New legislation for the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and ground waters has recently been established in Italy. This law presents a new integrated approach, where all water bodies are considered as complex ecosystems to be studied in each of their components. The new concept of environmental quality of the water body, based on the ecological and chemical status, is also introduced. At the same time (i.e. the end of 2000), the European Community approved the European Water Framework Directive based on the same basic environmental concepts and criteria of the new Italian law. This paper analyses the important points and innovations required by the new Italian legislation for monitoring and classification of marine coastal waters. Details of definitions, parameters, analysis and monitoring programs are discussed. A comparison with the European Water Framework Directive is eventually given, underlining the specific characteristics of the Mediterranean sea, which have to be taken into consideration when applying the European Directive to this particular ecoregion.
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Vol. 9 • No. 1