Devotes, a project to investigate marine biodiversity and the environment of European seas

November 12, 2012

DEVOTES stands for "DEVelopment Of innovative Tools for understanding marine biodiversity and assessing good Environmental Status". DEVOTES is a four year project, which has a total budget of € 12 million, of which €9 million are funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union. DEVOTES is coordinated by Ángel Borja, from AZTI-Tecnalia, a Spanish technological centre, specialized in marine and food research.

More than 250 scientists, from 23 research centres of 12 European Union countries, as well as Ukraine, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and USA, will work in DEVOTES to improve the knowledge of human activities and global change impacts on marine biodiversity. The experts will analyze the existing indicators, and will develop new ones, to assess biodiversity in a harmonized way, within the four European Regional Seas (Baltic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea). The first meeting will be held, from 6th to 9th November, on the island of Mallorca (Spain).

The scientists will develop and validate innovative tools that relate to ecological theory and assessment in an integrated way. These include remote sensing, modelling, and genomics, among others. The goal is to advance the understanding of the changes in ecosystems and biodiversity. With the information and products generated during the DEVOTES project, the researchers will propose to the European authorities some measures contributing to the sustainable use of seas and marine resources. These measures will consider all stakeholders related to the marine environment, such as governments, regional sea conventions, sectors and industries (fishing, aquaculture, maritime transport, etc.).

The research team will be coordinated by Ángel Borja, PhD in Biology, principal investigator at the Marine Research Division of AZTI-Tecnalia. Dr Borja considers that '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'. In his opinion, the DEVOTES project 'will enable European policies that promote the sustainable development and the environmental status assessment of our seas'. Ángel Borja is convinced that DEVOTES 'will reinforce the cooperation among Member States and regional seas, both at EU level and internationally'.
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Objectives of the Marine Strategy

Framework Directive, by 2020

DEVOTES is related to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which established some objectives for marine environment protection and conservation, based upon the best scientific knowledge available. To achieve this goal by 2020, Member States must assess the marine environmental status of the seas, together with the impact of human activities.

The assessment includes 11 descriptors of the "health" status of the marine environment: biodiversity alterations, introduction of alien species, commercial fish, changes in food webs, marine eutrophication, seafloor integrity, hydrography, contamination in seas and seafood, marine litter and submarine noise. In addition, the main human activities and socio-economic factors must be considered.

After assessing the status, Member States will define the indicators that determine 'good environmental status', together with the actions to be implemented in order to achieve this objective by 2020. Member States must implement coordinated monitoring programmes, to periodically assess the marine environmental status, and to evaluate the actions taken. The results of DEVOTES will provide the necessary knowledge supporting these tasks in coming years.

Devotes webpage will be avalaible soon in: www.devotes-project.eu

Elhuyar Fundazioa

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