Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Quality Status Report?
The Quality Status Report (QSR) 2023 will provide the most comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the status of the North-East Atlantic for the period 2009-2021. It aims to increase our knowledge and understanding of the marine environment through OSPAR’s monitoring and assessment process. It will look at both the current state of the marine environment and ecosystems, and at human activities benefiting from the marine environment and interacting with it. The ultimate objective of the QSR 2023 is to provide the necessary scientific knowledge to identify the priority elements for actions to achieve OSPAR’s vision of a clean, healthy and biologically diverse North-East Atlantic Ocean, which is productive, used sustainably and resilient to climate change and ocean acidification.The Quality Status Report (QSR) 2023 will provide the most comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the status of the North-East Atlantic for the period 2009-2021. It aims to increase our knowledge and understanding of the marine environment through OSPAR’s monitoring and assessment process. It will look at both the current state of the marine environment and ecosystems, and at human activities benefiting from the marine environment and interacting with it. The ultimate objective of the QSR 2023 is to provide the necessary scientific knowledge to identify the priority elements for actions to achieve OSPAR’s vision of a clean, healthy and biologically diverse North-East Atlantic Ocean, which is productive, used sustainably and resilient to climate change and ocean acidification.
Where do we assess?
Who is involved?
The QSR 2023 is an ambitious collective endeavour involving the whole OSPAR network. The 16 Contracting Parties to the OSPAR Convention are the primary contributors, nominating more than 400 experts to lead on the delivery of the various assessments which form the scientific bedrock of the QSR. The contributions of OSPAR Observers from intergovernmental partner organisations and blue economy and environmental non-governmental organisations help to close any information gaps in data, a crucial aspect of this assessment and monitoring process. The OSPAR Secretariat oversees the coordination of the process.
The QSR 2023 is delivered as a part of OSPAR’s joint monitoring and assessment programme (JAMP – OSPAR Agreement 2014-02 product A2. It is further defined in the QSR 2023 Guidance Document – OSPAR Agreement 2019-02). The main building blocks of the QSR 2023 will be OSPAR assessments on specific topics as defined in the JAMP. It will also draw on relevant assessments and reports from Contracting Parties, regional organisations including the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), the Arctic Council, and the United Nations among others.
Why does OSPAR perform assessments of the North-East Atlantic?
Scientific knowledge is indispensable as the basis for the sustainable use of the marine environment and as such is at the core of OSPAR’s mandate.
The OSPAR Convention Article 6 sets out the obligation “The Contracting Parties shall, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention, in particular as provided for in Annex IV:
(a) undertake and publish at regular intervals joint assessments of the quality status of the marine environment and of its development, for the maritime area or for regions or sub-regions thereof;
(b) include in such assessments both an evaluation of the effectiveness of the measures taken and planned for the protection of the marine environment and the identification of priorities for action.
OSPAR Commission agreed in 2017 (OSPAR 17/19/1 §3.32) to prepare the next Quality Status Report (QSR) for publication at OSPAR 2023.
In carrying out the QSR 2023, OSPAR is pursuing a number of key objectives:
- To fulfil a requirement set out in the OSPAR Convention, which requires Contracting Parties, through the Joint Assessment and Monitoring Programme, to cooperate in both monitoring and assessment of our seas
- To assess the environmental status of the North-East Atlantic against the objectives of the North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy 2030
- To gather/produce scientific knowledge
- To identify possible new threats to the marine environment of the OSPAR Maritime Area
- To deliver regionally on cross-cutting issues such as climate change or ocean acidification
- To assess the effectiveness of OSPAR actions and measures
- To identify the priority elements for actions to achieve OSPAR’s vision, by using the findings to develop the tasks under the North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy 2030
What do we assess?
The Quality Status Report is an holistic assessment that covers the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic and the pressures from human activities impacting it, as well as the benefits which humans derive from a healthy and thriving ocean. It will bring together over 130 individual OSPAR assessments that address marine species and the habitats they depend on, the intensity of human activities in the sea and pressures they result including radioactive substances, offshore oil and gas industries, renewable energy generation, tourism and many more. Pollution from nutrients and hazardous substances, and other pressures such as marine litter, underwater noise are also addressed. Finally, the QSR 2023 will consider the impacts of climate change on the North-East Atlantic.
What are the components of the QSR?
The QSR 2023 will comprise several components that bring together a large amount of information from different sources through a structure of increased integration. In other words, the QSR 2023 could be compared to a ‘pyramid’ with data as its foundation, and different assessments processing and analysing the data and information being brought together, ultimately into the Synthesis Report (Figure 1).
What is the DAPSIR framework?
The DAPSIR framework is a way to describe causal relationships between society and the environment. It outlines the causal links between drivers, activities, pressures, environmental status, impacts, and responses in a management setting (Atkins et al. 2011). In the context of the QSR 2023 the DAPSIR framework is applied for the thematic assessments which are designed to bring together a wide set of information about a particular topic. In other words, implementing the DAPSIR framework is a way to better understand the big picture and factor in socioeconomic aspects when assessing the state of the marine environment in the North‑East Atlantic. OSPAR is using this framework to structure information. Applying the DAPSIR framework in the thematic assessments will allow for more consistent comparisons of information between topics to avoid siloed assessments and clearly link for example, a pressure information to status information at a framework level even if it is not possible at this time to describe all links in a quantitative manner.
How do OSPAR Contracting Parties who are also EU member states coordinate monitoring and assessment for the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)?
For Contracting Parties that are also European Union (EU) member states, the QSR 2023 will provide a valuable contribution to their obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, particularly in relation to the assessments required under MSFD Article 8 (assessment of the current environmental status of Member states' marine waters and of the predominant pressures and impacts upon them). To ensure the efficient use of Contracting Parties’ resources and avoid duplication, the QSR will, wherever possible, deliver outputs that are compatible with MSFD reporting requirements in order to supplement the reporting efforts of Member states in 2024, acknowledging that the QSR 2023:
- is an OSPAR product delivered for all OSPAR Contracting Parties;;
- covers areas beyond EU Member State marine waters;
- does not cover all aspects needed for MSFD reporting (e.g. not all MSFD Descriptors are assessed); and
- may cover aspects beyond the topics relevant for the MSFD.
When will the results of the QSR be available?
The results of the QSR, in the form of different assessments, will be agreed for publication during the OSPAR Commission meetings of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 as the QSR process runs over several years. It will come to an end in 2023, when the Synthesis Report will be agreed for publication by the OSPAR Commission in early summer 2023.
Where are the results available?
The QSR 2023 will be an online publication, with assessments presented through a dedicated section of the OSPAR Assessment Portal, https://oap.ospar.org/.
The Synthesis Report, thematic assessments, indicator assessments and other assessments will be published via the online interface, supplemented with images, interactive charts/figures, and maps. There will be clear cross linkages made between corresponding elements within the QSR with links to the OSPAR Data and Information Management System, https://odims.ospar.org/ for access to the data underpinning the assessments. The synthesis report will be available in both English and French.