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Cefas Eutrophication Monitoring for Marine

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Cefas Eutrophication Monitoring for Marine

We collect samples of fish and water, track the movements of fish, visualise and assess the marine environment, and classify samples using molecular and microscopic techniques. To monitor water quality across all parts of the ocean, we use a range of platforms including the RV Cefas Endeavour, Smart Buoys and unmanned area vehicles and satellite imagery (Figure 1).

Figure 1 – A algal bloom seen from space across the North Sea.

Monitoring eutrophication in UK marine waters – changing the way we do business

For eutrophication, it is important to understand the long-term changes in our coastal and marine water quality, and if those changes are related to human activities. We work with the environment agencies to improve water quality and to make sure that we do not impact on our important coastal and marine ecosystems. Our work is driven by policies such as the UK Marine Strategy and the EU Marine Strategy Framework and OSPAR Comprehensive strategy. To enable the UK government to successfully implement these strategies and measure their progress Cefas has taken a leading role in developing methods and technologies to innovate and improve the efficiency of monitoring programmes, both in the UK and beyond.

One of our challenges has been to respond to shifts in our understanding of eutrophication, and how we can become more confident in our national assessments by better use of high frequency data, improved technology and working across the catchment to coast contiuum. For example, we are, under OSPAR, moving to a more harmonised approach in the development of common indicators, data and assessment areas for our reporting and to achieve greater spatial coverage of all our marine reporting regions. Higher data frequency over these reporting areas and through different time periods makes it easier to understand if changes are occurring and what we need to do to mitigate problems and to protect areas that have high ecological value.

We need to report our outcomes based on specific areas

The UK, alongside JMP Eunosat (a research program) and the OSPAR member states, have agreed to a new set of assessment areas, reflecting improvements in harmonisation, modelling, and expert agreements, as the reporting  framework for upcoming assessments. The new assessment areas represent updates in our knowledge around common traits and conditions within each reporting area (Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Assessment areas

The Cefas team and sampling water quality in our marine waters

To examine how the data Cefas collects can contribute to eutrophication assessments under these newly defined areas, we analysed the sampling undertaken November 2018 to November 2019 for frequency and spatial coverage during the different assessment periods. The Cefas team collected water quality data through SmartBuoys, Ferrybox and in-situ sampling (Figure 3).

Figures 3 – A set of Niskin bottles and the Cefas scientists ready for water quality sampling.

To read the full report, please click here.

For more information, see Cefas's webpages on Marine MonitoringObserving the UK Shelf Seas, and OSPAR's Eutrophication strategy.


Posted by on Thu, 26 Nov 2020

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