Skip to Content

Resource hub

Reviewing and Recommending Methods for Determining Reference Conditions for Marine Benthic Habitats in the North-East Atlantic Region 2012

Marine JNCC Publications Seabed Habitats and Geology 0963-8091 Habitats JNCC report series Marine Marine Habitats Marine Strategy Framework Directive 464 Marine


The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) (2008/56/EC) establishes a framework to protect and conserve Europe’s marine environment with the overall aim of promoting sustainable use of the seas and conservation of marine ecosystems. To achieve this aim, the MSFD identified the achievement of ‘Good Environmental Status’ (GEnS) as a key objective for marine biodiversity. Annex 1 to the Directive describes 11 qualitative descriptors that define the biological, physical and chemical characteristics of GEnS. Of these, two descriptors (D1 – Biological diversity is maintained and D6 – Seabed integrity) have been identified as important for the protection of marine benthic habitats in the North-East Atlantic.

This report highlights the important role expert judgement is likely to play in setting reference conditions for MSFD benthic habitats, both as the sole method and to supplement other approaches. Whilst expert knowledge is widely used in the science and implementation of conservation, there are concerns regarding its use, particularly the belief that judgements will be biased and poorly calibrated leading to poor inference and decision making. It is, therefore, recommended that in instances where expert judgement is used as the sole method to define reference conditions for benthic habitat criteria within the North-East Atlantic, a structured process such as that presented in the report, is adopted. These expert elicitation methods aim to improve the accuracy of expert judgement by reducing bias and dealing with uncertainty.

Resource type Publication

Topic category Environment

Reference date 2012··

Hill, J.M., Earnshaw, S., Burke, C. & Gallyot, J. 2012. Reviewing and Recommending Methods for Determining Reference Conditions for Marine Benthic Habitats in the North-East Atlantic Region. JNCC Report No. 464, JNCC, Peterborough, ISSN 0963-8091.

This report aims to identify, describe and evaluate the methods that could be used to set reference conditions for the MSFD biodiversity criteria most relevant to benthic habitats.

Responsible organisation
Communications, JNCC publisher

Limitations on public access No limitations

Use constraints Available under the Open Government Licence 3.0

Metadata date 2021·01·06

Metadata point of contact
Communications, JNCC

Back to top