SUPER COBAM WORKSHOP AND REPORT
NEA PANACEA’s SuperCOBAM workshop was held from 20 to 22 October 2021 at Rijkswaterstaat’s LEF Future Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Participation of this workshop consisted of 25 persons that were physically present and an online group of 40 persons.
During these three days the participants worked towards the delivery of assessments of the status of biodiversity in the North East Atlantic Ocean for OSPAR’s Quality Status Report due in 2023. These assessments in turn can be used to feed into the reporting for EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive for those OSPAR Contracting Parties that are also EU member states.
The workshop was organized by the NEA PANACEA project (funded by EU’s DG Environment) with support from Rijkswaterstaat and the LEF future center. The organizing team consisted of NEA PANACEA’s Activity 5 (Evert Jan van den Berg, Lyke Bosma, Lisette Enserink and Jos Schilder, during the workshop kindly supported by René Dekeling) with professional support from moderator Marinda Hall.
NEA PANACEA is an EU-funded project in which 8 partners from 5 OSPAR Contracting Parties (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands) collaborate to deliver biodiversity assessments for OSPAR’s Quality Status Report (QSR) 2023. Our focus lies specifically on pelagic habitats, benthic habitats, food webs and marine birds assessments. These assessments can be used by EU member states in the North East Atlantic region to inform their reporting to the EU for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). We work on the development of new biodiversity indicators as well as on the improvement of existing ones, for example in terms of data flow, indicator operability, expansion of geographical coverage or the development of threshold values. In addition, we explore what the best ways are to integrate multiple indicators to deliver a single integrated assessment of a specific ecosystem component (e.g. pelagic habitats).
NEA PANACEA also pays special attention to the coherence between state (biodiversity) and pressure (most notably eutrophication and climate change) assessments. Examples of questions we address are: Do we assess state and pressure on similar (comparable) scales? Are the threshold values (below or above which “good status” is achieved) for pressure and state compatible? Does the information from state assessments optimally flow into the (integrated) state assessments? To this end OSPAR’s biodiversity experts join forces in this project with OSPAR’s eutrophication modelling experts.
NEA PANACEA also aims to have value for those members of the OSPAR family that are not directly involved. In addition to delivering assessments that are of use to all OSPAR Contracting Parties, and especially for those that are also EU Member States, NEA PANACEA will organize two 3-day workshops in which the wider OSPAR community can interact and work together on the QSR products. We also aim to organize a workshop dedicated to the exchange of experience and information about marine birds between the 4 European regional sea conventions.
ABOUT NEA PANACEA
NEA PANACEA is an Action funded by the European Union's Directorate-General Environment through the call Marine Strategy Framework Directive: Support to the Preparation of the Next 6-year Cycle of Implementation (DG ENV/MSFD 2020). The acrocnym stands for North East Atlantic project on biodiversity and eutrophication assessment integration and creation of effective measures.
NEA PANACEA was proposed by a consortium of 8 beneficiaries from 5 OSPAR Contracting Parties: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. It represents a regionally (OSPAR) coordinated effort to deliver elements for the 2024 MSFD article 8 assessment through OSPAR’s 2023 Quality Status Report (QSR). It aims to (further) develop and deliver 9 OSPAR indicator assessments (3 pelagic habitats, 1 food webs, 4 benthic habitats and 1 marine bird assessment), work to contribute to the establishment of regional threshold values, and efforts to take climate change impacts into account in the assessments. Furthermore, the Action seeks to deliver the integrated assessment of state through the OSPAR QSR thematic assessments of pelagic habitats, benthic habitats and marine birds.
It will progress work within the relevant OSPAR expert groups and will seek to coordinate and facilitate collaboration with the other OSPAR expert groups that deliver the QSR through the organization of joint workshops. By delivering these thematic assessments, NEA PANACEA will contribute to the evaluation of the effectiveness of past measures in the OSPAR area and it also proposes work designed to identify the potential of future measures to manage human activities that impact the seafloor.
Taking into account current developments in the EU Common Implementation Strategy process on the topic of horizontal, or cross-cutting issues, this Action also includes efforts to integrate the assessments of state and pressure, with a special focus on coherence between baseline and threshold setting methods and involving eutrophication and ecosystem modeling experts together with biodiversity and food web experts.
In addition, multiple Tasks have explicit intentions to reach out to other sea regions to exchange information and promote between-region coherence.
