The European Parliament Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development hosted the meeting ‘Healthier Oceans and Human Beings – Sponges as “engine” of the Deep Sea‘ on the 6th of November at the European Parliament. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ricardo Serrao Santos (MEP), chair of Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services Working Group and supported by Mr. Claus Hagebro, FAO.
Sponge grounds are one of the most diverse, ecologically and biologically important and vulnerable marine ecosystems of the deep-sea but have received very little research and conservation attention to date. At the meeting the SponGES project provided an overview of activities and preliminary scientific findings of the project. Biodiversity and the relevance to conservation, understanding function and importance of sponge grounds, threats and impacts – effects of fisheries and climate change and the biotechnology potential (BlueTech) were the issues. The presentations were followed by a lively and interesting discussion.
The aim of the meeting was to provide stakeholders and policy-makers with an understanding of the importance and fragility of deep-sea sponge ecosystems, their potential and the need to take appropriate management measures to sustainably use and protect those areas from potential impacts due to uses, such as e.g. fishing. It is expected that the research can support key policies and legislation, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the EU Maritime Strategy for the Atlantic Ocean Area and other international agreements established to conserve Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and Ecologically or Biologically Sensitive Areas (EBSAs).
Have a look at the photo gallery of this event here.