Study Determines Environmental Stressors of Mediterranean and Black Seas

More than 200 scientists from over 20 countries around the Mediterranean and Black Seas gathered in Barcelona last week to share the results of their joint work, which summarized on a regional and basin scale the environmental "stressors" on which the scientific research of PERSEUS will focus intensively over the next three years.

During the research, some of the main environmental "stressors" that were identified as fisheries, maritime transport, land-based pollutants from industry and agriculture, oil, gas and mineral exploration and exploitation including oil spills. By understanding the links between these "stressors" and their outcomes, scientists aim to provide insights and recommendations that will significantly improve and even restore the strained ecosystems of the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

The scientists met from the 22nd to the 25th January, in the framework of the EU-funded project called 'PERSEUS' which stands for 'Policy-oriented marine Environmental Research in the Southern EUropean Seas'.

The PERSEUS Project Coordinator, Dr. Evangelos Papathanassiou, from the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research says: "We are applying the 80/20 rule to our approach. We are really focusing our research on the 'critical 20 percent' aspects of the 'stressors', that, if limited or modified, can result in the '80% difference' for restoring the ecosystems of our seas."

"Scientists will be challenged to define what "sustainable" means for these two seas. It is clear that getting the balance right between environmental and economic considerations is a continuous work in progress, but it is also clear that scientists need to help policymakers understand that "business as usual" is no longer an option.

Rosa Mari Darbra, professor from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the UPC and co-organizer of the meeting, explains than: "the PERSEUS workshop and General Assembly have been a success as many international researchers have exchanged their knowledge in order to improve the environmental quality of the Mediterranean and Black seas. The protection of these seas is of high relevance due to their geographical position and the socio-economic benefits they provide to the inhabitants of these areas. The results of this first year of research have been very useful to establish the basis for future work and to unify different approaches with the final aim of achieving a good environmental status of the aforementioned seas and helping the EU countries to implement the Marine Strategy Framework Directive".