A significant problem in most water quality monitoring programmes is the lack of routine data analysis and the reporting of information derived from such analysis, while data continues to accumulate in the drawers, files and computers of those responsible for monitoring. This classic problem is known as the "data-rich but information-poor syndrome"
(Ward et al. 1986).
Monitoring and the State-of-the-Art
Marine environmental monitoring is defined as a continuing program of measurement, analysis, synthesis and modelling that predicts and quantifies environmental conditions or contaminants (National Academy of Sciences 1990). Monitoring is performed in support of water quality management and is universally recognised as indispensable for effective management.
There are a number of important elements that are common to successful monitoring programmes. They must be well designed considering not only the where, what, and when of sampling, but also of why
(Ward et al. 1986). In addition, monitoring programmes must have the necessary resources to analyse the data collected and they must have the involvement of
trained scientists who have the tools and methodologies
available to use monitoring data efficiently and effectively to meet the information expectations placed on the data.
Looking to the future, monitoring systems are rapidly evolving due to a variety of pressures and technological innovations. Operational oceanography and
Global Ocean Observing Systems
(GOOS) are expected to have a significant influence on the structure of monitoring programmes as technological innovations are implemented into the routine monitoring of the marine environment. In addition, the European Union is mandating monitoring programmes to fulfil the objectives of the
Water Framework Directive.
While these developments will change the way we monitor the marine environment, the problem of extracting meaningful information will still be an important factor that requires trained individuals to carry out the