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KnowSeas : Knowledge-based Sustainable Management for Europe's Seas


Europe’s four regional seas (Baltic, Black, Mediterranean and North Sea - North-East Atlantic) have suffered severe environmental degradation due to human pressure. Existing measures to manage pressures have proven inadequate and the EU Member States have recently responded by adopting a new policy (Blue Book for Maritime Policy) and environmental legislation (Marine Strategy Framework Directive). These instruments rely on the Ecosystem Approach, a management paradigm that encompasses humans and the supporting ecosystem.
The overall objective of the project is to provide a comprehensive scientific knowledge base and practical guidance for the application of the Ecosystem Approach to the sustainable development of Europe’s regional seas. This will increase the evidence base available for decision makers and facilitate the practical implementation of the Ecosystem Approach. It will be delivered through a series of specific sub-objectives that lead to a scientifically based suite of tools to assist policy makers and regulators with the practical application of the Ecosystem Approach. It is also expected to deliver high quality scientific outputs that advance our understanding of coupled social and ecological systems.
KnowSeas will work at the two geographical scales envisaged for new EU policy: the Regional Sea Scale and Member State Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). Core teams examining and modelling the causes and consequences of ecosystem change, costs and benefits, and institutional and social aspects, will interact with cross cutting case studies in the regional seas in order to develop a systems approach. Knowledge created through the earlier FP6 European Lifestyles and Marine Ecosystems (ELME) project will be augmented with necessary new studies of climate effects, fisheries and maritime industries. New research will examine and model economic and social impacts of changes to ecosystem goods and services and costs and benefits of various management options available through existing and proposed policy instruments. Institutional and social analysis will determine conflicts of interest and examine governance as well as stakeholder values and perceptions.
The project is divided into four Themes and ten Work Packages as identified below:

Theme 1: Coordination and Concepts
• WP1 - Project Management
• WP2 - Policy Frame

Theme 2: Systems Analysis
• WP3 - Causes and Consequences of Ecosystem Change, including the combined effects of deteriorating water quality, damage from fisheries practices, habitat loss, and climate change
• WP4 - Analysis of Costs and Benefits

Theme 3: Integration
• WP5 - Institutional and Social Analysis
• WP6 - Assessment Toolbox

Theme 4: Case Studies
• WP7 - Baltic Sea EEZs
• WP8 - Black Sea EEZs
• WP9 - Mediterranean Sea EEZs
• WP10 - North Sea / North East Atlantic EEZs

At a practical level the project will develop and test a toolbox that will include:
• Application of Decision Space Analysis;
• Indicator suite for Ecosystem Approach application;
• Assessment of the benefits of European marine ecosystems goods and services and the costs of human induced changes;
• Adaptive Management of Europe’s Seas;
• Sustainable development options appraisals for Europe’s seas;
• and a Conflict resolution guidance and toolkit.

Project information

Scottish Association for Marine Science – SAMS (UK)

Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research – AWI (DE); Baltic Nest Institute, Stockholm University – BNI (SE); The Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science – Cefas (UK); CNR - Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research - CNR-IIA (IT); Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas – CSIC (ES); Deltares (NL); CTL Consult Ltd (UK); Coastal and Marine Union – EUCC (NL); Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Zentrum für Material und Küstenforschung GmbH (DE); Institute for European Environmental Policy – IEEP (UK); Instituto do Mar – IMAR (PT); Institute of Oceanology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences – IOBAS (BG); Netherlands Institute of Ecology – KNAW (NL); Environmental Systems Analysis Lab, University of Padua – LASA (IT); Megapesca Lda (PT); Middle Eastern Technical University – METU (TR); Norwegian Institute for Air Research – NILU (NO); Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science – SAHFOS (UK); University of Plymouth - Marine Institute - UoP-MI (UK); Southern Denmark University – SDU (DK); National Marine Fisheries Research Institute – NMFRI (PL); The Finnish Environment Institute – SYKE (FI); University de Bretagne Occidentale – UBO (FR); Coastal & Marine Resources Centre, University College Cork – UCC (IE); University of East Anglia – UEA (UK); University of Bergen – UiB (NO); University of Venice, Department of Economics – UNIVE (IT); University of Bath – UoB (UK); VU University Amsterdam, Institute for Environmental Studies (NL); Universidad de Sevilla – USE (ES); Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - IBER-BAS (BG)

Source of funding
EC Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)

Reference information



Exclusive Economic Zone, Marine ecosystems, assessment toolbox, ecosystem approach, ecosystem goods, ecosystem services, regional seas, socio-economic impact



Climate impacts

Extreme Temperatures, Sea Level Rise


Vulnerability Assessment, Adaptation Measures and Actions


Marine and Fisheries

Geographic characterization


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