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The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires Member States to achieve good en- vironmental status (GES) across their marine waters. The EU have requested ICES to advise on methods for assessing adverse effects on seabed habitats, through selection of relevant indicators for the assessment of benthic habitats and seafloor integrity and associated threshold values for GES in relation to Descriptor 6 – Seabed integrity under the MFSD. Two sets of criteria were developed to evaluate indicators and thresholds respectively for eval- uation of suitability for assessing GES. 16 indicator and 12 threshold criteria were compiled and weighted by importance. The criteria were designed for evaluation at a subregional or regional level. The scoring for these criteria is meant as a guidance when choosing indicators and thresh- olds, so failure to meet one criterion will not necessarily prevent the use of the indicator or thresh- old in an assessment. The framework was evaluated for 6 indicators and for 11 methods for set- ting thresholds. The criteria were found to be useful for evaluation both indicators and thresh- olds. The process works most consistently when there are experts in the group on both the crite- ria themselves and on the indicators and thresholds. The MFSD Descriptor 6 determination of GES needs both a quality threshold (when are seabed habitats in a good state in a specific location) and an extent threshold (proportion of the assess- ment area that needs to have seabed habitats in good state). Eleven different methods for setting thresholds were identified, of which more are suitable for setting quality than for extent thresh- olds. Preferred methods identified an ecologically-motivated difference between a good and de- graded state, rather than another transition. Quality thresholds based on the lower boundary of the range of natural variation were considered most promising. This approach can be used for most, but not all, indicators. The WK collated a standardized dataset to test the specificity, sensitivity and/or responsiveness of sampling-based benthic indicators to pressure gradients for evaluation by WKBENTH3. Risk- based methods will be evaluated as maps and by scored sensitivity and impact score per MSFD habitat type and subdivision. Participants provided input into the selection of indicators for the compilation of indicators. A template was developed for documenting the characteristics of each indicator to facilitate the evaluation of the indicators.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Mastersthesis Reference Long-term impacts of offshore wind farms presence on benthic communities in the Belgian part of the North Sea
This study investigates the long-term impacts of offshore wind farms (OWFs) on macrobenthic communities at a far distance (250-500 m) from wind turbines in the C-Power offshore wind farm, on the ThorntonBank (Belgian Part of the North Sea) over a time span of 15 years (2005- 2020). We anticipated that due to the changes in hydrodynamics around wind turbines, together with the increase in depositional flow of faecal pellets produced by filter-feeding epifauna living on the foundation of the wind turbine, there will be an increase in macrobenthic abundance and species richness, as well as a shift in macrobenthos community composition. We also hypothesized that owing to fishery exclusion in offshore wind farms concession areas the ThorntonBank (impact area) and GooteBank (reference area) would grow apart from each other in terms of abundance and species richness, as well as in terms of species composition. Our 15 years analysis supported the hypothesis of an increase in macrobenthic abundance and species richness as fine sediment fraction and total organic matter content increase within the sediment of OWFs. The appearance and subsequent increase in Terebellidae sp. and Ophelia borealis suggested a shift in macrobenthos community composition when compared to the baseline study of 2005. However, changes in macrobenthic abundance, species richness and species composition were observed on both sandbanks, suggesting that either human activities that once took place on the GooteBank affected the communities there, or adding wind turbine does not generate strong impacts on macrobenthic communities. The observed fluctuations over the years could then be due to normal fluctuations in macrobenthos, or that other factors are at play such as climate change. However, in order to confirm these statements, additional studies on macrobenthos within the Belgian Part of the North Sea should be done on the long term. Further analysis should also be carried out in order to confirm the potential shift from a Nepthys cirrosa community toward an Abra alba community
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference Organic matter processing in a [simulated] offshore wind farm ecosystem in current and future climate and aquaculture scenarios
The rapid development of blue economy and human use of offshore space triggered the concept of co-location of ma- rine activities and is causing diverse local pressures on the environment. These pressures add to, and interact with, global challenges such as ocean acidification and warming. This study investigates the combined pressures of climate change and the planned co-location of offshore wind farm (OWF) and aquaculture zones on the carbon flow through epifaunal communities inhabiting wind turbines in the North Sea. A 13 C-labelled phytoplankton pulse-chase experi- ment was performed in mesocosms (4 m 3 ) holding undisturbed hard-substrate (HS) communities, natural sediment with infauna, and mobile invertebrate predators. Carbon assimilation was quantified under current and predicted future-climate conditions (+3 °C and −0.3 pH units), as well as a future-climate co-use scenario with blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) aquaculture. Climate change induced an increase in macrofaunal carbon assimilation as well as an organic enrichment of underlying sediments. Dynamic (non-)trophic links between M. edulis and other HS epifauna resulted in shifts among the species contributing most to the phytoplankton-derived carbon flow across climate scenar- ios. Increased inter- and intraspecific resource competition in the presence of M. edulis aquaculture prevented a large increase in the total assimilation of phytoplankton by HS fauna. Lower individual carbon assimilation rates by both mussels and other epifauna suggest that if filter capacity by HS epifauna would approach renewal by advection/ mixing, M. edulis individuals would likely grow to a smaller-than-desired commercial size. In the same scenario, ben- thic organic carbon mineralisation was significantly boosted due to increased organic matter deposition by the aqua- culture set-up. Combining these results with in situ OWF abundance data confirmed M. edulis as the most impactful OWF AHS species in terms of (total) carbon assimilation as well as the described stress responses due to climate change and the addition of bivalve aquaculture.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Mastersthesis Reference Effect of pile driving on the seasonal and geographical distribution of the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phoecoena) in the Belgian Part of the North Sea
