Implementation of the MSFD implies that EC member states present a good environmental status of their marine waters. It is therefore essential to map and monitor critical areas, creating strategies that include a monitoring plan (PMo) for the ongoing assessment of the environmental status of marine waters and a plan of action (SMEs) in order to achieve and maintain good environmental status . In PMe version available for public consultation establishes that new protected marine areas should be created large, enclosed in deep ocean areas, covering one of the most important ocean habitats: habitat OSPAR Montes Submarines. The BIOMETORE project includes research campaigns in Madeira-Tore geological complex and Great Meteor, for acquiring biodiversity data, ecological, physical and chemical parameters, identifying key species for which there are information gaps.
Summary of project results
The BIOMETORE project opened an opportunity to study and address knowledge gaps in two of the most important seamounts complexes in the Portuguese waters: the Madeira-Tore and Great Meteor, which Portugal intends to designate as marine protected areas (MPA) in the framework of the MSFD implementation. The results provided baseline information for sustainable use and management measures in the Portuguese marine environment and to the development of the marine strategies for the continuous assessment of the environmental status of marine waters and for the achievement and maintenance of the good environmental status. It accomplished 7 surveys being 3 dedicated to the benthopelagic, 3 to the pelagic and 1 to the benthonic ecosystems. In collaboration with the SeaBioData project, a Database was created to store all information and data collected during the project which also includes VMS and AIS data. The specimens (and tissue) collected were organised in reference collections and were preserved according to international standards compatible with the long-term preservation of a natural history collection item. New information obtained during surveys on benthic communities of the seamounts demonstrated the presence of coral gardens and sponge grounds. Bathymetry models were developed based on historic and new data, which are an important baseline asset for the environmental characterization and management of the study areas. Visual and acoustic surveys for cetaceans, seabirds and marine turtles were conducted in the sampling area, to characterize biodiversity and spatial distribution at seamounts. Many protocols establishing procedures were produced for carrying out sampling on board and practical guides for the identification of species. The distribution and intensity of human pressures, particularly fishing, was assessed, identifying the different fleets operating in those areas, the spatial patterns of activity, and the characterization of their catches. A documentary after a survey onboard RV Noruega, 5 short educational videos, 1 educational kit on the Atlantic Seamounts and a board game were produced and are available online.
Summary of bilateral results
The IMR (Norway) was a key partner in all the Seminars and Workshops (4) organized under the framework of the BIOMETORE project and their active presence in all annual meetings, contributing to: 1. Contributing to the improvement of the video images analysis methodologies, e.g. Buhl-Mortensen L (2017) Planning and conducting video based habitat mapping – the IMR contribution to BIOMETORE. Open Day of BIOMETORE Project, IPMA, 28 April 2017 (http://www.biometore.pt/imgs/3_Lene_%20Template%20Open%20Day%20BIOMETOR…
) 2. Contributing to the production of the protocols and organizing the surveys. 3. Making available for the Portuguese Benthic team the participation in 2 Norwegian surveys, e.g. Henriques V, Gaudêncio MJ, Drago T (2015) Participation of IPMA researchers in the MAREANO campaign 2015-109 in the Barents Sea (Norway) onboard the R/V G.O.Sars. IPMA. July, 2015, 15 p. 4. As co-author in scientific papers, e.g. Lobo J, García-Alegre A, Guerra MT, Buhl-Mortensen L, Buhl-Mortensen P, Henriques V (2016). Preliminary characterization of the benthic biodiversity in the Madeira – Tore complex through the project BIOMETORE. Front. Mar. Sci. Conference Abstract: XIX Iberian Symposium on Marine Biology Studies. doi: 10.3389/conf.FMARS.2016.05.00143 (PDF in the scientific report annex). Bilateral relations were very important to the exchange of knowledge and experiences between the Portuguese and Norway partners. With the bilateral funds researchers from IPMA were able to participate in 2 research surveys on Norway waters to acquire important knowledge on how the benthic surveys are made by IMR. Also, the bilateral funds were used to organize workshops on marine resources and improve collaborations between IPMA and IMR, as well as for other Portuguese partners from the BIOMETORE consortium. Please see the scientific report for more information on this. All relevant examples are indicated in the scientific report.