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Maritime Forum

EUSeamap - EMODnet - physical habitats final report MARE/2008/07

A consortium of partners from across four Marine Regions (Baltic, North, Celtic and western Mediterranean Seas) has joined together to deliver the requirements for EC Tender MARE/2008/07. The EUSeaMap Partnership comprises government agencies and research institutions with proven national and international expertise in marine seabed mapping and modelling. The project built upon the highly successful INTERREG MESH1 and BALANCE2 projects, by harmonising and improving methods used to produce the MESH EUNIS3 seabed habitat maps for the North Sea and Celtic Seas with the seabed maps of the Baltic BALANCE project and extending the methodology to the western Mediterranean basin. Through expert application of the EUNIS classification and improved input data layers and seabed habitat modelling techniques, existing maps were improved upon and refined, and their coverage seamlessly extended in the specified Marine Regions.

This Final Report of EUSeaMap summarises the work of the project. Through a review of seabed habitat modelling and mapping in European waters, a consistent methodology has been developed across the partnership, which takes account of the diverse range of seabed habitats found in different Regions. Spatial data have been prepared for a suite of environmental variables, which form the basis of the model. This includes data provided by EMODnet geology and hydrography projects4. Biological data have been incorporated into the modelling process, through the development of ecologically-relevant thresholds. Models were run in three areas (Baltic, western Mediterranean, North and Celtic Seas) to produce seabed habitat maps covering nearly 2 million square kilometres. All the models are structured to allow ready update of the maps, as new higher quality data become available in the future.

Three techniques have been developed for creating confidence maps associated with the seabed habitat maps. Confidence maps are important to enable the variation in quality and resolution of the input data layers to be visually reflected. The EUSeaMap pilot webGIS has been built, through which end-users can explore and access the final seabed habitat maps, environmental variables and confidence maps will be available.

In the final phase of the project a series of assessments to demonstrate the applications of the maps were carried out to highlight benefits and weaknesses of such maps, including through stakeholder feedback. An assessment of further work required to refine the maps and to extend them to other parts of European seas has also been provided.

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