Open Access Article

Title: Evaluating the impact of nutrient abatement measures on the ecological status of coastal waters: a Bayesian network for decision analysis

Authors: Annukka Lehikoinen; Inari Helle; Eveliina Klemola; Samu Mäntyniemi; Sakari Kuikka; Heikki Pitkänen

Addresses: Fisheries and Environmental Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki c/o Kotka Maritime Research Institute, Heikinkatu 7, FI-48100, Kotka, Finland ' Fisheries and Environmental Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 65, FI-00014, Finland ' Fisheries and Environmental Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 65, FI-00014, Finland ' Fisheries and Environmental Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 65, FI-00014, Finland ' Fisheries and Environmental Management Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 65, FI-00014, Finland ' Marine Research Centre, State of the Marine Environment Unit, Finnish Environment Institute, P.O. Box 140, FI-00260, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract: Environmental managers must make decisions about complex problems that have a high degree of uncertainty such as, which nutrient abatement measure optimally improves the condition of an ecosystem. Although data and models that provide information on this subject exist, their knowledge may be fragmentary and difficult to interpret. We present a user-friendly modelling tool that integrates results of different models and data-analyses. It can be used by decision-makers for assessing the probabilities of different nutrient abatement scenarios for achieving specific targets set by the Water Framework Directive for Finnish coastal waters in the Gulf of Finland. The results suggest that significant reductions in nutrient loads are required to achieve good ecological status in Finnish coastal waters, and in the event of increased precipitation these targets may be less likely to be attained. Moreover, different approaches to the status classification lead to very different conclusions.

Keywords: Bayesian networks; Water Framework Directive; ecological status classification; ESC; multicriteria decision analysis; MCDA; nutrient abatement; uncertainty; eutrophication; Baltic Sea; Gulf of Finland; GoF; coastal waters; environmental management; ecosystems; modelling.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMCDM.2014.060426

International Journal of Multicriteria Decision Making, 2014 Vol.4 No.2, pp.114 - 134

Received: 03 Nov 2012
Accepted: 08 Apr 2013

Published online: 14 Apr 2014 *