Co-creating a knowledge baseline on the diversity and distribution of deep-sea sponge and coral habitats of the continental shelf of mainland Portugal
DEEPbaseline is an interdisciplinary project aimed at co-developing a knowledge baseline on the diversity and distribution of deep-sea sponge and coral species and habitats of the continental shelf and upper slope of mainland Portugal. DEEPbaseline brings together scientists from four partner institutions (CIIMAR, IPMA, UA, and Okeanos), local fishing communities and associations, fisheries managers, and the wider society to improve knowledge, foster awareness and advance conservation actions towards their sustainability.
Sponges and corals form a variety of highly-structured habitats, known as sponge/coral gardens, aggregations and reefs. They are particularly prevalent in the deeper areas of the continental shelves and slopes, and play key roles in ecosystem function, from recycling of major nutrients to provision of habitat, nursery and feeding grounds for many other invertebrate and fish species. Their vulnerability to the impacts of anthropogenic activities (e.g. fisheries, oil gas exploitation, climate change) is increasingly recognized and led to their classification as Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs). Yet, knowledge into their faunal composition, areal extent, or the environmental drivers for their distribution is scarce and dispersed, hampering the development and implementation of measures for their conservation and sustainable management.
The main goal of this project is to co-develop a knowledge baseline on the diversity and distribution of these species and habitats on the continental shelf and upper slope of mainland Portugal. DEEPbaseline will bring together scientists, local fishing communities and associations, fisheries managers, and the wider society to improve knowledge, foster awareness and advance conservation actions towards their sustainability.
The DEEPbaseline is an awardee of the “Ocean Conservation Fund”, promoted by the Oceanário de Lisboa and the Oceano Azul Foundation, that aims to support unprecedented projects that contribute decisively to the conservation of endangered species and marine biodiversity in general. The FUND promotes funding and support for scientific knowledge, creates awareness for the importance of ocean balance, and shares the vision that ocean conservation is urgent and is everyone’s responsibility. Since 2017, this private Fund for the conservation of marine biodiversity, gave a total of 400 thousand euros to eight projects. This results in the Fund being the largest source of private financing in Portugal to promote the conservation of marine animals.
ACT 1 › Assembling Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) using participatory approaches;
ACT 2 › Investigation of the community composition using an integrative taxonomic approach;
ACT 3 › Assessment of diversity and distribution patterns of sponge and coral species and habitats;
ACT 4 › Development of management-support tools;
ACT 5 › Engagement and capacity-building of fishers and fisheries observers;
ACT 6 › Project communication and dissemination;