NEA PANACEA (North East Atlantic project on biodiversity and eutrophication assessment integration and creation of effective measures).
01 March 2021 - 28 February 2023
€ 1.211.352,50 (€ 969.082 EU contribution)
Jos Schilder, Rijkswaterstaat (NL), firstname.lastname@example.org
NEA PANACEA’s work is divided in four working themes and executed by five so-called Activities (see further below), each of which will work on a number (three to seven) of Tasks. Each Activity operates as a functional unit within the Action, which is overseen by the Action Management, consisting of representatives from each Activity.
The four working themes represent the main focus points of NEA PANACEA. The first focus point is Indicator development, which includes developing new (candidate) indicators and improving existing indicators. Topics range from monitoring strategy to data collection and management and indicator methodology. The second focus point is Improving assessments and promoting coherence. This involves developing threshold values and considering how threshold values of related indicators correspond to one another, investigating the optimal scales of assessment and especially how these can be aligned between assessments. A specific effort is being made in NEA PANACEA to increase coherence between eutrophication and biodiversity indicators and link the respective assessments in the QSR, and to better incorporate climate change in the assessments. Third, the Delivery of (integrated) assessments for the MSFD and the QSR is an important component of the deliverables of NEA PANACEA. Fourth, the Link to measures is made by assessing the effectiveness of measures in the OSPAR thematic biodiversity (pelagic habitats, benthic habitats and marine birds) assessments and by providing a knowledge base for future measures, specifically aimed at sea floor integrity.
Overview of the structure of the Action. The Action consists of 23 Tasks, represented by the numbers in the boxes, that are executed by 5 Activities (columns). Every task works towards the achievement of one or more working themes (rows). The working themes are an expression of the main focus points of this Action.
The 5 NEA PANACEA Activities are:
Activity 1 - Pelagic Habitats (5 Tasks)
Through this Activity the OSPAR pelagic habitats expert group aims to not only deliver assessments of, but also increase the spatial scale and both temporal and taxonomic resolution of the OSPAR pelagic habitat indicators PH1, PH2 and PH3 (see Figure above), improve indicator operability and provide improvements of the data ingestion protocols involved. Furthermore, the Activity will employ a spatial modelling approach to determine the most ecologically relevant scales in the relationship between activities, pressures and impacts on pelagic habitats.
The Pelagic Habitats Activity aims to link climate change and other pressures (such as eutrophication) to OSPAR’s pelagic habitats (and food web) indicators PH1/FW5, PH2 and PH3 in order to link up to processes where management measures may be taken (and evaluated). In addition, the harmonization of assessment areas with those used in OSPAR’s eutrophication assessments will be explored to potentially improve the quality of such evaluations in close collaboration with Activity 2 (Eutrophication). Through integration of the output of the three pelagic habitat indicators for the thematic assessment in pelagic habitats, and also through seeking to integrate these indicators with other assessments (such as food webs and eutrophication), the Pelagic Habitats Activity aims to provide further insight into how the assessed organism respond to pressures and measures undertaken to reduce them.
Activity 1 is comprised of the following 5 Tasks:
- Task 1.1: Expanding data coverage and developing data tools to support robust assessment;
- Task 1.2: Refinement, operationalisation, and assessment of OSPAR’s pelagic habitats (and food web) indicator PH1/FW5: Change in plankton communities;
- Task 1.3: Refinement, operationalisation and assessment of OSPAR’s pelagic habitats indicators PH2: Change in plankton biomass and abundance and PH3: Change in plankton diversity;
- Task 1.4: Integration within and across pelagic indicators;
- Task 1.5: Linking pelagic indicators with food web indicators and their connection to other ecosystem components and MSFD-descriptors.
Activity 2 - Eutrophication and physical conditions (4 Tasks)
This Activity aims to improve coherence in assessments between MSFD-Descriptors, specifically eutrophication and biodiversity. We will use tools and approaches developed in a previous EU-funded MSFD project Joint Monitoring Programme of the Eutrophication of the North Sea with Satellite data to identify ecologically relevant scales and areas for the assessment of pelagic and benthic habitats. Furthermore, Activity 2 applies literature-based model tools developed in Research and Development projects funded by the German Environment Agency to link eutrophication and climate scenarios to biodiversity and food web indicators. The Activity will contribute to the QSR 2023 food web assessment by operationalization of ecological network analysis (OSPAR indicator FW9). The general idea is that physical and low-trophic level information, both modeled and observed, as well as the investigation of predator-prey relationships can help to understand changes in biodiversity indicators and ecosystem functioning.
