This European Union Horizon 2020 funded project creates a dynamic new partnership between multinational industries, SMEs, governments, and academia to assess the Atlantic's deep-sea ecosystems and Marine Genetic Resources to create the integrated and adaptive planning products needed for sustainable Blue Growth.

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Changing environmental conditions and human activities have major impacts on the distribution and sustainability of living marine resources. This poses a serious challenge to the business and policy communities seeking to balance societal needs with environmental sustainability. 

Large-scale ocean observation is needed to improve our understanding of how deep ocean ecosystems function, their roles as reservoirs of biodiversity and genetic resources, and their health under future scenarios of climate change and human use. 

ATLAS is providing essential new knowledge of deep ocean ecosystems in the North Atlantic. Our ambitious project is exploring the world of deep-sea habitats (200-2000 m) where the greatest gaps in our understanding lie and certain populations and ecosystems are under pressure.  

ATLAS will provide the first coherent, integrated basin-scale assessment of Atlantic deep-water ecosystems and their Blue Growth potential.


 1. Inform ocean management and governance to preserve marine resources and unlock their potential for the sustainable production of new products and industrial applications.

2. Improve cooperation among EU Member States and International partner countries with respect to Atlantic ecosystem based research.

3. Contribute to the implementation of EU Maritime Policies including the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation.

4. Contribute to the implementation of international agreements to conserve Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas and High Seas Marine Protected Areas.

ATLAS ambitions


This four-year project started in May 2016 and aims to gather diverse new information on sensitive Atlantic ecosystems (including Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and Ecologically or Biologically Sensitive Areas) to produce a step-change in our understanding of their connectivity, functioning and responses to future changes in human use and ocean climate. This is possible because ATLAS takes innovative approaches to its work and interweaves its objectives by placing business, policy and socio-economic development at the forefront with science.

ATLAS not only uses trans-Atlantic oceanographic arrays to understand and predict future change in living marine resources, but enhances their capacity with new sensors to make measurements directly relevant to ecosystem function. Research activities are focussing on waters 200-2000 m deep, where the greatest gaps in our understanding lie and certain populations and ecosystems are known to be under pressure. 25 deep sea cruises are already planned with more in development and several already having taken place in 2016. These cruises are providing data to study a network of 12 case studies spanning the Atlantic from the LoVe observatory located off the Lofoten and VesterĂ¥len islands, Norway to the Davis Straight, Eastern Artic. Ecosystems to be studied include sponge, cold-water coral, seamount and mid-ocean ridge systems.

An annual ATLAS Science-Policy Panel in Brussels will take the latest results and Blue Growth opportunities identified from the project directly to policy makers. ATLAS has a strong trans-Atlantic partnership in Canada and the USA where both government and academic partners will interact closely with ATLAS through shared cruises, staff secondments, scientific collaboration and work to inform Atlantic policy development. ATLAS has been created and designed with our north American partners to foster trans-Atlantic collaboration and the wider objectives of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation.