Common framework for mapping underwater habitats discussed Published: 14 March, 2007
Scientists agree that we probably know more about the surface of the moon than we know about our seas and oceans
MARINE scientists from all over the world have gathered in Dublin Castle today to propose a common framework for mapping underwater habitats anywhere in the oceans and to reveal their findings to date as the result of the MESH (Mapping European Seabed Habitats) project.
Increasing industrial development in European seas is leading to an increased risk of conflict between users and a greater potential for environmental damage. Yet scientists agree that we probably know more about the surface of the moon than we know about what lives on the bottom of our seas and oceans and where.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Prof. Gary Greene, of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in the USA said: Just as accurate maps of ecological habitats are essential to land-based project planning to assist planning and avoid environmental damage, so detailed marine habitat maps are becoming increasingly important as marine industries such as oil and gas exploration, aggregate extraction, fishing, aquaculture and coastal activities of all kinds place more and more demands on our marine resources.
MESH aims not only to produce a detailed and standardised marine habitat atlas for European waters, but to provide a template for all surveys of marine habitats in any part of Europe, making the results instantly comparable.
In Ireland, the MESH techniques for marine habitat mapping have been developed within the Irish National Seabed Survey Programme and within INFOMAR – the successor project to map inshore waters said Marine Institute Chief Executive Dr. Peter Heffernan in his welcoming address to the Conference.
The Marine Institute has been deeply involved with both of these projects, along with a number of partners including the Geological Survey of Ireland. Seabed habitat mapping features prominently as a
policy support tool in Sea Change the Marine Knowledge and Information Strategy 2007 2013.
The MESH Conference will continue for two days, with speakers from all over Europe and the United States.
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