The 4th World Conference on Marine Biodiversity (WCMB) took place in Montréal, Canada this year. Running from 13–16 May, WCMB is the major focal assembly to share research outcomes, management and policy issues, and discussions on the role of biodiversity in sustaining ocean ecosystems.
The ATLAS symposium on North Atlantic Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas, Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and High Seas Marine Protected Areas in a changing ocean was held on 12 May. The symposium attracted approximately 50 participants. Presentations centred around: the status of knowledge in biodiversity and biogeography in deep-sea ecosystems of the North Atlantic; transfer of massages to policy makers; the role of area-based management tools under changing environmental conditions and opportunities for Blue Growth in ATLAS selected case studies.
Presentations were followed by breakout group discussions on the following topics:
- Identification of Blue Growth Areas; Limits and tensions to Blue Growth – How do we ensure more stringent environmental impact assessment?
- ATLAS’s approach to standardise the “identification” of VMEs in North Atlantic and across case studies
- Adaptability to environmental change and creation of a more flexible suite of area-based management tools. Planning in the face of uncertainty.
ATLAS and its sister H2020 projects SponGES and MERCES, also had a session on ‘Ocean Basin Scale Research’ running throughout the week and hosted a booth for visitors. The session was very successful, attracting several WCMB participants (up to 50 people at times). The session was chaired by Prof J Murray Roberts (University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) and Dr Ellen Kenchington (Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada). Presentations covered a wide spectrum, incorporating works on: the restoration of coralligenous habitats in shallow-water regions of the Mediterranean Sea, the role of environmental parameters in the distribution of deep-sea sponge communities in North-East Atlantic and Arctic regions, biodiversity and biogeography of seamounts and the role of deep-sea sponges as ecosystem engineers.
To read more about ATLAS activities at WCMMB and the ATLAS Science–Policy meeting in Ottawa, please see our press release here
By: Dr Georgios Kazanidis BSc (Hons), MRes, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate in the University of Edinburgh (ATLAS project)
The ATLAS Team at WCMB, Montréal (Credit: J Murray Roberts)