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The aim is to develop decision-making tools for integrated environmental monitoring for the MSFD to support management of human activities and their effects in EU marine waters and scope the potential for joint programs (within and between Member States). Tools include GIS planning and decision-making tools.

Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Nature protection
Scientific Research
Type of Issue: 
Ecosystem-based approach
Environment aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Implementation context

The Black Sea Industrial Symbiosis Platform was developed in the frame of IRIS-SES project - Integrated Regional monitoring Implementation Strategy in the South European Seas. The overall goal of the project is to develop a new concept and decision-making tools for integrated environmental monitoring for the MSFD to support management of human activities and their effects in EU marine waters, based on existing sampling across various disciplines (physical, chemical, biological, etc) and scope the potential for joint programs (within and between Member States).


IRIS-SES “Intelligent tools” includes a GIS planning tool and a decision-making tool.

The GIS rationale is to develop a basic set of information layers that will be used as generic information for the 11 MSFD Descriptors, in-deep approach for selected Descriptors and incorporate intelligent tools specially designed for those Descriptors.


Main objectives are:

  • Assessment of  Environmental status  related to  Eutrophication and Pollution
  • Calculation and visualization of  relevant Parameters  and Indices
  • Addressed to scientists, decision makers, not necessarily experts on these issues
  • Unified platform for  Western, Eastern Mediterranean and Black Seas


Dedicated decision support and decision making tool was developed based on DeCyDe methodology – DeCyDe-for IRIS that support the decision of the parameters to be monitored and the methods and infrastructure needed, the coast involved for each selection and other significant indicators/ parameters involved in the decision making for optimum marine monitoring practices, per descriptor, in order to serve the needs for GES  of MSFD.


GIS planning tools includes many scales and levels on which the MSFD Directive has been built on such as characteristics level (biological features, physicochemical features), pressure and impact, indicator/threshold, spatial (location of monitoring stations) and temporal (Frequency-periodicity) across regions-subregions-countries.

Adaptation and development of GIS intelligent tools was based on:

  • Toolboxes have been initially developed as a desktop extension for ArcGIS version 10.2
  • Contain a set of customized commands that allow users to create grids  (raster dataset) of the relevant Parameters and Indices
  • Visualization according  to predefined thresholds
  • Starting point is a biochemical dataset in a common Excel file format.
  • Minimum software requirements : a licensed copy of the ArcGIS 10.2.x platform as well as the Spatial Analyst extension

The tool DeCyDe-for –IRIS developed for project focused on Descriptor 5 and 8 from MSFD (Eutrophication and Pollutants in the environment) and it is based on the methodology DeCyDe, developed by ISOTECH ltd. DeCyDe methodology incorporates principles from multi-criteria analysis, from public policies approaches, basic logic principles from Fuzzy theory (the theory of graded concepts, where everything is a matter of degree). It is spreadsheet orientated decision support method including a flexible and easy to use tool. DeCyDe is structured in three preparatory, self-contained and interrelated steps and in a final stage where the actual decision support work is done. The steps are:

  • Step 1: The Data Base
  • Step 2: The setting of criteria/parameters: addressing the multiple dimensions and.or persperctives of each case and The “Scoring”  of the criteria/ parameters
  • Step 3 – The Weighting – the criteria are organized in matrices, based on Saaty’s concept of comparing couples. By increasing the level of actual participation, and by anhancing conversation among conflicting actors (decision makers and stakeholders) that are involved in the process.

Main outputs/Results

The GIS rationale was to develop:

  • a basic set of information layers that will be used as generic information for the 11 MSFD Descriptors:
  • in-deep approach for selected Descriptors
  • incorporate intelligent tools specially designed for those Descriptors. The eleven MSFD Descriptors were addressed, but to different level of detail. A set of baseline thematic layers common to all Descriptor was developed as follow: background features/ main geographic layers, ocean and atmospheric processes. In-depth information for a number of Descriptors was designed, providing a solid GIS platform. Specific intelligent tools were integrated accordingly:
  • Eutrophication toolbox that includes tools for nutrient levels and balance (Si:N:P), nutrients spatial distribution and temporal trends,  TRIX, Eutrophication index
  • Contaminants toolbox (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, PAHs etc.)– number of contaminants that have exceeded regulatory levels, frequency of regulatory levels being exceeded

In preparation of the DeCyDe-4-IRIS regional meetings, it was developed the DeCyDe-4-IRIS Toolbox, a suite of tools that were necessary for the implementation of the workshop, and comprising of: (1) the scoreboards for each region, i.e. for southeastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea (2) the DeCyDe-4-IRIS Self-Assessment Tools (3) the source-pollutant matrix and (4) a list of possible abatement measures per sector.

Using the information that each country provided in the factsheets, specifically the background and upper limits and any existing scales for assessing GES, it was developed the DeCyDe-4- IRIS Self-Assessment Tools, specifically for each country. The excel-based scoreboards use the approach of scoring through ranges to help countries, or regions within countries, visualize the current situation with regards to meeting the goals of good environmental status. The ranges for the scoring are identified by a group of experts from each country, based on national, EU and International Standards, upper and lower limits and GES targets.

The source-pollutant matrix is an excel-based matrix that, for each of the parameters that characterize Descriptors 5 and 8/9, identifies the main sources of pollution, based on literature and bibliographic references. The matrix was used alongside the completed self-assessment tool to assist decision-makers and stakeholders to identify the most likely pollution sources (main polluting sectors) for each of the parameters where the self-assessment tool demonstrated that there was room for improvement.

For each of the main sectors that could result in the discharge of pollutants related to Descriptors 5, 8 and 9 in the marine environment, it was developed a list of possible abatement measures. The DeCyDe-4-IRIS approach aims to assist decision makers to easily pick out those measures that could be implemented in their country or region, based on the previous identification of main pollutant sources.


The GIS tools and decision-making tool can be improved and adapted to another sub-basin.

Contact person

Dr. Kalliopi Pagou (Project Coordinator)

Hellenic Center for Marine Research


Dr. Luminita Lazar

National Institute for Marine Research and Dvelopment “Grigore Antipa” Constanta

Responsible entity

Coordinator: Hellenic Center for Marine Research

Romanian partner: National Institute for Marine Research and Dvelopment “Grigore Antipa” Constanta, Romania