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  Summary, conclusions and the future  
  Degree of nutrient enrichment  
  Direct effects  
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  Effectiveness of strategies and measures  
  The future  

The future

The experience from the years 1996 and 1997, when precipitation and runoff were very low and the 50% reduction target for nitrogen reduction was actually met, clearly shows that the reduction target of 50% in the input to the marine area considerably improves the quality status of the marine environment. The 50% reduction in nitrogen inputs, therefore, needs to be met in order to reduce eutrophication problems in marine areas.

Trends in nutrient reductions are on the right track, both with respect to the reduction of discharges, emissions and losses of nutrients to marine waters and to the quality of the marine environment. But the road to fulfilment of eutrophication quality criteria is long and winding. The existing criteria and the acceptable deviations from reference conditions should be regarded as a starting point. The variability found for different parameters is naturally large. It might therefore be reasonable to develop global or type-specific assessment criteria and, taking these as a starting point, to develop site-specific assessment criteria.

Focusing on national reductions in inputs is reasonable. But inputs from adjacent seas should also be taken into account. It is likely that these inputs will decrease. However, future enlargement of the European Union is likely to result in a development of the agricultural sector in Poland and the Baltic States. This may result in an increase in losses form cultivated farmland and eventually an increase in inputs to the Baltic Sea, and thus an increase in the inputs to Danish waters from the Baltic Sea.

However, nutrient enrichment, eutrophication and oxygen depletion are naturally occurring phenomena. It is the extent in space and the duration and strength that is affected by human activities. These undesirable effects in our marine waters can not be avoided, but the anthropogenically induced strengthening of these phenomena should be reduced.

The implementation of the Water Framework Directive has to take the Habitat Directive and EU Marine Strategy into account, especially with regard to the objectives on ecological and conservation status. If not, the management of the ecosystems and resources in the Danish marine water will face different protection levels and thus be complicated beyond reason.

It is likely that the implementation of the Water Framework Directive will lead to supplementary measures in catchment areas to specific coastal waters as vulnerable and sensitive estuaries and enclosed bays. The combination with legally binding quality objectives and integrated strategic management should make it possible to calculate backwards from the normative definition of good ecological status to concentrations, inputs, and other human activities affecting eutrophication status of marine waters. The key question in the future is whether diffuse sources can and will be adequately managed.

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Danish Environmental Protection Agency & National Environmental Research Institute • updated: