The Swedish OSPAR waters were assessed by applying the OSPAR Common Procedure for the time period 2006 – 2014. The Swedish parts of Skagerrak, Kattegat and the Sound constitute the outer part of the transition zone between the estuarine Baltic Sea and the oceanic North Sea and were investigated for nutrients, chlorophyll-a,oxygen, macrophytes, phytoplankton and zoobenthos. The conclusion from the overall assessment of the Swedish OSPAR waters was that only Skagerrak open sea could be classified as a Non-Problem Area and all other assessment units were classified as Problem Areas.
Atmospheric input of nitrogen significantly decreased in both Skagerrak and Kattegat and the land based input of total nutrients also decreased in Skagerrak, Kattegat as well as the Sound. However, the short-term trend of nitrogen input to the Sound was positive. Skagerrak is governed by trans-boundary transports from the North Sea of mainly nitrogen but also phosphorus. Kattegat receives trans-boundary nutrients from both the Baltic Sea through the Sound and from Skagerrak and transports nutrients towards the coast and the western part of the basin.
Overall, concentrations of DIN, DIP, TN and chlorophyll-a decreased in most areas, however, no significant trends were found for DIP. Increasing concentrations were found in silicate, POC and TP. The Secchi depth increased in most areas. Oxygen deficiency was mainly a problem in the fjords and the Kattegat open sea.
In Skagerrak coastal waters winter nutrients were only elevated in the fjords. Concentrations of DIN generally decreased significantly and there were tendencies of decreasing DIP. This pattern was also supported by the total nitrogen while total phosphorus increased. Secchi depth was improving and there was a significant positive trend of increasing depths. However, zoobenthos were still in bad condition and phytoplankton indicator species were often elevated. Chlorophyll-a concentrations were generally decreasing but still elevated in the inner coastal waters. There were also problems with algal toxins such as DST (Diarrhetic Shellfish Toxin) and PST (Paralystic Shellfish Toxin) infections in the area. According to the OSPAR classification scheme, a unit with no evident increased nutrient enrichment can be classified as a Problem Area but the cause might be due to trans-boundary transport from adjacent areas.
In the open area of Kattegat there were still problems with oxygen deficiency, especially in the southern parts, even though the trend was significantly positive for the assessment period 2006 – 2014. Concentrations of chlorophyll-a and DIN decreased significantly, however, DIN levels were still generally elevated, especially in the southern parts of Kattegat while DIP was closer to the assessment level.
In Kattegat coastal waters winter nutrients were elevated in all assessment units, except from the inner coastal waters, even though there was a general pattern of decreasing going trends. Chlorophyll-a was mainly elevated in the Sound and the estuaries. Secchi depth is generally improving and a significant increase was seen in the Sound. Also in Kattegat, zoobenthos were in bad condition and phytoplankton indicator species were often elevated.