IRIS-SES’s Workplan

The work plan of the proposed action, IRIS-SES, is divided into 4 main activities, whereas a 5th one is devoted to the coordination, management, public outreach and dissemination of results.

The main activities planned within this action and their implementation will be described below:


Activity 1: Analysis of the monitoring programs carried on the framework of European/Regional/National legislation in relation to MSFD requirements

Activity leader: NMRD (Romania) Dr Luminita Lazar

Participants: HCMR (Greece), IEO (Spain), Univ of Salento (Italy), Univ of Athens (Greece), IO-BAS (Bulgaria), TUBITAK (Turkey), Plan Blue (France)

Start date: 1st month

End date: 5th month, continuous update related to other activites. Final Draft Report on 17th month, Final Report 18th month.

The main aim of the Activity 1 will be the preparation of a catalogue and a comprehensive analysis of the existing monitoring programs related to European Directives (WFD, Habitats and Birds Directive, Common Fisheries Policy, UNEP/MAP Barcelona Convention and Black Sea commissions, other Regional Seas Conventions etc) and other national or international programs in the Mediterranean and Black Seas (such as PERSEUS and MISIS, COCONET, DEVOTES), in order to assess the contribution of these programs to meeting MSFD needs.

In the Mediterranean region, pollution monitoring is being implemented under in the framework of UNEP/MAP MED POL in a coordinated manner since 1980 (MED POL Phase II) to implement the relevant provisions of the Barcelona Convention and the LBS Protocol. During the MED POL Phases III (1996-2005) and IV (2006-2013), national monitoring programmes were harmonized, a data quality control system was applied and national monitoring data were submitted to the MED POL database. The MED POL monitoring programme includes state and trend monitoring of hazardous substances and eutrophication parameters, as well as a pilot programme on biological effects monitoring. Additionally, MED POL has implemented a periodical inventory of pollution sources and loads from land based activities, in the framework of the LBS Protocol and the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) to Address Pollution from Land-based Activities (adopted in 1997 and launched in 2000). Also, compliance monitoring was coordinated, in order to assess the effectiveness of action plans, programmes and measures for pollution control implemented by the Governments (compliance monitoring – microbiological pollution).

In the Black Sea, Romanian, Bulgaria and Turkey are part of the BSIMAP (Black Sea Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme), but compliance with its requirements is not regulated in the national legislation.

Black Sea states Ministries of Environment nominate Institutions which monitor pressures, state and impacts in the Black Sea in the frames of the National Monitoring Systems and report the data to the Black Sea Information System (BSIS). Therefore, the data collected in this manner are not a product of an integrated monitoring program strategy and cannot be used for ecosystem-based approach to assessment of the Black Sea environment status.

According to EC Directive, 2008, "coastal waters including their seabed and subsoil are an integral part of the marine environment and as such should also be covered by MSFD Directive in so far as particular aspects of the environmental status of the marine environment are not already addressed through WFD Directive 2000/60". This means that coastal waters are also an area under the coverage of MSFD and additional aspects of the environment under the MSFD should be assessed as well.

Thus already implemented national and WFD (and other directives) monitoring plans maybe a good start for the building up of MSFD monitoring networks. Based on the needs stemming from the implementation of the WFD and MSFD a list of physical, chemical, biological parameters and data on pressure, impacts and human activities to be monitored will be included in the proposed integrated multi-disciplinary monitoring programmes. This build up could be oriented towards two axes, one "indicators axis" and one "spatial" axis.

Indicator axis

Through BSC/EEA Diagnostic report were identified the gaps in the existing BSIMAP (Black Sea Monitoring System) and assessed the suitability of data for calculation of BSC and EEA indicators and the relevance of monitoring system in the BS region to meet requirements of the MSFD. Unfortunatelly, a deep analysis of the suitability of national monitoring system to respond to different European Directives was not done.

A table of quality elements covered by both Directives (WFD & MSFD) should indicate the overlaps and the additional elements (ex. zooplankton, fish, trophic webs, litter, noise) that should be also covered for the needs of MSFD. In relation to the selection of indicators this should focus on:

• prioritization of needs for all Directives in order to end up in integrative tools - indicators covering as many Directives as possible,

• taking into account already acquired experience in metric and indices development (activity undertaken under the WFD-intercalibration). Ecological status should be relevant or compliant to environmental status.

• harmonization in regional or sub-regional level

• taking into account Initial Assessment Country suggestions for MSFD indicators-methods and PERSEUS and MISIS output/suggestions.

• New indicators developed and tested under current MSFD related Projects (PERSEUS, DEVOTES, CoCONET others?) will be considered

Spatial axis

Prepare an "extended" coastal network of existing monitoring for WFD to cover marine or shelf areas also. Any stations located at sea over a distance of 1 mile from shoreline intended to cover chemical monitoring requirements as requested by WFD would serve as marine monitoring stations also to save resources. Also, available data from satellites and models should be integrated in the spatial axis.

Periodicity and spatial scale should also been taken into account for all relevant Directives in relation to MSFD to result into an integrated planning.

Better knowledge on the gaps in the monitoring and on understanding of the needs and constraints will be achieved during the project. Important recommendations of the Diagnostic Report will be taken into consideration, such as: spatial expanding the monitoring programmes towards the open sea; revision of the existing monitoring programmes to include new parameters and frequencies of observation according to all relevant Directives and specially to MSFD; initiation of regional cruises for transboundary environmental problems assessments.


Activity 2: Integrating scales of monitoring with those of processes to be monitored

Activity leader: (Univ of Salento) (Italy), Dr Alberto Basset

Participants: HCMR (Greece), IEO (Spain), NIMRD (Romania), IO-BAS (Bulgaria), TUBITAK (Turkey), Univ of Athens (Greece),

Start date: 4th month

End date:10th month / update for final draft at 17th month, Final Report at 18th month

Article 11 in the MSFD states “Member States shall establish and implement coordinated monitoring programmes for the ongoing assessment of the environmental status of their marine waters”.

Activity 2 will assess the opportunity to develop multi disciplinary and across member states within the regions monitoring programs based on the relevant scientific information extracted from Activity 1 and integrating the implementation of policies when planning the monitoring. The relevant scientific information will be extracted from existing national and EU monitoring programmes (link to Activity 1), EU projects such as MyOcean, PERSEUS, MISIS and integrating the implementation of policies when planning the monitoring. The monitoring programs will be compatible, following a consistent methodology across regions / subregions and serving the update of the indicators described in article 10, defining the spatial and temporal extent of key indicators of water column and sea bed, with a particular focus on distributional patterns.

Marine monitoring can be integrated in order to be cost effective and facilitated by large scale approaches. The possibilities of the application of new technologies will be also explored. The project MyOcean has been assigned with the responsibility of the Mediterranean regional collection center for data transmitting by operational oceanography platforms in real-time. In the above framework, a large number of data from the variety of platforms (moorings, drifters, argo floats, gliders, XBTs) are already available to the end users after a complete data processing which includes quality control checks, converting to a standard common format and disseminating through standard protocols and procedures. This infrastructure will by further extended, as data that will become available through large European projects such as JERICO and PERSEUS, will be disseminated through the project.

The quality assessment of the consistency of the existing monitoring programmes will be performed assessing the spatial and temporal effectiveness of the sampling sites, periodicity of sampling, evaluating the choice of parameters to measure and the methodological standards, taking in account the MSFD requirements and following the European standards of EMODnet and INSPIRE directive. The identification of overlaps and gaps, highlighting the needs in the required monitoring will be addressed.

A crucial issue will be to determine the spatial and temporal resolution needed for the monitoring programs, moving from a station oriented monitoring to a system oriented monitoring. The goal of this activity is to set up integrated marine monitoring programmes programs to cover the MSFD and EU directives requirements ensuring marine sustainability.

