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Bridging the gap between policy and science in assessing the health status of marine ecosystems

Borja, Angel; Elliott, Michael; Snelgrove, Paul V. R.; Austen, Melanie C.; Berg, Torsten; Cochrane, Sabine; Carstensen, Jacob; Danovaro, Roberto; Greenstreet, Simon; Heiskanen, Anna-Stiina; Lynam, Christopher P.; Mea, Marianna; Newton, Alice; Patrício, Joana; Uusitalo, Laura; Uyarra, María C.; Wilson, Christian


Angel Borja

Professor Mike Elliott
Professor of Estuarine and Coastal Sciences/ Research Professor, Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies

Paul V. R. Snelgrove

Melanie C. Austen

Torsten Berg

Sabine Cochrane

Jacob Carstensen

Roberto Danovaro

Simon Greenstreet

Anna-Stiina Heiskanen

Christopher P. Lynam

Marianna Mea

Alice Newton

Joana Patrício

Laura Uusitalo

María C. Uyarra

Christian Wilson


Human activities, both established and emerging, increasingly affect the provision of marine ecosystem services that deliver societal and economic benefits. Monitoring the status of marine ecosystems and determining how human activities change their capacity to sustain benefits for society requires an evidence-based Integrated Ecosystem Assessment approach that incorporates knowledge of ecosystem functioning and services). Although, there are diverse methods to assess the status of individual ecosystem components, none assesses the health of marine ecosystems holistically, integrating information from multiple ecosystem components. Similarly, while acknowledging the availability of several methods to measure single pressures and assess their impacts, evaluation of cumulative effects of multiple pressures remains scarce. Therefore, an integrative assessment requires us to first understand the response of marine ecosystems to human activities and their pressures and then develop innovative, cost-effective monitoring tools that enable collection of data to assess the health status of large marine areas. Conceptually, combining this knowledge of effective monitoring methods with cost-benefit analyses will help identify appropriate management measures to improve environmental status economically and efficiently. The European project DEVOTES (DEVelopment Of innovative Tools for understanding marine biodiversity and assessing good Environmental Status) specifically addressed t hese topics in order to support policy makers and managers in implementing the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Here, we synthesize our main innovative findings, placing these within the context of recent wider research, and identifying gaps and the major future challenges.

Journal Article Type Review
Publication Date Sep 12, 2016
Journal Frontiers in marine science
Electronic ISSN 2296-7745
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue SEP
APA6 Citation Borja, A., Elliott, M., Snelgrove, P. V. R., Austen, M. C., Berg, T., Cochrane, S., …Wilson, C. (2016). Bridging the gap between policy and science in assessing the health status of marine ecosystems. Frontiers in Marine Science, 3(SEP),
Keywords Environmental status, Marine health, Status assessment, Management, Ecosystem approach, Socio-ecology
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: Frontiers in marine science, 2016, v.3 The article was also published as part of an open access ebook, Borja, A., Elliott, M., Uyarra, M. C., Carstensen, J., Mea, M., eds. (2017). Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Science in Assessing the Health Status of Marine Ecosystems, 2nd Edition. Lausanne: Frontiers Media. doi: 10.3389/978-2-88945-126-5


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