Ocean acidification (OA) is by now a recognised global problem with profoundly negative environmental, social and economic consequences. From a governance perspective, there is the need to ensure a coordinated effort to directly address this problem.
A study led by Dr Charles Galdies from the Institute of Earth Systems of the University of Malta enabled a group of 21 leading European natural and social scientists to team up and review 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 Ocean Acidification (OA) are 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 has 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.
The problems associated with OA and the solutions needed to address them 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 in order 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.
This open access publication 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.
Dr Galdies forms part of the Ocean, Climate Change and Acidification Working Group.