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Maritime Forum

Interim report for EuSeaMap

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 will build upon the highly successful INTERREG MESH and BALANCE projects, by harmonising the MESH EUNIS 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 habitat modelling techniques, existing maps will be improved and refined, and their coverage seamlessly extended in the specified Marine Regions.

This Interim Report of EUSeaMap summarises the progress to date. Through a review of habitat modelling and mapping in European waters, a consistent methodology has been developed across the partnership, which takes account of the diverse range of habitats found in different Regions. Preparation of spatial data for a suite of environmental variables, which form the basis of the model, is nearly complete. This includes data provided by EMODNET geology and hydrography projects. The incorporation of biological data into the modelling process has begun, through the development of ecologically-relevant thresholds. A test version of the model has been successfully run for the area around Brittany, including the use of a module which will allow ready update of the maps, as new higher quality data become available in the future.

The EUSeaMap pilot webGIS has been built, through which the final habitat maps and environmental variables will be disseminated; additional functionality is in development in preparation for the live launch of the webGIS. Techniques for creating an associated confidence map have been explored, and three approaches are now under consideration following liaison with EMODNET projects. The confidence map is important to enable the variation in quality and resolution of the input data layers to be visually reflected.

The next phase of the project will finalise the thresholds to be used, and run the models to create seabed habitat maps and associated confidence maps. A series of assessments to demonstrate the applications of the maps will be 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 will be undertaken.

[img_assist|nid=758|title=Result of test model run in North-Brittany|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=640|height=312]