Seascape Consultants undertake research, leadership and consultancy across a range of marine disciplines. In addition to commissioned research and individual studies, our current projects include:
Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI): Since 2013, Seascape has provided overall coordination and a Secretariat team for GOBI, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), via the International Climate Initiative. GOBI is an international partnership advancing the scientific basis for conserving biological diversity in the deep seas and open oceans. It aims to help countries, as well as regional and global organisations, to use and develop data, tools, and methodologies to identify ecologically significant areas in the oceans, with an initial focus on areas beyond national jurisdiction. For more information please go to www.gobi.org
iAtlantic: An integrated assessment of ecosystems in space and time. iAtlantic is a 4-year multidisciplinary H2020 research programme seeking to assess the health of deep-sea ecosystems across the full span of the Atlantic Ocean. It aims to deliver knowledge that is critical for responsible and sustainable management of Atlantic Ocean resources in an era of unprecedented global change. Seascape leads iAtlantic’s work on Capacity Building, Stakeholder Engagement, Outreach and Exploitation. www.iatlantic.eu
Other projects and studies undertaken in 2013 -2021
Developing a Regional Environmental Management Plan for the Atlantic Seascape was contracted by the European Commission to support the development of a Regional Environmental Management Plan for sulphide mining in the Atlantic. The project involved an international consortium of experts, and was carried out in collaboration with the International Seabed Authority. This project concluded in September 2021.
A Trans-Atlantic assessment and deep-water ecosystem-based spatial management plan for Europe (ATLAS) The ATLAS project gathered diverse new information on sensitive Atlantic ecosystems, including Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and Ecologically or Biologically Sensitive Areas (EBSAs), to produce a step-change in our understanding of their connectivity, functioning and responses to future changes in human use and ocean climate. Seascape led the work on science-policy interfaces. More information at www.eu-atlas.org
Blue Harvesting is funded through the European Institute of Innovation and Technology to design, build and test a hydraulic nodule collector in an operational environment, being a poly-metallic nodule field in the NE Atlantic, while minimising its environmental impact. Seascape advised on the environmental impacts of nodule mining operations. More detail at blueharvesting-project.eu
Blue Nodules: Breakthrough Solutions for the Sustainable Harvesting and Processing of Deep Sea Polymetallic Nodules. This H2020 project addressed the challenge of creating a viable and sustainable value chain to retrieve polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor. It developed and tested new highly-automated and sustainable technologies for deep-sea mining with minimal environmental pressures. Seascape led the work on environmental impacts. www.blue-nodules.eu
Strategies for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Carbon Capture and Storage (STEMM-CCS): This 4-year project, funded under H2020 from spring 2016, delivered new insights, guidelines for best practice, and tools for all phases of the CO2 storage cycle at offshore CCS sites. Seascape led the work package on Knowledge Sharing. www.stemm-ccs.eu
Managing Impacts of Deep-seA resource exploitation (MIDAS): MIDAS was a multidisciplinary research programme investigating the environmental impacts of extracting mineral and energy resources from the deep-sea environment, including polymetallic sulphides, manganese nodules, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts, methane hydrates and rare earth elements. MIDAS was funded under the European Commission’s Framework 7 programme for a period of 3 years, concluding in October 2016. Seascape was the Coordinator of this collaborative research project involving 32 partners across 11 countries. www.eu-midas.net
International Seabed Authority (ISA) work
In May 2013 Seascape Consultants undertook a confidential preliminary review of seabed mining Contractors’ annual reports for 2012. This work on behalf of the ISA Secretariat produced an evaluation for consideration by the ISA Legal and Technical Committee (LTC) at their meeting in July 2013. Under their license agreements Contractors are obliged to collate information and report annually on mining technology developments, environmental parameters and business management records. Expert judgement is required to inform decisions on whether this has been achieved in accordance with ISA Guidelines, with sufficient rigour and in line with contractual requirements. The LTC develops recommendations for consideration by the ISA Secretary General and General Assembly. Seascape also reviewed the ISA’s Clarion-Clipperton Environmental Management Plan in 2014, and was contracted to undertake a major performance review of the Authority under the provision of UNCLOS Article 154 in 2013-14.
