Project deliverable Open Access
Johnson, David; Gunn, Vikki
North Atlantic EBSAs, VMEs and MPAs in a changing ocean - a one-day symposium
In the North Atlantic, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is central to the flow
of energy and elements through the ocean. However, significant gaps in our understanding of the
links between large-scale oceanographic processes and living marine resources hinder the
development of predictive models to account for changes in ocean conditions due to climate
change and increased human activity.
The ATLAS project (www.eu-atlas.org) is exploiting the vast in situ time series dataset provided by
international oceanographic arrays to understand how climate and oceanic variability interact with
human pressures to control ecosystem functioning, biodiversity, connectivity and goods and
services. Twelve case studies located across the Atlantic are examining specific scenarios of ‘Blue
Growth’ development to inform marine spatial planning approaches.
An integral part of this work is to consider implications of change on sensitive deep-water
ecosystems that have been identified as significant and/or vulnerable and thus worthy of
protection. The focus is on waters 200-2000m deep and on the implications of change for
Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) and
High Seas Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
This one-day symposium on 12 May 2018 was aimed at scientists, practitioners, policy makers and
representatives of civil society with expertise and interest in the future of these area-based
management tools (ABMTs) or situations that could support ABMTs in the North Atlantic, and took
place in Montreal immediately before the 4th World Conference on Marine Biodiversity.
Presentations highlighted emerging results from ATLAS, and the status of ABMTs informed by
predicted shifts in ecosystem dynamics were reviewed. Discussions examined opportunities and
processes for adaptive management, and formulated recommendations for future priorities and
directions. A postscript explains how this discussion fed into subsequent policy fora and informed
papers published in 2019.