European policies and legislation targeting ocean acidification in european waters - Current state

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Charles Galdies
  • Richard Bellerby
  • Donata Canu
  • Wenting Chen
  • Enrique Garcia-Luque
  • Blaženka Gašparović
  • Jelena Godrijan
  • Paul J. Lawlor
  • Frank Maes
  • Alenka Malej
  • Dionisios Panagiotaras
  • Beatriz Martinez Romera
  • Claire E. Reymond
  • Julien Rochette
  • Cosimo Solidoro
  • Robert Stojanov
  • Rachel Tiller
  • Isabel Torres de Noronha
  • Grzegorz Uścinowicz
  • Vaidianu Natașa Vaidianu
  • Roberta Guerra

Ocean acidification (OA) is a global problem with profoundly negative environmental, social and economic consequences. From a governance perspective, there is a need to ensure a coordinated effort to directly address it. This study reviews 90 legislative documents from 17 countries from the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK that primarily border the sea. The primary finding from this study is that the European national policies and legislation addressing OA is at best uncoordinated. Although OA is acknowledged at the higher levels of governance, its status as an environmental challenge is greatly diluted at the European Union Member State level. As a notable exception within the EEA, Norway seems to have a proactive approach towards legislative frameworks and research aimed towards further understanding OA. On the other hand, there was a complete lack of, or inadequate reporting in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive by the majority of the EU Member States, with the exception of Italy and the Netherlands. We argue that the problems associated with OA and the solutions needed to address it are unique and cannot be bundled together with traditional climate change responses and measures. Therefore, European OA-related policy and legislation must reflect this and tailor their actions to mitigate OA to safeguard marine ecosystems and societies. A stronger and more coordinated approach is needed to build environmental, economic and social resilience of the observed and anticipated changes to the coastal marine systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103947
JournalMarine Policy
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This article is based upon work from COST Action CA15217 - Ocean Governance for Sustainability - challenges, options and the role of science, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology). COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology is a funding agency for research and innovation networks. These Actions help connect research initiatives across Europe and enable scientists to grow their ideas by sharing them with their peers. This boosts their research, career and innovation. Authors Charles Galdies and Roberta Guerra were funded by Short-Term Scientific Missions ‘MOsAiGC ‘and ‘ATlaNTES’ Grants COST-STSM-CA15217-Charles Galdies and COST-STSM-CA15217-40699 respectively within the COST Action OCEANGOV. Author Rachel Tiller would like to acknowledge the contributions of the H2020 project GoJelly (grant number 774499) in supporting the work on governance perspective on biodiversity protection in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). Author Alenka Malej wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Mojca Dolinar from ARSO, Ministry of Environment of Republic of Slovenia. Author Natașa Vaidianu would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Romanian Ministry of Research and Innovation, through project number PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2016-2491.