Report of the Working Group on Marine Habitat Mapping (WGMHM) 21-24 April 2009

Although somewhat smaller international programmes are underway in Europe than in the past years, the importance of marine habitat mapping is being underpinned at European level by a) the upcoming MSFD (Marine Strategy Framework Directive) and b) the delivery in 2008 by Member States of the outlines of their Natura 2000 ex-tension to sea. These, along with a strong push towards the creation of MPA (Marine Protected Areas) in both the coastal zone and the deeper waters, are prompting the community towards the delivery of more habitat maps. As the territories increase in size and not all countries can follow the Irish or Norwegian examples blended ap-proaches of detailed surveys and interpretation and modelling techniques are in par-ticular focus. The group also called for developments to Eunis adapted to the way data are collected (namely with the advent of remote sensing) and to the way infor-mation has to be rendered according to specific users’ needs. The importance of ap-plying quality standards to better inform map users was also recalled. International programmes A few international programmes will be dealing with habitat mapping in 2009. This is the case for parts of Charm 3 (UK-France) extended to the whole Channel, for CoralFish (deep sea corals in relation with fisheries) and for Prehab (habitat model-ling and pressure of human activities in the Baltic Sea). A project called EuSeaMap is currently underway under JNCC lead to provide global models of several European marine basins. It is part of the Emodnet initiative launched by DG/MARE and it con-nects with other lots due to deliver several types of marine data sets over the next two years. A follow-up to Mesh (Mesh-Atlantic) applying to the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme will be submitted in June. Reporting on national programmes WGMHM has continued to review countries’ mapping endeavours which are found in various forms, from national programmes to more local projects. This forum is very important for members to keep mutually informed of their respective develop-ments. In order for the group to report on mapping progress, the National Status Re-ports have been requested from the 11 countries present. Following repeated past recommendations, it has been decided to organise NSRs slightly differently and, whilst continuing to report comprehensively in spreadsheet form, to visually demon-strate progress in habitat mapping by creating a webGIS with map outlines and asso-ciated metadata. Adequate tools will be developed by the ICES data management team and implementation is planned by the end of 2009. It is also planned to liaise with other expert groups that may have similar needs.
How to cite
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (2009). Report of the Working Group on Marine Habitat Mapping (WGMHM) 21-24 April 2009. European Commission. Ref. ICES CM 2009/MHC:07. 78p.

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