Integrated modelling and fluxes between the Deltares ecosystem model, ENA and LiACAT and relationships with other Activities in this Action.
Partners and subcontractors are involved in OSPAR’s eutrophication and food web assessments and some of them have collaborated in JMP EUNOSAT. The team brings integration and innovation to the action through the following tasks:
- Task 2.1: Linking eutrophication and climate scenarios to biodiversity and food web indicators by the model tool LiACAT (Literature-based Analysis and Cumulative Assessment Tool);
- Task 2.2: Operationalisation and assessment of OSPAR food web indicator FW9: Ecological Network Analysis (ENA);
- Task 2.3: Identification of ecologically-relevant scales and areas for assessment of pelagic and benthic habitats;
- Task 2.4: Setting methods towards coherent threshold values and writing the Activity 2 synthesis report.
Activity 3 - Benthic habitats and sea floor integrity (7 Tasks)
Drawing on the latest indicator developments, Activity 3 will undertake an integrated thematic assessment of the status of North-East Atlantic benthic habitat quality and develop and implement a new assessment method. Furthermore, the effectiveness of existing measures will be evaluated, with the aim of identifying potential future measures to manage human activities that impact the seafloor. Activity 3 will also produce a review of Member States’ reported definitions of Good Environmental Status (GES) for D1D6 (benthic habitats), in link with MSFD Descriptors D4 (food webs) and D5 (eutrophication), and will establish links within and between benthic habitat and eutrophication assessments.
The partners in this Benthic Habitats Activity are also OSPAR benthic habitat indicator leads, ensuring that products from this project will complement the ongoing work in OSPAR, and that the products will be fed into the OSPAR process (from scientific technical proposals to policy buy-in and implementation of action plans). Additional dedicated meetings, expert and post-doctoral time and travel resources would enable to have mid-term dedicated workshops additional to the current annual benthic and COBAM expert groups, which means at least 4 physical benthic workshops in the next 2 years. All of the work proposed in this Activity will be reviewed in the OSPAR Benthic Habitats Expert Group (OBHEG) and other benthic experts’ group (e.g. ICES).
The work of Activity 3 is captured in the following tasks
- Task 3.1: Review of MSFD GES national reporting for D6 versus OSPAR indicators and relationships with D4 and D5;
- Task 3.2: Final development and first assessment of the Sentinels of Seabed indicator (BH1);
- Task 3.3: Update OSPAR BH2a benthic habitats indicator assessment and explore how it can inform or be integrated with other assessments linked to eutrophication or coastal habitats;
- Task 3.4: Expansion and operationalisation of the OSPAR Extent of Physical Damage benthic habitats indicator (BH3);
- Task 3.5: Evaluate the use of the Extent of Physical Damage indicator BH3 and other OSPAR information to guide assessment of effectiveness of management measures;
- Task 3.6: Development and first assessment of OSPAR indicator Area of habitat loss (BH4): Case study of OSPAR region II (Greater North Sea);
- Task 3.7: Production of the North-East Atlantic benthic habitats’ thematic assessment.
Activity 4 - Marine birds (4 Tasks)
Photograph by Ian Mitchell
Activity 4 will deliver a Thematic Assessment of marine birds in the Northeast Atlantic for the OSPAR QSR2023. This will include an integrated assessment of Good Environmental Status (GES) in marine birds (task 4.2) and an assessment of pressures on marine birds and of the effectiveness of measures that have been put in place to reduce them (task 4.3). These assessments will be undertaken for each OSPAR Region and for each of the four European marine sub-regions of the Northeast Atlantic.
The integrated assessment of GES will be derived from status assessments of each marine bird species. Species assessments will be based on indicators of the MSFD biodiversity criteria (according to Commission Decision EU 2017/848). Task 4.1 will produce an assessment of the OSPAR Common Indicator on breeding productivity, which will be used for criterion D1C3 (demography). The results from Task 4.1 on productivity will be combined with those of other OSPAR indicator assessments (e.g. OSPAR Common Indicator on Marine Bird Abundance) that are being conducted outside NEA PANACEA.
