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SponGES : Deep-sea Sponge Grounds Ecosystems of the North Atlantic: an integrated approach towards their preservation and sustainable exploitation


SponGES overarching goal is to develop an integrated ecosystem-based approach to preserve and sustainably use deep-sea sponge ecosystems of the North Atlantic. Sponge grounds constitute one of the most diverse, ecologically and biologically important and vulnerable marine ecosystems of the deep-sea that have received very little research and conservation attention to date. Specific aims of the project are:

  • Strengthening the knowledge-base on North Atlantic sponge ground ecosystems by investigating their distribution, diversity, biogeography, function and dynamics;
  • Improving innovation and industrial application by unlocking the biotechnological potential of these ecosystems;
  • Improving the capacity to model, understand and predict threats and impacts and future anthropogenic and climate-driven changes to these ecosystems;
  • Advancing the science-policy interface and developing tools for improved resource management and good governance of these ecosystems from regional to international levels across the North Atlantic.

SponGES will contribute to the implementation of major strategic instruments such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), EU Maritime Strategy for the Atlantic Ocean Area, the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation, as well as international agreements established to conserve Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and Ecologically or Biologically Sensitive Areas (EBSAs).

Project information

University of Bergen (Norway)

Fisheries and Ocean Canada, Florida Atlantic University (United States), Spanish Institute of Oceanography (Spain), Uppsala University (Sweden), Natural History Museum (United Kingdom), Spanish National Research Council (Spain), University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), Wageningen University (Netherlands), Bangor University (United Kingdom), University of Bristol (United Kingdom), University of Minho (Portugal), Institute of Marine Research – Azores (Portugal), Ecology Action Centre (Canada), Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Netherlands), Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel  GEOMAR (Germany), Utrecht University (Netherlands), Studio Associato GAIA (Italy), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Source of funding
Horizon 2020 Programme

Reference information



Atlantic, MSFD, deep sea, ecosystem-based approach, resource management, sponge ground


March 2016 – February 2020

Climate impacts

Extreme Temperatures


Sector Policies, Vulnerability Assessment


Biodiversity, Marine and Fisheries

Geographic characterization


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