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Mariani; Brito; Llope; Bocci; Hamid; Bueno; Rossi; Giraud; Barrera; Ndiaye; Diop; Bahri; Moutinho; Schaefer; Gasalla; MISSION ATLANTIC
The Atlantic Ocean provides goods and services that support human health and well-being on a global scale, playing a central role in the Earth system. Hence, critical changes in ocean and ecosystem dynamics can have detrimental consequences on regional, national and global economies and communities.
The recent IPBES Assessment Report on the Sustainable Use of Wild Species estimates that more than 30% of wild marine fish stocks are overfished and unsustainable fisheries can cause damage to the marine environment in multiple dimensions, often leading to cascading effects on local economies. Socioeconomic developments driven by global changes and the climate crisis can also accelerate the loss of different ecosystem services limiting adaptive capacities in several regions. Nevertheless, robust governance and collaborative efforts can effectively support the sustainable management of marine resources (both living and non-living), and thus enable us to address a number of the challenges we face in the ongoing development of the Atlantic Ocean. The need for improved collaboration across scientific disciplines and different levels of governance is especially pertinent in the context of growing interest and accelerating activities across blue economy sectors (e.g. sustainable tourism and aquaculture, access to marine sources of energy, green shipping).
It is therefore essential to develop knowledge on the status, drivers and dynamics of Atlantic marine ecosystems, across regions, to better support appropriate management actions at the necessary scales. This system approach can ensure the sustainable use of marine resources and the protection of the global ocean commons under present conditions and future developments. Additionally, a clear understanding of the challenges for marine ecosystems and their systematic assessments are needed to ensure sustainable planning of the development for marine and maritime-based activities (i.e., a sustainable blue economy).
The Atlantic is the largest sea basin for the EU, representing 36% of the EU blue economy gross added value and has increasing potential for cooperation between the EU and other global regions2. In this respect, the Atlantic sea basin can also leverage potential synergies with other EU strategies, and support provided for maritime cluster cooperation in northern Africa (e.g. Morocco, Mauritania)3. Knowledge, data and observations across countries, sectors and users of the sea should be integrated in a systems approach, which is able to identify indicators of ecosystem state, their changes over time and space, and to deliver assessments of risks and vulnerabilities of the regional socio-ecological systems under multiple pressures and future scenarios. Such systematic assessments can serve as a basis for a thorough analysis of the threats to marine ecosystem functioning and to inform robust and effective planning of maritime activities (e.g., towards an Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Marine Spatial Planning).
This policy event aimed to discuss this holistic approach in the context of an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment of the Canary Current upwelling system developed within MISSION ATLANTIC. This region is subject to major challenges including decline in marine living resources, degradation of habitats, deterioration in water quality, ocean warming, sea-level rise and acidification, increases in marine extreme events and other major threats linked to biodiversity loss. The presence of multi-scale governance (multi-national, nation-state, local authorities and Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction) and user groups (fishery, aquaculture, tourism, renewable energy, oil, gas, etc.) is indicative of a diverse assembly of stakeholders operating in a complex socio-ecological system, posing challenges and opportunities for new governance models on the use of the sea.
POLICY BRIEF Canary Current Upwelling System Regional Strategies for a Sustainable Blue Economy.pdf
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