Journal article Open Access
Improving marine resource management and governance requires marrying science and socio-economics, which is key to the development of the Blue Economy. For sustainable growth of the Blue Economy (Blue Growth) to occur, there needs to be robust scientific information on the marine environment, detailed knowledge of activities occurring within ocean space, and comprehensive understanding of environmental impacts. To ensure Blue Growth is sustainable into the future, information is also needed on how the marine environment, activities and impacts may change with time, and at relevant spatial scales. ATLAS, a transAtlantic assessment and deep-water ecosystem-based EU H2020 Project, has undertaken pioneering research to understand the environmental status of the North Atlantic deep sea, and the interaction between Blue Growth scenarios and the marine environment. ATLAS research into North Atlantic Ocean circulation, species and habitat connectivity shows that the North Atlantic is changing, which will impact Blue Growth. As marine industries move progressively offshore, ATLAS work on defining elements of Good Environmental Status for deep-water ecosystems will improve the understanding of Blue Growth interactions with the deep-sea. Potential trade-offs to maintain ecosystem services at a sea-basin scale have also been explored through a selection of 12 ATLAS case studies. ATLAS interactions with industry have highlighted opportunities and challenges for Blue Economy sectors, particularly in the context of marine spatial planning. Through interviews, questionnaires and workshops, ATLAS has discussed key scientific findings and Blue Growth scenarios with 10 major Blue Economy sectors and many supporting sectors. This work illustrates the complexities of Blue Growth in the North Atlantic, including spatial needs, synergies and conflicts, and data sharing opportunities. ATLAS-industry dialogue also highlights differences in Blue Economy sectoral expectations, and levels of understanding relating to new policy instruments.