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STAGES Improves Knowledge on Status of EU waters

14 March 2014

EU - The EU's Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), adopted in 2008, is designed to deliver 'Good Environmental Status' (GES) in European marine waters by 2020. However, six years after the MSFD was launched, reports are revealing that most indicators are negative.

For example, 88 per cent of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and Black Sea are still under threat. Greater efforts are needed however EU countries are hampered by a significant knowledge deficit. STAGES is an FP7-funded project which aims to help countries to realise the aims of the MSFD by addressing this knowledge deficit.

STAGES ('Science and Technology Advancing Governance on good Environmental Status') is working to improve the marine-related scientific knowledge base to support the implementation of the MSFD.

It is doing so by developing a proposal for a science policy interface (SPI) that will help to bridge the science-policy gap when it comes to marine strategy in Europe. This involves identifying, extracting and synthesising the knowledge generated through EU and national research funded activities relating to the MSFD and making this information widely accessible.

Launched in September 2012, the project team has already completed a stakeholder consultation involving 113 representatives from science, industry, civil society, NGOs, and the national MSFD competent authorities and implementing agencies.

This was followed, in February 2014, by a workshop in Brussels focused on how to develop a science policy interface. The event proved an excellent opportunity for cooperation and pooling of ideas between projects working on marine strategy. STAGES was supported by fellow-FP7 project, DEVOTES ('DEVelopment Of innovative Tools for understanding marine biodiversity and assessing good Environmental Status') in the organisation of the workshop, and joined by representatives of other projects such as PERSEUS ('Policy-oriented marine Environmental Research in the Southern EUropean Seas'). The DEVOTES team had the opportunity to share tools that they have developed in their work on understanding the impacts of human activities and climate change on marine biodiversity, including a Catalogue of Monitoring Networks and a Catalogue of Indicators.

STAGES coordinator, Marisa Fernández explains the importance of the recent workshop in terms of the evolution of the project: "So far, STAGES has been successful in developing key outputs in terms of collection and synthesis of existing knowledge and identification of gaps and the need for further research. This workshop was a unique opportunity to get feedback from key MSFD stakeholders on how to develop an efficient and sustainable MSFD Science Policy Interface that channels knowledge from science to policy."

Views from the workshop will be used to help STAGES achieve one of its key objectives: the development of a proposal for a durable long-term European SPI to support implementation of the MSFD. STAGES is being carried out by a consortium of eight partners in seven countries and is coordinated by the Centro Tecnológico del Mar (CETMAR) in Spain.

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