The 3rd ATLAS science-policy meeting took place in Brussels on Wednesday 22 May 2019. The meeting aimed to link research and policy, establish an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders and potential users of ATLAS results, and to provide policymakers and stakeholders with timely and relevant scientific knowledge in support of policy developments.
Presentations from the ATLAS team included; ATLAS overview (Prof. Murray Roberts, ATLAS Coordinator, UEDIN, UK); willingness to pay for cold-water coral protection (Prof. Claire Armstrong, UiT, Norway); exposing young audiences to (marine) science and effective means to do so (Dr Hermione Cockburn, Dynamic Earth, UK); effective knowledge sharing & visualising project data using the European Marine Observation Data Network (Dr Kate Larkin, Seascape Belgium / EMODnet Secretariat).
An accurate understanding of changing ocean circulation and its impact on habitat suitability is key for effective ocean management and marine spatial planning. ATLAS results are now feeding into projections of climate-induced changes that will affect commercially important fish species in the North Atlantic. Dr Carlos Domínguez-Carrió (IMAR-UAz, Portugal) highlighted ATLAS’ progress to identify new species and the presence of new benthic communities. This linked to work on Good Environmental Status (GES) for the deep-sea, which was presented by Dr Cova Orejas (IEO, Spain). Participants were interested in what positive actions could be taken to improve and restore GES in the deep sea. Restoration of habitat is feasible, but it is challenging in the deep-sea and takes a long time. The ATLAS team were pleased to report that, in terms of fish species, protection measures have improved GES, demonstrating the progress that can be made through effective collaboration.
Prof. David Johnson (Seascape Consultants Ltd, UK) rounded off the meeting with a short presentation on ATLAS engagement with Blue Growth industry sectors and emerging policy messages, based on the results of a recent study carried out with industry representatives. ATLAS has sought to gauge industry reactions to a changing Atlantic covering ten Blue Growth sectors. Specific points raised by participants included the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas, the pros and cons of hydrocarbon platform decommissioning, and geographic variations in societal values. ATLAS will further analyse the mechanisms and timeliness of how to incorporate issues such as these when informing EU policy.
By: Vikki Gunn & David Jonson (Seascape Consultants Ltd, UK).