TThe international IGBP Land Ocean Interaction Coastal Zone (LOICZ) programme has, over the last few years, been developing approaches to try and link C-N-P biogeochemical budgetary information at global and major regional scales to a coastal classification system (based on suites of environmental and human-dimension variables). Such an approach, following a common series of protocols, identifies the information required for the assessment of fluxes from watersheds to coastal waters, uses a set of standard verified models, and combines them with cluster analysis - typology that is applicable at the scales needed by the assessment. In other words it is based on a series of standardised methodologies (Gordon 1996 - Biogeochemical budgeting approach; Maxwell and Buddemeier 2002 - Typological classification) that subsequently allow resulting flux estimates to be compared at local, regional or continental-global scale.

Clearly the use of verified and standardised methodologies needs a sufficient density of good quality long-term data; this can best be provided by networking of researchers dealing with coastal fluxes and biogeochemical processes. This approach has been successfully applied by LOICZ for their assessments of nutrient fluxes at global scale where some 170 site estimates have at presently been made, with however, relative few locations in the Mediterranean. The EU ELOISE cluster is another example where river basin coastal zone expertise has been drawn effectively together.

To improve both the coverage for the LOICZ regional assessment and especially for the implementation of the EU WFD (including the assessment of other contaminants), a much greater density of sites will be required. At present three active networks exist in this southern European region (PNEC, LaguNet, and ESCON) which are assessing C,N,P fluxes at local to regional scales: PNEC at French coastal systems; LaguNet at Italian lagoon systems, and ESCON at a selected Mediterranean transect of west -east sites in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece. The objective in each case is to estimate the inputs of nutrients to coastal lagoon systems (sites of high economic value and under strong anthropogenic pressure) and to relate the observed nutrient loads to environmental and anthropogenic forcing functions that exist in river catchments delivering to the coast.

A long-term goal is to arrive at a detailed coverage of both the east and west Mediterranean basins, including through collaboration with North African scientific Institutes. Pragmatically this could be achievable if a Southern European network was initiated made up of a cluster of networks (or Associations) having national or regionally specific goals but with a core component of common objectives at the Mediterranean scale (including the Black Sea), and using a series of standardised validated methodologies such as the LOICZ approach. For EU Member States and Candidate Countries the need to implement the WFD will tend to the harmonisation of monitoring programmes and reporting, and this in turn will lead to the harnessing of national scientific research programmes in support of information needs for the Directive.