Human activity is degrading the vital ecosystems that enable our oceans to function. To solve this problem, the European Union has presented two projects whose mission is to restore marine ecosystems, eliminate pollution and make the marine economy neutral and circular. These projects are Mission Atlantic and AFRIMED.
Researchers from around the world are working to undo the damage that human activity has caused to our seas, but to do so they must understand the magnitude of the problem. In this context, Mission Atlantic aims to understand the complexity of the system and resolve the unknowns surrounding it.
The size of the Atlantic Ocean and the immense diversity it harbours means that there are many enigmas about it. Understanding the complexity and magnitude of the problem, Mission Atlantic’s main objective is to help countries, industries and individuals to treat the ocean in a sustainable way.
To do so, this project maps, models and assesses the ecosystems of the Atlantic Ocean, thus identifying the main existing threats. In addition, it aims at applying systematic approaches to marine ecosystems, as well as system feedback and complexity.
On the other hand, the AFRIMED project focuses on identifying areas for kelp forest restoration, testing technologies to restore these sites, and finally, elaborating a step-by-step guide on how to rebuild these systems.
There are different complications in kelp forest restoration. The most important one is that anthropogenic pressure needs to stop in order to start the scientific or ecological process. In addition, it is important to note that transplanting kelp can strip other vulnerable habitats, and not all kelp survives in another location, so it is essential to find a good site for restoration.
Given the interdisciplinary nature of the project, it is required r not only the participation of algae experts, but also experts in ecosystem and environmental conditions, as well as a technician for the laboratory. Also, restoration involves socio-economic components, so stakeholder involvement is essential.