The MESH project ended in 2008 and this website is no longer updated.

Please see the EMODnet Seabed Habitats website for current information about habitat mapping data and standards in Europe.

Recommended Operating Guidelines

Most of the techniques used by habitat mappers were designed for other survey disciplines, and have well established standard operating procedures (SOPs) to provide quality data for their intended purpose. MESH at its outset undertook a Review of Standards and Protocols for Habitat Mapping (Coggan et al., 2007) (available in the Products Library as MESH Standards & Protocols) with the aim of reviewing all this existing material to assess its suitability for use in a seabed habitat mapping context. It became apparent that organisations were using the same equipment in slightly different ways, often because a user has a slightly different application for a technique from its originally intended purpose. To try and achieve some standardisation in the use of survey equipment, the MESH Project drafted a series of Recommended Operating Guidelines (ROG) to describe how best to use each technique in a marine habitat mapping context. Where applicable, standard operating procedures, ISO-standards or similar are well known and recognised, references and links are made. The ROGs cover four main areas:

  • Guidelines for mapping intertidal and shallow subtidal habitats by remote and on-site surveys, showing how to collect, manage and verify data.


  • Standards and protocols for the use and ground-truthing of remote sensing imagery, both satellite and aerial (e.g. SPOT, CASI and LiDAR).


  • Guidelines for mapping deeper sub-tidal habitats (e.g. 20 – 200 m depths) by remote and on-site surveys, showing how to collect, manage and verify data.


  • Standards and protocols for the use and ground-truthing of acoustic techniques (e.g. side-scan sonar, multibeam sonar, Acoustic Ground Discrimination Systems and their associated ground-truthing methods (e.g.underwater video, and sediment sampling).


The ROGs are listed for download below. In 2012 the MESH Atlantic Project updated the LiDAR and Side-scan sonar ROGs and produced a new ROG for grab sampling.


Recommended Operating Guidelines Size Type
3D seismic derived seabed imagery 330 KB PDF
Aerial photography 629 KB PDF
Acoustic Ground Discrimination Systems 294 KB PDF
Airborne digital imagery 617 KB PDF
Box coring 896 KB PDF
High resolution satellite imagery 7 MB PDF
Grab sampling, sorting and treatment of samples (MESH Atlantic, 2012) 680 KB PDF
LiDAR (MESH Atlantic update, 2012) 3 MB PDF
Sediment profile imagery 8 MB PDF
Side-scan sonar (MESH Atlantic update, 2013) 1 MB PDF
Single beam echosounder 1 MB PDF
Sub Bottom Profiler (Chirp) 5 MB PDF
Trawls & dredges 22 MB PDF
Underwater video & photographic imaging 2 MB PDF


All material variously copyrighted by MESH project partners 2004-2010
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