components. After the identification of indicators, the influences of human pressures on these indicators will be quantified by risk assessments using varying temporal and spatial scales. Finally, the risk assessments will be used to establish methods for integrated assessment of the marine ecosystems which will help policy makers to decide on alternative management scenarios.

Target Group

  • National and international political authorities
  • Scientific community (ICES)


We collaborate in national and international committees (BLANO, ICES, EU, OSPAR), provide advice to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and conduct scientific studies (dynamic population models, data analysis, development of pressure & state indicators).

Data and Methods

  • DCF data
  • TI-Surveydata
  • VMS-Data (provided by BLE)

Our Research Questions

  • What is the good environmental status (GES)?
  • By which indicators can GES be defined?
  • How can the current environmental status be measured and assessed?
  • How can single assessments of environmental status be combined and integrated?

Preliminary Results

  • Development of indicators on size distribution within a stock, fishing impacts on benthic communities and state of fish communities
  • Analysis of historic conditions of fish communities
  • Methods for the evaluation of indicators

Links and Downloads


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners


4.2010 - 12.2020

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing


Results 1 - 10 of 11

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  1. Froese R, Winker H, Coro G, Demirel N, Tsikliras AC, Dimarchopoulou D, Scarcella G, Probst WN, Dureuil M, Pauly D (2018) A new approach for estimating stock status from length frequency data. ICES J Mar Sci 75(6):2004-2015, DOI:10.1093/icesjms/fsy078
  2. Probst WN, Rau A, Oesterwind D (2016) A proposal for restructuring descriptor 3 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Mar Policy 74:128-135, DOI:10.1016/j.marpol.2016.09.026
  3. Probst WN, Lynam CP (2016) Integrated assessment results depend on aggregation method and framework structure - a case study within the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Ecol Indic 61:871-881
  4. Probst WN, Stelzenmüller V (2015) A benchmarking and assessment framework to operationalise ecological indicators based on time series analysis. Ecol Indic 55:94-106, DOI:10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.02.035
  5. Shephard S, Hal R van, Boois IJ, Birchenough SNR, Foden J, O'Connor J, Geelhoed SCV, Hoey G van, Marco-Rius F, Reid DG, Schaber M (2015) Making progress towards integration of existing sampling activities to establish Joint Montoring Programmes in support of the MSFD. Mar Policy 59:105-111, DOI:10.1016/j.marpol.2015.06.004
  6. Probst WN, Rau A, Diekmann R, Dorrien C von, Seidel H, Fock HO, Kraus G, Stelzenmüller V (2014) Eine Thünen-Evaluierung von fisch- und fischereibezogenen Indikatoren der EU Meeresstrategie-Rahmenrichtlinie (MSRL). Hamburg: Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, 106 p, Thünen Working Paper 25, DOI:10.3220/WP_25_2014
    pdf document 1130 kb
  7. Probst WN, Oesterwind D (2014) How good are alternative indicators for spawning-stockbiomass (SSB) and fishing mortality (F)? ICES J Mar Sci 71(5):1137-1141, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fst207
  8. Zampoukas N, Palialekis A, Duffek A, Graveland J, Giorgi G, Hagebro C, Hanke G, KorpinenS, Tasker M, Tornero V, Abaza V, Battaglia P, Caparis M, Dekeling R, Frias Vega M, Haarich M, Katsanevakis S, Klein H, Krzyninski W, Probst WN, et al (2014) Technical guidance on monitoring for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 166 p, doi:10.2788/70344
  9. Probst WN, Stelzenmüller V, Kraus G (2013) A simulation-approach to assess the size structure of commercially exploited fish populations within the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Ecol Indic 24:621-632, DOI:10.1016/j.ecolind.2012.08.026
  10. Probst WN, Kloppmann MHF, Kraus G (2013) Indicator-based status assessment of commercial fish species in the North Sea according to the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). ICES J Mar Sci 70(3):694-706, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fst010

Results 1 - 10 of 11

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