Contamination of European seas continues

21 May 2019

Article: 53/2004

The European Environment Agency (EEA) reports that, despite some progress, continued contamination of Europe’s seas, by synthetic substances and heavy metals, continues to be a large-scale problem.

According to a newly published EEA report, between 75% and 96% of the assessed area of Europe’s regional seas, and 75% of the north-east Atlantic Ocean, are reported to have large-scale contamination problems. Contaminants include the insecticide DDT, cadmium and mercury which, although they appear to be declining, do not meet agreed thresholds.

The EEA assessment ‘Contaminants in Europe's seas’ is the first attempt to map contamination in Europe’s regional seas in a consistent manner and check the trends in long‑established hazardous substances. The assessment is based on publicly available monitoring data, primarily collected in the context of the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The report states the way marine pollution is addressed needs to change profoundly, as many persistent substances remain in marine ecosystems, so avoiding their use in the first place is essential for reaching long‑term policy commitments.

Source: EEA, 15 May 2019