OSPAR this week...COBAM, Trend, MSFD, JAMP & IA2017 explained!

7 October 2015

OSPAR meetings this week.

This week sees the meetings of two of OSPAR's Intersessional Correspondence Groups (ICG). The ICG on Coordination of Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring (ICG-COBAM) is meeting in Trondheim whilst Ghent is the venue for the ICG on Trend Assessment of Annual Data on Dumping of Waste and Other Matter at Sea (ICG-Trend).

Deputy Secretary Emily Corcoran is in Trondheim this week for the meeting of ICG-COBAM. Co-convened by Sweden's Andrea Belgrano and Peter Heslenfeld of the Netherlands, this ICG is responsible for the coordination of OSPAR's biodiversity assessment and monitoring work under the guidance of the Biodiversity Committee. It responds to the requirements of the OSPAR Regional Plan on Marine Strategy Framework Directive Implementation and has a particular focus on the requirements of the MSFD in relation to biodiversity aspects (Descriptors 1, 2, 4 and 6).

Co-led by Belgium and Ireland, ICG-Trend focuses on agreed arrangements for a trend assessment of annual data on dumping of waste or other matter at sea from 2008- 2014 and the assessment of the impact caused by deposits of dredged material on the marine environment. This is aligned to Product B-6 of OSPAR Joint Assessment and Monitoring Programme (JAMP) 2014 – 2021. Update 2015 (Agreement 2014-02). ICG-Trend was set up in order to identify the best way forward in terms of approach and methodology, and to carry out the trend assessment needed for OSPAR's 2017 Intermediate Assessment (IA2017).

MSFD, JAMP and IA2017 explained

So by now you're most likely wondering what OSPAR has to do with the MSFD, what on earth JAMP is and why we're now talking about IA2017. It's true, OSPAR uses a lot of acronyms. Here goes...


The aim of the European Union's ambitious Marine Strategy Framework Directive is to protect more effectively the marine environment across Europe.The MSFD came into force in 2008 and in 2010 the Commission produced a set of detailed criteria and indicators to help Member States implement the MSFD. The Directive requires Member States sharing a marine region or sub-region to cooperate to ensure that the Directive’s objectives are achieved and to coordinate their actions on each step of the marine strategies using the mechanisms and structures of OSPAR. But remember, the MSFD only applies to EU member states and not all of OSPAR's Contracting Parties are EU members.


Monitoring and assessment are indispensable for the management of human activities in our seas. OSPAR Joint Assessment and Monitoring Programme (JAMP) 2014 – 2021. Update 2015 (Agreement 2014-02) describes the strategy, themes and products that OSPAR Contracting Parties are committed to deliver, through collaborative efforts in OSPAR, over the period 2014-2021 with reference to the relevant provisions of:

This JAMP follows and replaces the JAMP 2010-2014 which was adopted at the OSPAR Ministerial meeting in Bergen, September 2010. It focuses on the delivery of the Intermediate Assessment 2017 and the next OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR21).

The JAMP is described in two sections. Section I sets out the broad strategy and generally applicable provisions. Section II starts with the Theme ‘Ecosystem Approach and cross-cutting issues’ and then covers monitoring and assessment in relation to OSPAR’s thematic strategies.


Every 10 years, OSPAR produces a Quality Status Report (QSR) which provides policy makers and the wider public with a condensed overview of current knowledge on trends in pressures and impacts and the quality status of the North-East Atlantic and its Regions (i.e. the OSPAR Maritime Area). The QSRs are backed up by a series of thematic assessment reports prepared under the JAMP. These set out the scientific evidence for the QSR summary report and provide more detailed information for the interested reader. The assessment reports are prepared to deliver regional assessments, based, where possible, on collective monitoring and data collection undertaken by OSPAR countries, and on scientific literature relevant to the development of conclusions at the regional scale. The assessment reports also draw on information from other sources including the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and its expert groups, and organisations within the European Union, for example Eurostat and the European Environment Agency.

The Intermediate Assessment (which will be published in 2017 hence 'IA2017') is essentially a 'mini' QSR that will be published in the interim period between QSRs 2010 and 2021. It will also help those Contracting Parties who are also members of the EU report on their MSFD progress.