European Coastal Lagoons

A core feature of the EU Water Framework Directive is the definition and implementation of the Directive’s ecological status classification scheme determined by groups of biological elements, reference conditions for water types (river, lake, ground, transitional and coastal waters), and physico-chemical and hydro-morphological characteristics. This legislation, introduced in the year 2000 is central to water management across the European Community and will eventually, incorporate and supersede certain earlier EU Directives.


Among the different groups of water bodies, the case of coastal lagoons and their watersheds is complicated as they are susceptible to anthropogenic pollution fluxes and to eutrophication in particular because of their location and geomorphology.

An important factor from the point of view of characterisation of coastal lagoon systems, as a consequence of their situation between land and open sea, is the transitional nature of their water regimes. This is particularly so in enclosed seas (such as the Mediterranean, Baltic and Black Seas) where often, although not always, the lack of major tidal processes increases the impact of freshwater run-off from their catchment areas. Especially the Mediterranean this can be further complicated by the large meteorological variability of precipitation and thus freshwater run-off (from draught to flood conditions) making it particularly difficult to characterise these transitional waters (TW).

Historically these ecosystems are also of significant cultural importance and, in general, are of considerable ecological and economical value (tourism, fish farming and aquaculture etc.) and are thus areas of special interest to local and regional Authorities. Traditionally, they have often been the subject of considerable research and monitoring activities with the aim of understanding and protecting their biodiversity and economic sustainability.



An overview of ecological status, vulnerability and future perspectives of Europeanlarge shallow, semi-enclosed coastal systems, lagoons and transitional waters. Alice Newton, John Icely, Sónia Cristina, Ana Brito, Ana Cristina Cardoso, Franciscus Colijn, Simona Dalla Riva, Flemming Gertz, Jørgen Hansen, Marianne Holmer, Katia Ivanova, Erki Leppäkoski, Donata Melaku Canu, Chiara Mocenni, Stephen Mudge, Nicholas Murray, Morten Pejrup,Arturas Razinkovas, Sofia Reizopoulou, Angel Pérez-Ruzafa, Gerard Schernewski, Hendrik Schubert, Laishalla Seeram, Cosimo Solidoro, PierluigiViaroli, José-Manuel Zaldívar.Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science xxx, 1-28, (2013)