NEA PANACEA - Integrating marine biodiversity and eutrophication assessments

The North-East Atlantic project on biodiversity and eutrophication assessment integration and creation of effective measures (NEA PANACEA) was established to integrate biodiversity and eutrophication assessments.

The project focused on assessments for OSPAR’s 2023 Quality Status Report on the status of pelagic habitats, benthic habitats, food webs and marine birds. It also highlighted the importance of coherence between assessments of state (biodiversity) and pressure (in particular eutrophication and climate change) assessments.

To this end, OSPAR’s biodiversity experts worked with OSPAR’s eutrophication modelling experts. The EU-funded project was a collaboration of eight partners from five Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic.

Rijkswaterstaat acted as a coordinator for NEA PANACEA to facilitate regional coordination of the implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Its aim was to promote progress and consistency in the reports by various EU Member States.

Recognising the growing need for biodiversity research and a more efficient use of funds, the EU has regularly opened up funding for regional marine conventions, such as OSPAR. As a coordinating partner, Rijkswaterstaat provided a platform for biodiversity experts to pool project ideas and submit proposals. 

As eutrophication is a long-standing problem in the North Sea, and climate change is an emerging challenge in all areas of the North-East Atlantic, Rijkswaterstaat pushed for research that balances these pressures with biodiversity.

NEA PANACEA: New indicators for MSRD reporting

NEA PANACEA developed new indicators, improved existing ones (data flow, geographical coverage, operability) and worked on the development of threshold values.

In addition, the project delivered integrated assessments that combine the results from several indicators at the ecosystem component level (e.g. marine birds). This aided in interpreting outcomes in the light of pressure assessments (e.g. eutrophication), supporting the Marine Strategy Framework Directive’s (MSFD) aim to assess the marine environment holistically.

EU Member States in the North-East Atlantic region can use the NEA PANACEA assessments to inform their reporting for the EU MSFD.

NEA PANACEA’s role in OSPAR’s 2023 Quality Status Report

OSPAR’s periodic Quality Status Reports (2023 version) are the basis for reporting by many EU Member States for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. NEA PANACEA developed and delivered nine biodiversity indicator assessments and four integrated assessments on marine birds, pelagic habitats, benthic habitats and food webs. These assessments are a significant part of the biodiversity-related products in the Quality Status Report.

The project has also established many cross-cutting partnerships between pressure and biodiversity experts. These partnerships have improved the coherence between pressure and biodiversity assessments. They have also laid the groundwork for future collaboration to improve our understanding and assessment of the state of the North-East Atlantic ecosystem.

This information is vital for policymakers. It informs their decision-making and helps them to evaluate the impact of marine conservation measures. Sustainable and ecosystem-based management of the marine environment on which our societies so depend is the key to a healthy future for both nature and society.   

Project period

2021 - 2023

European programme

Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) and The Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2020

Project website



University of PlymouthCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)AquaEcology GrnbH & Co. KGOffice Français de la Biodiversité (OFB)BioConsult Schuchardt & Scholle GbR (BioConsult)JNCC Support Co (JNCC)Instituto Español de Oceanografia (lEO)

Project website