The work will be delivered in close collaboration with the OSPAR/HELCOM/ICES Working Group on Marine Birds (JWGBIRD). Task 3.4 will aim to contribute to the assessment of GES in marine birds in other marine regions by delivering the outputs of this activity to a specially convened workshop of seabird experts from all four European Regions, called JWGBIRD-plus. The workshop will explore the synergies and differences between GES assessments of marine birds in the four European Marine Regions. It will produce an action plan detailing priorities for future co-working and establishing best practice.
Photograph by Matt Parsons
Activity 4 tasks are as follows:
Task 4.1 - Marine Bird Breeding Productivity Indicator
Task 4.2 - Integrated assessment of GES in marine birds
Task 4.3 - Integrated assessment of pressures on marine birds and effectiveness of measures
Task 4.4 – JWGBIRD-plus workshop
Activity 5 - Coordination and integration (3 Tasks)
Activity 5 is tasked with (supporting) the administrative duties associated with the funding received, (supporting) the delivery of the reports, and convening the Action management Group that oversees the progress of the Action. In addition, Activity 5 will seek to share information with the relevant bodies both in OSPAR and the EU, and serve as contact point of the Action. It will organize the kick-off, final, SuperCOBAM and UltraCOBAM meetings. Finally, it is responsible for monitoring and, if needed, driving efforts towards integration (linking) of assessments.
Activity 1 – Pelagic Habitats
Activity 2 –Eutrophication and physical conditions
- LiACAT (pressure-state) and ENA (foodweb) model analyses for Eutrophication and Climate Change scenarios. This involves analyses of potential cumulative effects of human induced pressures and natural physical conditions on higher trophic levels.
- Evaluation of applicability of OSPAR’s eutrophication assessment scales, which are based on general physical characteristics and algal biomass/primary production, for pelagic and benthic habitats and foodweb indicator assessments.
- Inventory of baseline and threshold value setting methods used or considered in D1/6 (pelagic and benthic habitats, birds), D4 and D5 assessments.
- Joint list of feasible options to improve coherence of these methods within and between these Descriptors.
- Final report as synthesis with exchange from pelagic and benthic Activities, incl. feedback into OSPAR’s eutrophication assessment.
- Dissemination and exchange of the work within OSPAR and with the MSFD CIS process.
Activity 3 – Benthic Habitats
- Review of interpretation and implementation of GES in the MSFD for descriptor D6 across member states, also with a view to inform assessments of D1, D4 and D5.
- Updated CEMP guideline (report on indicator methodology) for BH1.
- Delivery of BH1 indicator in QSR2023 (which is a novel element compared to the 2017 intermediate assessment) and the thematic assessment therein
- Updated CEMP guideline (report on indicator methodology) for BH2.
- Delivery of BH2a indicator assessment in QSR2023, including clear links to pressure (eutrophication), benthic habitat thematic assessment and operational assessments of the WFD.
- Updated CEMP guideline (report on indicator methodology) for BH3.
- Delivery of the BH3 indicator assessment, integrating other activities as sources of physical pressure for QSR2023 (novel elements compared to 2017) and the thematic assessment therein.
- Reports and maps on scenarios according to various options of thresholds and disturbance categories for BH3 indicator. This provides important information to guide management of anthropogenic pressures and activities, and will be forwarded to relevant committees in OSPAR.
- Updated CEMP guideline (report on indicator methodology) for BH4.
- Delivery of BH4 indicator in QSR2023 (which is a novel element compared to the 2017 intermediate assessment) and the thematic assessment therein.
- Task 7: Methods to integrate the various benthic habitat indicator assessments in the QSR2023 benthic habitat thematic assessment, linking multiple pressures to status and assessing the status on a large geographical scale.
- Delivery of the benthic habitats thematic assessment for QSR2023.
Activity 4 – Marine birds
- OSPAR Common Indicator on marine bird breeding success (D1C3) in four sub-regions of the Northeast Atlantic, published as part of the OSPAR QSR2023 – this will deliver an improved indicator methodology (A4), improved threshold values (B2) and an article 8 indicator assessment (C1). It will demonstrate innovation in threshold setting techniques and regional scale geographical coverage in its application.
- Integrated assessment of GES in marine birds in four sub-regions of the Northeast Atlantic, published as part of the thematic assessment of biodiversity in the OSPAR QSR2023 (C2). It will demonstrate innovation in integration techniques and regional scale geographical coverage in its application.
