Project Rationale

The EU maritime policy objectives, as outlined in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) highlight the significance of protecting and preserving the marine environment, which in effect helps towards the promotion of more sustainable uses of the seas, while simultaneously conserving the marine ecosystems.

The oceans offer many opportunities for economic growth, however, coastal development and other human activities such as tourism, recreational activities and maritime transport, have exerted increasing pressures on the oceans and generated a range of threats to the marine environment. These threats have inevitably jeopardized the future uses of the marine ecosystem’s goods and services.

The MSFD has adopted a regional seas approach, which is especially appropriate with respect to the Mediterranean and Black Seas, together representing the Southern European Seas (SES). The Mediterranean and Black Sea are unique and evolve rapidly, with large interannual to decadal variability and abrupt fluctuations, thus they are generally accepted to possess certain unique qualities. In fact, their semi-enclosed nature, coupled with their smaller inertia compared to large oceans, makes them more sensitive to natural variations which are mainly connected to global and regional climate change. Overall, the interaction of these natural pressures, coupled with the exponential increase in human activities around the coasts, has made the SES even more vulnerable and sensitive, especially as the population along the SES coasts has expanded exponentially over the past century. Furthermore, coastal urbanisation, industrialisation and touristic exploitation, intensive agriculture, riverine and atmospheric inputs and overfishing can only count as few among the many anthropogenic forcings impinging on the SES, thereby, putting their integrity at stake.

PERSEUS, through an innovative combination of natural and socio-economic science, aims to design an effective and resourceful research governance framework, based upon newly collected, sound scientific knowledge in order to promote better governance and achieve Good Environmental Status across the Southern European Seas (SES). The project aims to assess the current environmental status of the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, in a coherent and integrated manner, fill the existing scientific knowledge gaps and then design and support an ecosystem-based approach to management so that the EU goal of Clean Seas by 2020 can become a reality, while conserving the surrounding marine environment.