Workshop on scoping for benthic pressure layers D6C2 - from methods to operational data product (WKBEDPRES1)
The workshop on scoping benthic pressure layers D6C2 – methods to operational data products (WKBEDPRES1), chaired by Phillip Boulcott (UK, Scotland) – met at ICES Headquarters on 24 October – 26 October 2018. The workshop was attended by 24 participants from 10 countries, including representatives from DGENV, the EEA, HELCOM, OSPAR and various EU-funded projects, as well as the ICES Data Centre and various ICES Working Groups.
WKBEDPRES is part of a stepwise process to delivering advice on sea-floor integrity for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). In collaboration with its strategic partners, the high level objectives undertaken by ICES within the project were: 1) to identify benthic physical disturbance pressure layers available within ICES and the European and wider marine community across four EU regions – including the mapping of pertinent data flows and the establishment of criteria needed to ensure the practical use of the data in assessing benthic impact – in the workshop WKBED-PRES1 (ICES HQ 24-26 Oct); 2) to collate benthic physical disturbance pressure layer data (Oct 2018 – Aug 2019) in collaboration, using identified sources and targeted data calls; and 3) to evaluate and test operationally the application of compiled benthic physical disturbance pressure layers (WKBEDPRES2, tbc in Sept/Oct 2019).
WKBEDPRES1 focused on objective 1, the requirement of MSFD GES Decision criterion D6C2 to assess the spatial extent and distribution of physical disturbance pressures for each MSFD broad habitat type, within each ecoregion and subdivision. Where information on activities was missing, or where the data collected was not suitable to this task, data requirements were highlighted by workshop participants. This process necessitated input from many sources, bringing together research science, marine spatial planning, and indicator research required for the delivery of MSFD. The resultant collated information needs to be appropriate for the assessment of benthic habitats (D1) and seafloor integrity (D6) as set out in the Commission Decision (EU) 2017/848.
The scoping exercise employed within WKBEDPRES1 used expert led discussion groups, variously split according to subject, to address four ToRs laid out in the re-quest. Where rankings of activities and pressures were required, expert judgement was relied upon. Through this process the workshop identified the main human activities relevant to benthic physical disturbance, mapped potential data sources and flows that could inform the extent of this pressure, set out criteria necessary for the assessment of physical disturbance, and examined the possible assessment units used within the assessment.
WKBEDPRES1 found that the key human activities that resulted in physical disturbance on the seabed were similar for the 4 EU regions examined, with fishing found to be the most extensive cause of physical abrasion, with aggregate extraction and dredging also of relevance in most regions but much less extensive. Data flows and quantitative methodologies for the processing of physical disturbance from bottom fishing currently exist within ICES and were deemed appropriate by WKBEDPRES1 for the purposes of assessment. These methodologies are in line with previous ICES guidance (ICES 2016, 2017), as they utilise quantitative metrics in their estimation, and are operable over different assessment units.
It is recommended that where only qualitative activity data is available, the assessment of such activities should be run in parallel to the quantitative assessment. However, further model parameterisation could enable the inclusion of additional abrasion activities into the assessment, allowing the assessment of physical disturbance activities in a cumulative manner. Smothering effects of human activities can also be included in quantitative assessment method given suitable parameterisation and the development of relevant data flows.
Prior to the second workshop, WKBEDPRES2, in August 2019, the necessary steps will be taken to collate benthic physical disturbance pressure layers using sources and targeted data calls in section 4.2-4.6. This data call will be tested within WKBED-PRES2 and within WGFBIT.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee