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Scientists from 16 countries have kicked off a new EU-funded project that explores marine biodiversity and the environmental status of seas in Europe. DEVOTES ('Development of innovative tools for understanding marine biodiversity and assessing good environmental status') has clinched almost EUR 9 million in funding under the Environment Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
Led by the Spanish Marine and Food Technological Centre AZTI-Tecnalia, more than 20 scientists from 23 research centres in the EU, Asia and North America are working together to improve our understanding of how marine biodiversity is affected by human activities and global changes. Under the plan, the team will examine existing indicators and develop new ones in order to evaluate biodiversity in a harmonised way. The targets are the European regional seas, namely the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic seas, and the Atlantic Ocean.
In the period 2012 from to 2016, the DEVOTES consortium will develop and validate sophisticated tools that relate to ecological theory and assessment in an integrated way. Examples of these tools include remote sensing, modelling and genomics.
The objective of the project is to improve knowledge of the changes in ecosystems and biodiversity. The information and products obtained by the team will give them the means to recommend to European decision-makers various measures that contribute to the sustainable use of seas and marine resources. The DEVOTES partners say the measures will take into account all stakeholders related to the marine environment, including governments, regional sea conventions, sectors and industries like maritime transport, fishing and aquaculture.
'It is of strategic importance to know the main human pressures affecting the marine environment and biodiversity, because this knowledge is necessary for their protection,' said project coordinator Dr Ángel Borja, principal investigator at the Marine Research Division at AZTI-Tecnalia. 'The project will enable European policies that promote the sustainable development and the environmental status assessment of our seas and it will reinforce the cooperation among Member States and regional seas, both at EU level and internationally.'
The DEVOTES project is associated with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Directive 2008/56/EC), which targets marine environment protection and conservation. In order to obtain their target within the next eight years, the EU Member States will use what scientific knowledge is available to evaluate marine environment protection and conservation along with the effect of human activities, such as changes in food webs, marine eutrophication, hydrography and introduction of alien species. It should be noted that socioeconomic factors should be considered as well.
Ultimately, the DEVOTES project will produce the information that EU Member States need to follow through on the key tasks for conserving marine biodiversity. Source: European Union
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