Seascape Consultants undertake research, leadership and consultancy across a range of marine disciplines. Our current projects include:
Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI): Seascape Consultants provide overall coordination and project Secretariat for GOBI, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), via the International Climate Initiative. The Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative 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
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 including private bodies, public authorities and researchers. Seascape Consultants provide the Secretariat for the EMODnet community, funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. For more information, please see www.emodnet.eu
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. More information at www.atlantos-h2020.eu
Monitoring, Managing and Transferring Marine and Maritime Knowledge for Sustainable Blue Growth (COLUMBUS) is a project 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 will apply its expertise and knowledge of the European marine data landscape to boost the dissemination and exploitation of data from monitoring and observation efforts. Seascape will take responsibility for the Competence Node on “Marine Monitoring and Observation” to ensure that knowledge associated with acquisition and storage of marine data, as well as access to the data and information itself, is effectively transferred to different users. More information at www.columbusproject.eu
Blue Nodules: Breakthrough Solutions for the Sustainable Harvesting and Processing of Deep Sea Polymetallic Nodules. This H2020 project addresses the challenge of creating a viable and sustainable value chain to retrieve polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor. It will develop and test new highly-automated and sustainable technologies for deep-sea mining with minimal environmental pressures. Seascape leads 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, will deliver new insights, guidelines for best practice, and tools for all phases of the CO2 storage cycle at offshore CCS sites. Seascape will lead the work package on Knowledge Sharing. For more information please visit www.stemm-ccs.eu
A Trans-Atlantic assessment and deep-water ecosystem-based spatial management plan for Europe (ATLAS) The ATLAS project will gather 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. More information at www.eu-atlas.org
Industrial Applications of Marine Enzymes (INMARE) is 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 will coordinate the work package on communication and dissemination. For more information please visit www.inmare-h2020.eu
Assistance Mechanism for the Implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning: This project funded by the European Commission (DG-MARE), provides support to a Member State Expert Group and information sharing on technical issues related to the implementation of the MSP Directive. Seascape will provide expertise for a technical study on data needs and knowledge gaps for MSP, and will also provide regional support for MSP in the North Sea basin. More information at www.msp-platform.eu
Other projects and studies undertaken in 2013 -2016
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. For more information, please visit the project website at 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 is currently contracted to undertake a major performance review of the Authority under the provision of UNCLOS Article 154.
South Stream Offshore Pipeline Project
Seascape Consultants was contracted by URS Ltd, on behalf of South Stream Transport B.V., to examine the seabed geophysical survey data and interpret any biological features of significance along the 930 km long pipeline route through the Black Sea. This pipeline will extend from the Russian coast near Anapa, through the Russian, Turkish, and Bulgarian Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), to the Bulgarian coast near Varna. The South Stream Offshore Pipeline is the offshore component of the South Stream Pipeline System that will transport natural gas from Russia to countries of central and south-eastern Europe. A large amount of data was provided, including bathymetry, sidescan sonar, sub-bottom profiles, videos and photographs. The aim of the study was to examine features in each of the datasets and integrate the interpretations to understand the seafloor processes that formed them. The interpretations were set in context of the recent geological history of the Black Sea. This work fed into the preparation of the EIA and ESIA documentation that was carried out by South Stream Transport B.V.
Convention on Biological Diversity SOI Capacity Building Workshop in Senegal
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. This event required the production of a substantive Background Document and a set of training materials in both English and French. Participants from all the West African States attended, as well as representatives of key NGOs and scientific organisations. The Workshop also drew on experiences of participants and provided both theoretical context and practical exercises to better equip individuals and their institutions to meet national obligations agreed by CBD COP 10. It 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).
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. A series of tests were applied to the network. Basic tests were appropriate for the whole OSPAR Maritime Area, more sophisticated tests were then applied where signs of coherence were most promising. Under the direction of an OSPAR contact group, a draft report was produced in March 2013 for the OSPAR Biodiversity Committee and a final report presented to the OSPAR Commission Contracting Parties in June 2013. The results were further shared at the 3rdInternational Marine Protected Area Congress in October 2013. GIS analysis highlighted spatial gaps and more stringent connectivity criteria were applied to selected areas, together with a consideration of biogeographic representativity and distribution across bathymetric classes. Evaluation of ecological coherence also requires sufficient data on distribution of species and habitats in need of protection. In the absence of comprehensive data, where possible broad-scale habitat representativity was evaluated. 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.
Laverda geohazard assessment
The Laverda Development is situated approximately 40 km northwest of North West Cape in Western Australia. Seascape Consultants was contracted by Worley Parsons Pty Ltd to contribute to a geohazard analysis using seabed core samples and to interpret these in light of shallow geophysical data.