Project Objectives

The overall scientific objectives of PERSEUS are to identify the interacting patterns of natural and human-derived pressures on the Mediterranean and Black Seas, assess their impact on marine ecosystems and, using the objectives and principles of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive as a vehicle, to design an effective and innovative research governance framework based on solid scientific knowledge. This research governance framework will engage scientists, policy-makers and the public, thereby reaching a shared understanding and informed decision-making based on sound scientific knowledge, with particular reference to the MSFD and other relevant policies and initiatives.

More specifically, PERSEUS has been structured around the following four scientific objectives:

1. To identify the interacting patterns of both natural and human-derived pressures on the SES and proceed with the assessment of their impact on the marine ecosystems: Scientific research and socio-economic analysis will be combined and applied at basin and sub-regional scale as well as on selected coastal areas. In this way, short term data gaps will be identified, and later addressed by specific actions. These actions will, in turn, determine the currently unknown mechanisms through which both natural and human-induced pressures impact the two ecosystems. Additionally, the key processes which exert pressures on the marine ecosystem will be studied, while the interactions of natural and human pressures will be evaluated based on the MSFD objectives.

2. To develop tools for the evaluation of the environmental status using existing and upgraded monitoring and modelling capabilities: This objective is intended to propose options which ensure that monitoring and modelling capabilities remain well-coordinated in the long-term. In other words, the project will develop the overall strategy for monitoring the SES using existing structures while developing new ones in line with the latest technological developments. To this end, a small research and survey vessel concept will be also designed for use in areas where currently available research vessels cannot operate effectively and can serve as a scientific survey tool beyond the project’s duration. Moreover, modelling systems will address both basin and coastal scales, while tools will explicitly tackle specific quantitative/qualitative descriptors of the MFSD, and will support a results-based approach that will allow identification of the most efficient strategies to achieve or maintain GES.

3. To implement the principles and objectives put forward in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and promote them across the SES: Promotion will be based on the development of a state of the art methodology that will allow harmonized assessments and enable comparison of the environmental status across the different marine sub-regions. PERSEUS will, thus, provide an important opportunity to assemble a broad, interdisciplinary and multinational network of scientists from EU and non-EU countries to join forces in a research effort aimed towards GES achievement.

4. To create a framework for future implementation of adaptive policies and management schemes: PERSEUS will define vulnerable marine sectors/groups/regions and rank them based on the underlying ecosystem structure and functioning which govern/constrain goods and services. Moreover, and in accordance with the MSFD priorities, appropriate environmental state scenarios will be used to explore hypothesized interactions and links between projected human and natural pressures and the SES capacity to provide goods and services to surrounding populations. The evaluation of how appropriate scenarios (supported by ecological models) are used in decision-making will then assess ways through which specific measures/developments can be best implemented.