Optimizing and Enhancing the Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System (AtlantOS): Funded under the EC’s Horizon 2020 programme, the overarching objective of AtlantOS is to achieve a transition from a loosely-coordinated set of existing ocean observing activities producing fragmented, often monodisciplinary data, to a sustainable, efficient, and fit-for-purpose Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System (IAOOS). Within AtlantOS, Seascape will provide an essential link between the EMODnet community and the scientists in AtlantOS. This is essential in order to strengthen the dissemination and exploitation of data and information from observatories and to help streamline the interactions between AtlantOS, the main observing communities and their multiple stakeholders and users. www.atlantos-h2020.eu
European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet): EMODnet is a network of European organisations working together to observe the oceans, to make the marine data collected freely available and interoperable, to create seamless data layers across sea-basins and to distribute the data and data products through the internet. The primary aim of EMODnet is to unlock existing but fragmented and hidden marine data and make them accessible for a wide range of users. Seascape Consultants provides support to the Secretariat for the EMODnet community, funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. www.emodnet.eu
Assistance Mechanism for the Implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning: Funded by the European Commission (DG-MARE), this project provides support to a Member State Expert Group and information sharing on technical issues related to the implementation of the MSP Directive. Seascape provided expertise for a technical study on data needs and knowledge gaps for MSP, and provided regional support for MSP in the North Sea basin during 2015-16. www.msp-platform.eu
Industrial Applications of Marine Enzymes (INMARE) focused on the development of innovative screening and expression platforms to discover and use the functional protein diversity from the sea. In this project, Seascape coordinated the work package on communication and dissemination. For more information please visit www.inmare-h2020.eu
Monitoring, Managing and Transferring Marine and Maritime Knowledge for Sustainable Blue Growth (COLUMBUS)was designed to ensure that applicable knowledge generated through EC-funded science and technology research can be transferred effectively to advance the governance of the marine and maritime sectors, whilst improving Europe’s maritime commercial competitiveness and economic growth. In this project, Seascape applied its expertise and knowledge of the European marine data landscape to boost the dissemination and exploitation of data from monitoring and observation efforts. More information at www.columbusproject.eu
Sustainable Ocean Initiative/CBD capacity building workshops in Senegal, Namibia and Cameroon
Seascape Consultants led a team of experts and delivered the first Sustainable Ocean Initiative capacity building workshop in Dakar in February 2013. This intensive workshop aimed to facilitate and take forward Aichi Target 6 (sustainable fisheries) and Aichi Target 11 (marine protected areas), together with establishing a better understanding of how Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) might be described for marine areas of the South-East Atlantic. The workshop outcomes fed directly into the South-East Atlantic EBSA Workshop held in April 2013 in Namibia. In October 2015, Seascape supported a national Namibia SOI Workshop focussed on taking forward EBSA data to support strategic area-based planning (SEA and MSP), and in January 2018 a similar workshop to explore how the EBSA criteria could assist with responsible marine management was held in Cameroon.
Marine Board Position Paper on Marine Protected Areas
This position paper on establishing coherent networks of MPAs was edited and co-written by Seascape Consultants. Drawing on a series of case studies it sets out recommendations for strengthening science to achieve MPAs in Europe that both meet agreed targets for coverage and also provide adequate protection for vulnerable species and habitats as set out in their collective conservation objectives. Developed by a small group of experts from across Europe, the Position Paper recommendations include improving integration of data collection across Europe, establishing baselines and monitoring, assessing ecological coherence. Launched by the ESF Marine Board at EU Maritime Day in May 2013, it was given additional impetus at the 3rd International Marine Protected Area Congress in October 2013. It can be downloaded from www.marineboard.eu/publications
OSPAR Commission MPA network Ecological Coherence evaluation
Following up on a political commitment by the OSPAR Commission to achieve an ‘ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas by 2012’, Seascape Consultants were contracted to assess whether the network had achieved this ambition. The report concluded that whilst the OSPAR MPA network as a whole is not ecologically coherent, there are positive signs and the techniques used demonstrate what might be possible in the future. For more information please see the OSPAR website:
UNESCO PSSA Feasibility studies for Tubbataha Reefs, Philippines and Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania
The International Maritime Organisation can designate Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) if applications from States or groups of States meet set criteria and contain at least one Associated Protective Measure. UNESCO has designated 46 marine World Heritage Sites, representing the very best natural coastal landscapes and seascapes. Currently five marine World Heritage Sites are also PSSAs. Seascape Consultants were contracted by UNESCO to produce work supporting feasibility studies for two further World Heritage Sites. Tubbataha Reefs in the Philippines suffered from two ship grounding incidents in 2013. A projected expansion of international trade in South-East Asia will heighten the risk of further groundings and possible shipping accidents. For Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania the passage of international shipping through an extensive offshore upwelling zone, together with intensive pelagic fishing and oil and gas developments in the same area, presents a significant risk to the marine environment: a system with ecological connections to the Banc d’Arguin National Park but also through flyways to the Wadden Sea in Europe and beyond. In both instances data has been collated to provide evidence of the vulnerability of these special areas to the impacts of international shipping. The work by Seascape Consultants has informed applications for PSSA designation by the States concerned.