Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Mediterranean Sea – marine and coastal ecosystems under scrutiny monitor

on Wednesday, March 22nd 2017 à 16:07 | Read 841 times


To attain Good Environmental Status (GES) in a Mediterranean Sea under stress, the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP) has opted for a risk-based approach.

Photo A Belkessam
Photo A Belkessam
Monitoring marine and coastal ecosystems is essential in attaining Good Environmental Status. On the southern shores of the Mediterranean, this requirement often comes up against a lack of resources, both technical and financial. Recognizing these limitations, the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP), developed by the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), recommends a risk-based approach (RBA).

The premise of this approach is that not all the components of an ecosystem need to be monitored and that it is better to concentrate on the areas where the stress -often linked to human activity- is hindering the targeted GES. A precise map of these priority areas then needs to be drawn up, thus enabling a better understanding of the stress distribution and the implementation of the necessary corrective measures. 

Working on a methodological guide

This risk-based approach was at the heart of the workshop organized by the Plan Bleu on 2nd March, 2017 in Madrid. The workshop brought together 120 participants from the northern and southern shore of the Mediterranean to share experiences of practices used in monitoring marine debris, biodiversity and coastal areas.

Under the urging of the European Union, the Northern Mediterranean countries have been using this approach for some time. France, for example, uses the RBA to monitor marine debris. Using data retrieved from aerial photographs, the areas of stress linked to human activity are mapped against flora and fauna habitat status to identify the most fragile areas where monitoring efforts need to be concentrated. Greece has developed an index to follow the non-indigenous species occupancy level and model its progress in coastal zones.

In the Southern Mediterranean, Algeria is developing a monitoring programme around ten locations close to major coastal cities targeting coastal erosion and oil pollution risks, with the aim of identifying danger zones and classifying stress levels.

"The IMAP has recognized the worth of a risk-based approach and has made it a policy principle in the monitoring of marine and coastal ecosystems. Nevertheless, the discussions we were able to have during the Madrid workshop highlighted the need for this approach to be deployed efficiently both at regional and national level," points out the Plan Bleu's Antoine Lafitte. "Those tasked with monitoring are looking to us to come up with strategic guidelines and training programmes." These expectations must now be fulfilled.  

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