The activity 2 will gain all the collected information from Activity 1 and will be developed into the following actions:

1. Analysing and assessing the data input from Activity 1, comparing and integrating monitoring data;

2. Mining of existing literature on criteria and indicators proposed for the MSFD implementation;

3. Integrating the acquired nature-based knowledge into expert view assessment of spatial and temporal extent of coordinated monitoring programmes among member states in order to be able to detect the key scales of processes underlying the environmental status of marine ecosystems;

4. Analyzing and modeling the spatial and temporal extent of key indicators of water column and sea bed, with a particular focus on distributional patterns, in the LifeWatch virtual labs;

5. Exchange and training activities of young researchers

Objectives :

• Assess the existing marine monitoring programs across states (EU, non EU), within regions/subregions, to cover MSFD requirements addressing almost all MSFD descriptors

• Assess the opportunities to develop existing programs and infrastructure (including platforms, surveyors on ship of opportunity, spare capacity, buoys, remote sensing tools etc) and assessment of the MSFD elements-indicators covered in this way into multidisciplinary programmes. For example remote sensing of chlorophyll-a levels would assess attributes for Descriptor 5 (Eutrophication) and Descriptor 4 (Food Webs)

• Assess the geographical coverage of monitoring programmes, demonstrate the overlapping, choose the parameters to measure in order to provide the data to allow to the assessment methods to classify if a marine area is reaching the desired status.

• Identification of overlaps, gaps and needs in the required monitoring

It is expected that these monitoring programs will be compatible, following a consistent methodology across regions / subregions and serving the update of the indicators described in article 10.

Data collection and best available information is essential to efficient monitoring programmes. A quality assessment of the consistency of the monitoring programmes will be performed developing a data framework and assessing the effectiveness of data series, the density of sampling sites, methodological standards etc. The outcome will be delivered following the European Standards of EmodNET and INSPIRE directive.

The virtual lab facility to test the above will be supported by the LifeWatch Service Centre in Lecce and is run from the University of Salento.

A crucial issue will be to determine the spatial and temporal resolution needed for the monitoring programs, improving the existing marine monitoring programs to cover the MSFD requirements.

The activity will take profit of the ICT developments of the ESFRI infrastructure on biodiversity and ecosystem research LifeWatch and will be realized through the use of LifeWatch virtual laboratories for the integration of available information on MSFD criteria and indicators and the analysis of the most appropriate spatial and temporal scale of the associated processes.

Activity 3: Adaptation and development of intelligent tools

Activity leader: HCMR (Greece), Dr Aristomenis Karageorgis

Participants: IEO (Spain), NIMRD (Romania), Univ of Athens (Greece), ISOTECH (Cyprus),

Start date: 4th month

End date:10th month / update for final draft at 17th month. Final Report 18th month

IRIS-SES aims to launch a pilot plan on 'New Knowledge for an integrated management of human activity in the sea' to explore and develop a number of aspects that will support the MSFD implementation process relating to monitoring. As such, the development of a software/GIS platform is mandatory and is aligned with the integration of GIS concept to the initial phases of the monitoring and assessment cycle.

The determination of environmental status and the achievement of GES are tightly linked to extensive monitoring of MSFD descriptors/indicators, a process that puts high costs on the already limited EU nations' budgets. Thus, any possible tool or method that could direct to minimisation of monitoring expenses would he highly appreciated. Geographical information systems and the underlying databases provide a set of unique software tools that enables deep insight into available data, therefore increasing their added value. An intelligent system may assist to an optimization of monitoring plans both in the spatial and temporal dimension. Moreover, in a European or basin scale, neighbouring countries may greatly benefit by merging/harmonizing monitoring activities in their marine borders and/or marine regions or subregions. In the same rationale, non-EU countries will have the opportunity to follow and/or adapt monitoring plans of EU countries already implementing the MSFD.

The tools will have a major interactive role in monitoring planning and functioning across countries. They will also reveal the gaps needed to be covered for a full assessment under the requirements of MSFD. The tools will serve in management planning and measures implementation.

The GIS rationale is to develop:

• a basic set of information layers that will be used as generic information for all 11 MSFD Descriptors

• in-deep approach for selected Descriptors

• incorporate intelligent tools specially designed for those Descriptors

The decision-making tool rationale is to provide a simple, though intelligent tool, to support policy makers, managers, and stake-holders.

Our approach will take into consideration, among others, the guidelines provided by Task Groups (as for MSFD Descriptor 1: Biological diversity), composed of groups of experts coordinated by ICES and JRC, who delivered a comprehensive report including GIS structure (Cochrane et al. 2010), as well as requirements and options for MSFD monitoring given by Zampoukas et al. (2012).


