Estonian Marine StrategyEstonian Marine Strategy

Developing the programme of measures for the Estonian marine area in compliance with the requirements of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, including feasibility study on using LNG as an alternative ship fuel to reduce pollution


Origin of the Project

The state of marine ecosystems is influenced by various processes and factors both from land and from sea, the most important of them being human activity. The main aim of the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD 2008/56/EC) is to achieve or maintain good environmental status in the marine environment by the year 2020 at the latest, which can be done by implementing various necessary measures. For that purpose, each Member State shall develop and implement strategies for their marine areas in order to promote sustainable use of seas and conserve marine ecosystems.

The directive brings out 11 qualitative descriptors for determining good environmental status: biological diversity; non-indigenous species; commercially exploited fish and shellfish; food webs; human-induced eutrophication; sea-floor integrity; alteration of hydrographical conditions; concentrations of contaminants; contaminants in fish and other seafood; marine litter; introduction of energy, including underwater noise.

Timetable for development and implementation of Estonian Marine Strategy

The process of development of the Estonian Marine Strategy consists of four activities within the following time-frame:

by 15th July 2012:

by 15th July 2014:

by 2015:

by 2016:

See the project’s timetable here

Initial Assessment of environmental status of Estonian marine area

The first stage of the Estonian Marine Strategy (activities listed under July 2012) was finalized in September 2012: an initial assessment of Estonia’s marine area was carried out, good environmental status was determined and a list of environmental targets was established.

The analysis of the parameters that characterize the status of the marine environment referred to the already known problems (e.g. eutrophication, distribution of non-indigenous species, over-exploitation of fish stocks) at the same time the status of various other characteristics are better in Estonian marine waters than elsewhere in the Baltic Sea (radioactive pollution levels are low, concentrations of contaminants mostly do not exceed the set threshold values, the status of biological diversity is good in most areas, the distribution and status of habitats is mostly good). In addition the analysis pointed out some fields where there is not possible to assess the status due to lack of data or expertise (e.g. the status and structure of sea-floor, distribution of underwater noise, the impact of marine litter to habitats and biota).


Amount of marine litter collected on 100m coastline. Photo: Ado Tikerpäe

The analysis of existing anthropogenic pressures showed that most of the pressures have local impact, influencing coastal areas, however, the intensity of using the marine areas in Estonia is lower compared to other Baltic Sea regions

An indicator inventory conducted for defining good environmental status (GES) of the Estonian marine area showed that from 132 analysed indicators only 83 indicators were suitable for determining GES out of which 60 indicated GES and 23 of them indicating non-GES in the Estonian marine area. The remaining 31 indicators were in the development stage but not yet ready for taking into use due to lack of data or defective evaluating system.

Socio-economic analysis

One of the most important outcomes of the initial assessment was that all existing data (the studies carried out so far) were gathered and an overview of existing statistics and of the possibilities and limitations of administrative databases were given.

It was recognized that numerous studies have been carried out concerning the use of sea, however, the studies concerning the costs or benefits of ecosystem services are mostly missing. The statistics related to the Estonian marine environment is not economically detailed enough and has not sufficient administrative-territorial division (it is preferable that the data is presented at parish level but currently the available data is at county level).

Projects that are related to implementation of MSFD


In order to supporting the implementation of the MSFD Estonia is participating in cooperation with Finland and Latvia in the project „Good environmental status through regional coordination and capacity building“ (GES-REG) in 2011 – 2013.

As a result of the project:

The analysis and recommendations from the GES-REG project will be taken into account when developing the monitoring programme for the Estonian marine area. Primarily, the recommendations on updating the current monitoring network and assessment methods as well as those on developing a joint scientifically sound and cost-effective monitoring and assessment scheme will be taken into account in order to ensure coherence in monitoring methods between neighbouring countries sharing the same marine region or sub-region. Also, in developing new indicators the results of pilot studies carried out under project GES-REG will be considered.


In addition, Estonia is currently participating in a project „Innovative approaches for marine biodiversity monitoring and assessment of conservation status of nature values in the Baltic Sea“ (MARMONI) (2010 – 2015), which aims at developing an innovative monitoring and assessment approach based on a joint set of marine biodiversity indicators. Also, the monitoring and assessment techniques will be tested in practice in the frame of this project. The MARMONI project focuses only on the MSFD qualitative descriptor 1 (biological diversity). In developing biological diversity indicators the current project will take the outcomes of the MARMONI project into account. This project is implemented in cooperation with Finland, Latvia and Sweden.

Development of the programme of measures for the Estonian marine area in compliance with the requirements of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, including feasibility study on using LNG as alternative ship fuel to reduce pollution.

The purpose of this project is to carry out the last three stages of the MSFD.

The project will result in the Estonian Marine Strategy, consisting of the proposals of the monitoring programme and the programme of measures complemented or developed under the project, taking into account various relevant national, regional (HELCOM) and EU level activities/projects/manuals.