Contamination of European seas continues despite some positive progress

There is a shared vision to achieve clean, non toxic seas but their contamination with synthetic substances as well as heavy metals continues to be a large-scale problem in Europe. According to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report, published today, between 75 and 96 % of the assessed area of Europe’s regional seas have a contamination problem.

The EEA assessment ‘Contaminants in Europe's seas’ is the first attempt to map contamination in Europe’s regional seas in a consistent manner and check the trends in long‑established hazardous substances. The assessment is based on publicly available monitoring data, primarily collected in the context of the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The report shows that all four regional seas in Europe have a large-scale contamination problem, ranging from 96 % of the assessed area in the Baltic Sea and 91 % in the Black Sea, to 87 % in the Mediterranean and 75 % in the North-East Atlantic Ocean. The coverage of the assessed area is mostly good but it varies considerably between the four seas and remains limited in the offshore waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Overall, contamination is declining in all four seas, though the insecticide DDT appears to be at best stabilising in the Mediterranean Sea. The concentrations of some well-known contaminants, such as cadmium and mercury, appear to be declining but in many areas not enough to meet agreed thresholds.


The full article can be found at

The EEA assessment report ‘Contaminants in Europe's seas: Moving towards a clean, non-toxic marine environment’ can also be found at