- Assessment of pressures on marine birds in the North East Atlantic and of the effectiveness of measures, published as part of the thematic assessment of biodiversity in the OSPAR QSR2023 (C3, D).
- JWGBIRD-plus workshop report detailing synergies and differences between GES assessments of marine birds in the four Regions. This will provide capacity to involve and promote dialogue and cooperation with relevant stakeholders across the four regions. It will also create an action plan detailing priorities for future co-working and establishing best practice.
Activity 5 – Coordination and integration
- Overall Report; In the Overall report: Section on integration of indicators
- Administrative and Financial reports to the Commission
- (Written or oral) Presentation of Action plan (2021), progress (2022) and results (2023) at OSPAR BDC, OSPAR HASEC, OSPAR ICG-QSR and EU-MSCG
- (If applicable) Web meetings with projects with similar aims in other sea regions, such as HELCOM, to exchange ideas and results
- SuperCOBAM and UltraCOBAM workshops
- SuperCOBAM and UltraCOBAM workshop reports
Due to the current travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic the frequency and format of the meetings is still unclear. Each Activity has frequent ad hoc-meetings whenever the work requires one, typically making use of digital communication platforms. In addition, the so-called Action Management (consisting of the project coordinating team and the Activity leads) convenes through video conference every other month to discuss and monitor the Action's progress.
NEA PANACEA is foreseen to have a kick-off meeting and final meeting at the start and end of the Action, both of which are foreseen to be through video conference. Furthermore, three physical meetings are envisioned within the project. Two are inspired by the 2019 S.U.P.E.R.-COBAM meeting in Paris that brought together all OSPAR ICG-COBAM expert groups, and are intended to promote collaboration in the process towards the delivery of the Quality Status Report of 2023: SuperCOBAM and UltraCOBAM. The third meeting is dubbed "JWGBIRD-plus" and is aiming to bring together the wider EU bird monitoring network to work on harmonization of future work.
NEA PANACEA will provide the venue for a 3-day workshop, SuperCOBAM, where the OSPAR expert groups on biodiversity monitoring and assessment (ICG-COBAM) and eutrophication (ICG-Eut) can meet to discuss and deliver products on the integrated assessment of state indicators for the QSR2023. OSPAR biodiversity monitoring and assessment expert groups not involved in this Action will also be invited to this workshop. This meeting is expected to support early alignment of indicator and thematic assessments within and between the MSFD Descriptors D1 (biodiversity), D4 (food webs), D6 (sea floor integrity) and D5 (eutrophication) and to prevent expert groups working in isolation. If you want to receive the save-the-date and stay tuned, please contact evertjan.vanden.berg(at)rws.nl.
NEA PANACEA is committed to organize a large (40-60 persons) 3-day workshop (UltraCOBAM) that involves not only biodiversity monitoring and eutrophication experts, but also OSPAR experts on the various pressures and impacts on the marine ecosystem to work jointly on advancement on the integrated assessment of the marine environment, contributing to the QSR2023 thematic assessments. The organization aims to find a location in the Netherlands where attendants can work, sleep and eat, and aims to cover for these expenses.
Activity 4 (marine birds) will convene a workshop of seabird experts from all four European Marine Regions. JWGBIRD-plus will take place in Aberdeen (UK) in Spring 2022. It will comprise the membership of JWGBIRD nominated by ICES, OSPAR and HELCOM, plus specially invited experts from Macaronesia (e.g. affiliated with the MISTIC Seas projects), the Mediterranean (affiliated with the Barcelona Convention) and the Black Sea. The aims of the workshop will be to share approaches to GES assessments of marine birds in the four regions in order to identify regional synergies and differences. JWGBIRD-plus will produce an action plan detailing priorities for future co-working and establishing best practice for assessing GES in marine birds across the four regions.
PARTNERS, ASSOCIATES & SUBCONTRACTORS
NEA PANACEA Partners:
Rijkswaterstaat – Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (NL)
University of Plymouth (UK)
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (FR)
AquaEcology GmbH & Co. KG (DE)
Office Français de la Biodiversité (FR)
BioConsult Schuchardt & Scholle GbR (DE)
Joint Nature Conservation Committee (UK)
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (ES)
Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale (FR)
Landesbetrieb für Küstenschutz, Nationalpark und Meeresschutz Schleswig-Holstein (DE)
Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK)
Gavia EcoResearch (DE)
Aarhus University (DK)