European Broad-Scale Seabed Habitat Maps and ecosystem based management

A paper, recently published in the Open Journal of Ecology, reviews the application of Broad-Scale Seabed Habitats Maps (BSHM) in Europe, such as EUSeaMap, MESH Atlantic BSHM, Balance and UKSeaMap, for Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Habitats Directive assessments, since their beginnings (~2006) to 2015.

The authors concluded that there seems to be an increasing need for more BSHMs nationally, regionally and on a European scale, with the upcoming second round of MSFD Initial Assessments due in 2018, including assessment of potentially cumulative pressures.

Some EU member states have used BSHMs in their first MSFD assessments and in some cases also in the establishment of the Natura 2000 network or the Natura 2000 network assessment. BSHMs are particularly suited to such assessments, requiring full coverage of national waters or entire regions of seas, which is not possible to obtain with habitat maps from survey alone.

Only since 2016, with EUSeaMap2016, BSHMs are available for all Europeans Seas, covering new areas like the East Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Results are derived from literature review, download statistics and from a survey sent to marine experts from all EU member states involved in national assessments for MSFD and/or Habitats Directive. The publication “European Broad-Scale Seabed Habitat Maps Support Implementation of Ecosystem-Based Management” is available Open source.