The European Union competition for maritime space – for renewable energy equipment, aquaculture and other growth areas – has highlighted the need for efficient management, to avoid potential conflict and create synergies between different activities (European Comission - Maritime Affairs). Maritime spatial planning is a common approach to achieve this balance by allocating human activities in the maritime space to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives. One of the key ecological objectives is set out in the Convention on Biological Diversity - Aichi Target 11, which states: "By 2020... 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are protected..."

 

Visualising, Analysing and Reporting important seafloor features within marine protected areas

The BlueBRIDGE project has developed a Virtual Research Environment (VRE) dedicated to analysing the representation of ecologically important seafloor features within marine protected areas, which will assist in reporting against Aichi Target 11. This VRE is called "the Protected Areas Impact Maps (PAIM) VRE".

The PAIM VRE interface is built around an interactive map viewer that provides visualization of a range seafloor features. The interface utilizes cloud computing to analyse the representation of seafloor features within marine protected areas for a selected exclusive economic zone or marine ecoregion. Finally, the interface presents the results of this analysis in an interactive report, with options to download the report or the results of the analysis. The interface will assist users in understanding which seafloor features occur in an area and how these are currently represented in marine protected areas. This information can be used to prioritize future planning of protected areas to include seafloor features which are poorly represented.

ACCESS THE PAIM VRE

 

Detection of aquaculture structures

The growing human demands on the environment are not without risk, and the challenge is to find a cost-effective and balanced set of tools for managers to discover the sites and sizes of production facilities, to understand their position in the human and natural environment, and to achieve a regional view on currently fragmented spatial management areas, where measures apply to regulate human impact on the natural environment. This is also recognized by the EU in its Blue Growth Maritime Spatial Planning challenge. This information is essential to assist managers in their efforts to conserve aquatic ecosystems and understand its natural capital.

BlueBRIDGE is building a VRE to effectively and efficiently produce aquaculture products (maps of human activity and natural zones) contributing to an aquaculture atlas compliant with NASO standards. The VRE will be released on December 2017.