Saving Europe's Coastal Waters

Friday, January 11, 2002
Eutrophication, the ageing of marine waters by biological enrichment, is caused by the increased amount of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients arising from human activities. This overloading of nutrients is a major problem in many European coastal areas as it causes a series of undesirable effects.

Because the excessive growth of plankton algae increases the amount of organic matter settling at the bottom of marine waters, the increase in oxygen consumption can lead to oxygen depletion and changes in the community structure or the death of benthic fauna. Bottom-dwelling fish may also die. Eutrophication also promotes the risk of harmful algal blooms that may cause discolouration of the water, foam formation, and the death of benthic fauna and wild or caged fish. There is also an increased risk of the poisoning of animals and humans by algal toxins. The whole Baltic Sea area is affected by eutrophication, although, in the Greater North Sea, eutrophication primarily affects only the coastal zone. Eutrophication is also a problem in the estuaries and coastal lagoons of the Irish Sea and in the Mediterranean, as well as in the Adriatic and northern Aegean Sea. A new report, which evaluates the causes, state and development of eutrophication in European coastal waters, as well as identifying areas where more monitoring data are needed to improve the assessment, is now available. Source: HK Law

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