The extent to which Good Environmental Status has been achieved for cetaceans remains uncertain. The status of coastal bottlenose dolphin and minke whale are consistent with the achievement of Good Environmental Status in the Greater North Sea, but unknown/uncertain elsewhere. It is unknown if Good Environmental Status has been achieved for other species.
The UK has achieved its aim of Good Environmental Status for grey seals in the Greater North Sea and Celtic Seas. There was a significant increase in the abundance of harbour seals in West Scotland where the majority of harbour seals are located, but their status in other parts of the Celtic Seas is uncertain. Harbour seals in the Greater North Sea have not yet achieved Good Environmental Status.
The UK has achieved its aim of Good Environmental Status for non-breeding waterbirds in the Greater North Sea but not in the Celtic Seas. Breeding seabirds have not achieved Good Environmental Status.
Demersal fish communities are recovering from over-exploitation in the past, but Good Environmental Status has not yet been achieved in either the Greater North Sea or the Celtic Seas. A partial assessment of pelagic shelf fish status did not provide a clear result.
Prevailing environmental conditions are likely to be driving the observed changes in plankton communities but human activities cannot be ruled out and it is uncertain whether Good Environmental Status has been achieved.
The achievement of Good Environmental Status is uncertain for intertidal and soft sediment habitats. The levels of physical damage to soft sediment habitats are consistent with the achievement of Good Environmental Status in UK waters to the West of the Celtic Seas, but not in the Celtic Seas or in the Greater North Sea. Sublittoral rock and biogenic habitats have not yet achieved Good Environmental Status.
The UK has not yet achieved its aim of Good Environmental Status for non-indigenous species (NIS). Our ability to detect new NIS has improved but there has been no significant change in the number of new records of NIS made between 2003 and 2014.
The UK has achieved its aim of Good Environmental Status for some commercially exploited fish. In 2015, 53% of marine fish (quota) stocks were fished below maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Most national shellfish stocks have either not yet achieved Good Environmental Status or their status is uncertain. The percentage of quota stocks fished below MSY and the proportion of marine fish spawning stock biomasses capable of producing MSY have increased significantly since 1990.
The extent to which Good Environmental Status has been achieved is uncertain: plankton communities are changing; some fish communities are recovering, but others are not; breeding seabird populations are in decline; grey seal numbers are increasing and trends in cetacean populations are unclear. It is known that components of the marine food web are changing, but it is not clear how they are affecting each other.
The UK has largely achieved its aim of Good Environmental Status for eutrophication. A small number of eutrophication problems remain in coastal and estuarine waters, representing 0.03% of the UK Exclusive Economic Zone, and 0.41% of estuarine and coastal waters.
CHANGES IN HYDROGRAPHICAL CONDITIONS
The UK continues to achieve its aim of Good Environmental Status for hydrographical conditions.
The UK has largely achieved its aim of Good Environmental Status for contaminants. Concentration of hazardous substances and their biological effects are generally meeting agreed target thresholds. Highly persistent legacy chemicals are the cause of the few failures, mainly in coastal waters close to polluted sources.
CONTAMINANTS IN SEAFOOD
The UK has achieved its aim of Good Environmental Status for contaminants in seafood. There is a high level of compliance with agreed safety levels.
The UK has not yet achieved its aim of Good Environmental Status for litter. Beach litter levels in the Celtic Seas have remained largely stable since the assessment in 2012, whilst beach litter levels in the Greater North Sea have increased.
INPUT OF ANTHROPOGENIC SOUND
The achievement of Good Environmental Status for underwater noise in the UK is uncertain. Research and monitoring programmes established since 2012 have provided an improved understanding of the impacts of sound on marine ecosystems.
These arrows provide our best judgement of whether there has been progress towards achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) for the descriptor or ecosystem component concerned. In some cases, they reflect a situation where several indicator results reveal a mixed picture, with some showing an improving situation, some being stable and some showing a decline. In these cases, the arrow indicates our estimate of the combined position. Full details can be found in the individual indicator assessments.