Policy-orientated marine Environmental Research for the Southern European Seas
By using Europe's Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) as a foundation, PERSEUS is developing and initiating a marine research governance framework that unites scientific research with policy development. PERSEUS has introduced a collaborative framework involving scientists, policymakers and the wide public, to share knowledge and promote collective decision-making. PERSEUS is also inherently relevant to other EU and national policies and actions in both Mediterranean and Black Seas.
In the last years, PERSEUS has gained significant new knowledge on the current environmental and socio-economic situation. First it identified lack of data, lack of time-series, and poorly described processes in the Southern European Seas (SES). It defined the sampling strategy to address these gaps in data and knowledge. It realised 22 integrated, multi-disciplinary experiments in the open sea and coastal areas and worked on the assessment of the cost of degradation on ecosystem goods and services (e.g. fisheries and aquaculture, maritime transport, tourism, hydrocarbon extraction desalinization etc.). Another key result is the creation of
a complete inventory of the observing systems in the SES which identified gaps in coverage (geographic and temporal), in types of observations. This will lead to an overall strategy for the observing systems to be used for MSFD monitoring. PERSEUS started the upgrading of 12 fixed stations with new biogeochemical & acoustic sensors, supported the launching of 14 Argo floats and proposed new technologies to be used (gliders, VMS and CPR-MED), through cross border, cooperative 'projects'. Numerical E2E 'Ecosystem/End-to-End' perspective models were established and implemented in the SES regional basins, various data were collected.
A critical review of the Initial Assessments has led to the identification of the approaches and assessment elements used in the EU countries. PERSEUS also adopted a gap scoring system quantifying the main types of gaps and indicating related scientific priorities. The project setup 5 stakeholder platforms, one for each regional Pilot Case, that have actively engaged almost 100 policymakers ensuring that the adaptive policy framework is developed in response to specific needs. The scientific and operational needs of a new vessel have been identified through a participatory approach involving the consortium and relevant stakeholders while the preliminary design of the vessel has been defined. Two citizen-science campaigns were developed: the Jellyfish spotting campaign (as a joint action with other research projects) and the Marine LitterWatch campaign, enhancing the initiative of the European Environment Agency.
PERSEUS reviewed the current knowledge on the ecological status of the SES along with socio-economic analysis of the related human activities. The results were combined in a unique Umbrella Workshop based on regional approaches. An overall report identifying pressures and their impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems in the SESs has been produced while the most relevant gaps in knowledge and data towards achieving GES were identified and prioritized. Filling these gaps has started through multi-disciplinary experiments, in-situ monitoring, remote sensing observing systems and the use of E2E models. A methodology for assessing anthropogenic pressure indicators using Remote Sensing and models is developed. Consistent economic and social analysis of the use of the SES waters and an assessment of the cost of degradation has been performed as a first step towards the development of the Adaptive Policy Framework.