We’ve just had a new project funded!
ICEGRAPH: Increasing Confidence in Evaluating GES for Regional Assessments of Pelagic Habitats is a £190,000 project funded by EMFF/MMO to fill some of the scientific gaps around assessing state and understanding change in pelagic habitats. I’m the PI on this project and our partners include Environment Agency, the Marine Biological Association (MBA), Plymouth Marine Lab (PML), and Centre for Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). Jake Bedford, also of Plankton and Policy, will be the project postdoc.
Plankton are at the foundation of pelagic food webs, supporting a range of key ecosystem functions including carbon sequestration and energy flow to higher trophic levels such as fish. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) takes an Ecosystem Approach to managing Europe’s seas with the overarching objective of achieving ‘Good Environmental Status’. In 2017, biodiversity components, including pelagic habitats (plankton), were assessed for progress towards GES for the first time. This assessment, known as the Intermediate Assessment (IA2017), was the first ever regional assessment of Northeast Atlantic biodiversity, and will be reported to the European Commission through the EU Member States, including the UK, by 2020. Although IA 2017 detected change in plankton indicators, research gaps leading to a weak evidence base, prevented interpretation of the ecological meaning behind observed indicator changes, and we were unable to determine if pelagic habitats are in GES. The UK has a strong plankton monitoring programme, but the data have yet to be analysed holistically, facilitating further development of the UK/OSPAR Change in Plankton Communities indicator and interpretation of indicator change.
ICEGRAPH will address this gap by increasing the scientific understanding of the drivers of change in pelagic biodiversity, expanding our ability to manage human pressures, such as fishing and nutrients, which have negative impacts on the marine environment.
ICEGRAPH is a direct response to knowledge gaps recongised by UK and OSPAR policy makers for successful implementation of the MSFD. The ICEGRAPH team will therefore work closely with UK and OSPAR policy makers to ensure project results align with policy needs. Project results will directly support UK and wider EU decision-making about managing marine biodiversity.
We can’t wait to get started!
Abigail, Plankton and Policy