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Inbook Reference Energy (including cables and pipes)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Inbook Reference Energie (inclusief kabels en leidingen)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: Opportunities and challenges on the path towards biodiversity recovery
The European Union (EU) has committed to an ambitious biodiversity recovery plan in its Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the Green Deal. These policies aim to halt biodiversity loss and move towards sustainable development, focusing on restoring degraded habitats, extending the network of protected areas (PAs), and improving the effectiveness of management, governance, and funding. The achievement of conservation goals must be founded on understanding past successes and failures. Here, we summarise the strengths and weaknesses of past EU biodiversity conservation policies and practices and explore future opportunities and challenges. We focus on four main aspects: i) coordination among and within the EU Member States, ii) integration of biodiversity conservation into socio-economic sectors, iii) adequacy and sufficiency of funds, and iv) governance and stakeholder participation.Whilst past conservation efforts have benefitted from common rules across the EU and funding mechanisms, they have failed at operationalizing coordination within and across the Member States, integrating biodiversity conservation into other sectoral policies, adequately funding and effectively enforcing management, and facilitating stakeholder participation in decision-making. Future biodiversity conservation would benefit from an extended and better-managed network of PAs, additional novel funding opportunities, including the private sector, and enhanced co-governance. However, it will be critical to find sustainable solutions to potential conflicts between conservation goals and other socio-economic objectives and to resolve inconsistencies across sectoral policies.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference International assessment of priority environmental issues for land-based and offshore wind energy development
Abstract Non-technical summary A substantial increase in wind energy deployment worldwide is required to help achieve international targets for decreasing global carbon emissions and limiting the impacts of climate change. In response to global concerns regarding the environmental effects of wind energy, the International Energy Agency Wind Technical Collaborative Program initiated Task 34 – Working Together to Resolve Environmental Effects of Wind Energy or WREN. As part of WREN, this study performed an international assessment with the global wind energy and environmental community to determine priority environmental issues over the next 5‒10 years and help support collaborative interactions among researchers, developers, regulators, and stakeholders. Technical summary A systematic assessment was performed using feedback from the international community to identify priority environmental issues for land-based and offshore wind energy development. Given the global nature of wind energy development, feedback was of interest from all countries where such development is underway or planned to help meet United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change targets. The assessment prioritized environmental issues over the next 5–10 years associated with wind energy development and received a total of 294 responses from 28 countries. For land-based wind, the highest-ranked issues included turbine collision risk for volant species (birds and bats), cumulative effects on species and ecosystems, and indirect effects such as avoidance and displacement. For offshore wind, the highest-ranked issues included cumulative effects, turbine collision risk, underwater noise (e.g. marine mammals and fish), and displacement. Emerging considerations for these priorities include potential application to future technologies (e.g. larger turbines and floating turbines), new stressors and species in frontier regions, and cumulative effects for multiple projects at a regional scale. For both land-based and offshore wind, effectiveness of minimization measures (e.g. detection and deterrence technologies) and costs for monitoring, minimization, and mitigation were identified as overarching challenges. Social media summary Turbine collisions and cumulative effects among the international environmental priorities for wind energy development.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference From plate to plug: The impact of offshore renewables on European fisheries and the role of marine spatial planning
Offshore renewables (OR), such as offshore wind farms, are a key pillar to address increasing energy demands and the global transition to a carbon-free power sector. The transition to ever more occupied marine spaces, often facilitated by marine spatial planning (MSP), increases the conflict potential with free ranging marine sectors such as fisheries. Here, we quantified for the first time the direct impact of current and future OR development on fisheries across European seas. We defined direct impact as the average annual fishing effort (h) overlapping with OR planning sites and applied an ensemble approach by deploying and harmonising various fisheries data to optimise spatial coverage for the European seas. The North Sea region will remain the centre of OR development for a long time, but a substantial increase of conflict potential between these sectors will also occur in other European sea basins after 2025. Across all sea basins, fishing fleets deploying bottom contacting gears targeting flatfish and crustaceans are and will be affected the most by the already constructed and planned OR. Our results provide a solid basis towards an understanding of the socio-economic effects of OR development on European fisheries. We argue that European MSP processes need to adopt common strategies to produce standardised and harmonised socio-economic data to understand implications of OR on free-ranging marine activities such as fisheries.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inbook Reference Executive summary: Attraction, avoidance and habitat use at various spatial scales
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021