Activity 4: Optimization and adaptation to MSFD requirements of ongoing joint marine monitoring in the Mediterranean and Black Sea: planning the future JMPs

Activity leader: IEO (IEO), Dr Francisco Alemany

Participants: HCMR (Greece), NIMRD (Romania), Univ Of salento (Italy), IO-BAS (Bulgaria), TUBITAK (Turkey), Univ of Athens (Greece)

Start date: 10th month (or earlier)

End date: 17th month/ Final Draft Report. Final Report 18th month

The goal of Activity 4 is that the decisions adopted by EU and MS authorities for the achievement of GES in the Mediterranean and Black Seas will be based on appropriate scientific information resulting from the analysis of comparable data sets provided by sea-region scale Joint Monitoring Programs. In order to set the basis for the achievement of this general objective, the immediate objectives of Activity 4 will be:

1- To elaborate detailed, realistic and affordable joint monitoring plans for the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, useful for the achievement of MSFD objectives, resulting from the optimization and integration of existing international monitoring programs (link to Activity 2).

2- To present a plan for the design and implementation of new joint standardised monitoring programs specifically focused on filling the gaps in MSFD monitoring needs in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions that cannot be addressed through the optimisation of existing international programs.

Both objectives address directly the specific target of this Call, which is to develop joint monitoring programs that help forging synergies within and between Member States for monitoring and assessing pressures and impacts from human activities in the marine environment in an integrated way.

In relation to Objective 1, special attention will be paid to ongoing monitoring programs carried out by several EU countries in a coordinated way under the framework of various EU directives or international conventions, as the Water Framework Directive, the Data collection Framework under the Common Fisheries Policy and the Mediterranean Action Plan under the Barcelona Convention. The Barcelona Convention constitutes the legal framework of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), which is a cooperative effort involving 20 Mediterranean countries and EU.

Objective 2 will address mainly those monitoring programs carried out also in several EU countries to respond to the requirements of EU Directives, as the Habitats Directive, or international agreements, as the UN Biological Diversity Convention; but without any effective international coordination mechanisms, as most of those are realized in Marine Protected Areas. In the Mediterranean Sea, previous to the MSFD (2008/56/EC), other strategies with similar objectives aimed to conserve, protect and restore the marine environment, focusing part of their efforts on few key and priority coastal habitats such as seagrass meadows. Multiple policies need the implementation of marine biodiversity-related assessments throughout the Mediterranean coast: the Habitat Directive (HD, 92/43/EEC), the Water Framework Directive (WFD, 2000/60/EC), the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP, COM(2010)241), the Recommendation on the Integrated Coastal Management (2002/413/EC) and the international Convention of Barcelona. All of them have invoked the need to preserve seagrass habitats and species associated, due to its central role providing goods and services to the marine coastal ecosystem, or its use as bioindicators, due to its excellent properties of ecological indicators and integrators of environmental change. Accordingly, policy-makers and scientific researchers of most Mediterranean countries and regions have invested significant resources and time in seagrass mapping and monitoring during the past decades, mainly in the dominant seagrass habitat Posidonia oceanica. Despite this, from the Initial Evaluation of the MSFD, the analysis of the current situation has evidenced that seagrass habitat mapping is incomplete or absent and unbalanced among regions and localities, and made with different methods and criteria so that spatio-temporal comparisons are not possible in most localities. In addition, monitoring programmes of seagrass habitats have been mostly implemented in Posidonia oceanica meadows and the existence of such programmes in seagrass habitats of other seagrass species (Cymodocea nodosa and Zostera spp) is rare or inexistent. Ongoing monitoring programmes have been implemented from different administrations, legislations and directives with different objectives (Posidonia networks, WFD and HD evaluations, MPA’s, etc.). However, protocols and indicators are very similar and/or complementary in many instances. Therefore, coordination of existing resources and infrastructures would help to meet with MSFD needs at large spatial scales (even inter-states) with a relevant spatio-temporal coverage.

Whenever possible, MSFD suggest that both cost-efficiency and knowledge gained should be maximised by achieving synergy with ongoing monitoring. In the case of seagrass habitat monitoring programmes synergies could be achieved in several ways to conform Joint Monitoring Programmes (JMP) in the future.

Another field of research in which coordination among countries and large scale monitoring is indispensable is the physical oceanography. As regards to MSFD, there is a Descriptor specially focused on the changes induced by human activities in ocean circulation, but the understanding of ocean dynamics is crucial also for interpreting the data obtained from almost any monitoring program carried out at sea. Proposals for developing JMP related to physical oceanography in the Mediterranean and Black sea have been recently presented, such as “Designing MED-SHIP, a program for repeated oceanographic surveys” (CIESM, 2012, nº 43 in CIESM Workshops Monographs, F. Briand, Ed., 164pp., Monaco), which constitute a very relevant reference for the design of the future JMPs in this region. It responds to an urgent necessity of coordinating efforts and take advantage of synergies, in line with the aim of this Call, because despite hydrographic monitoring have been carried out in the Mediterranean region by means of regular oceanographic surveys is several areas, even following similar sampling protocols, there is still an important lack of coordination. As an example, in the Western Mediterran, the IEO-RADMED monitoring program (Amengual et al. 2010) is already conducting many of the evaluations required under the Descriptors 5 and 7. This monitoring includes productive areas such as the Alboran Sea, oligotrophic waters as those to the north of Cape Palos and around the Balearic Islands, or areas of special interest as those surrounding the Ebro River. Coastal, shelf and deep stations are included. All these data are compiled under the IBAMar database (Aparicio et al. 2012). IBAMar 2.0 is a new database created from the oceanographic data obtained during the development of different oceanographic projects by the IEO Balearic Centre and conducted from 1974 and ongoing in the Western Mediterranean basin (Balearic Sea and Algerian Basin). This and equivalent programs all around the Mediterranean and Black Seas could be coordinated and standardised to get a global view at basin scale. Moreover, within this context the new monitoring technologies, which permit to get synoptic information from large areas, as satellite imagery, or continuous recording of oceanographic parameters as buoys or moorings that allow to deal with the short scale environmental variability, are of outmost importance. Being aware of this fact, in this Call it is suggested to consider these alternative sampling techniques, and within this proposal special attention will be paid to the use of these monitoring facilities already existing in Mediterranean Sea (see for example for complementing traditional sampling surveys, and their integration in future JMPs. As a first step to go further in the international coordination of oceanographic surveys in the southern European seas, and in the integration of new sampling technologies and more traditional surveys, a pilot study on these issues based on the RADMED monitoring program will be carried out within this project, which would allow improving the performance of the hydrographic monitoring program that the Member States have to develop in order to permanently evaluate the environmental state of their marine waters, following the indicative lists of the Annexes III and V.

All that implies to follow strictly the recommendation “building on the ongoing monitoring under the Regional Sea Conventions, the Data Collection Framework and, where relevant, the Habitats Directive, the Water Framework Directive and other relevant directives”.

Activity 5: Coordination and Management, Dissemination and Sustainability

Activity leader: HCMR-Greece, Dr Kalliopi Pagou

Participants: IEO (Spain), NIMRD (Romania) , Univ Of salento (Italy)

Start date: 1st month

End date: 18th month

This section presents our approach to the management of IRIS-SES and the procedure to mobilize the best possible team for each specific request.

The overall co-ordination and management of the project is the responsibility of HCMR.

Activity 5 focuses in the management and coordination of the project. It will provide effective and comprehensive coordination of the activities, management of the project, and communication between partners, as well as dissemination of the project results and sustainability of the project achievements.

Objectives are to:

Coordinate activities

Manage and monitor the progress of the project

Ensure the project meets its objectives within the time and the budget limits

Facilitate communication between partners

Link IRIS-SES to other international and national projects

Link IRIS-SES to stakeholders

Communicate and outreach Project results and scientific developments on all levels of society: policy, public as well as scientific community

Our team brings together a unique set of partner institutes that geographically cover the marine waters of the Mediterranean and the Western Black Sea with renowned knowledge and expertise covering very broad areas of expertise, in line with the requirements explicitly stipulated in the invitation to tender for Framework contracts. The individual partners that constitute this Consortium are all involved in national and international projects related to the implementation of the Marine Strategic Framework Directive.

The Consortium comprises of several institutes that together encompass all aspects of marine monitoring programmes.