On Tuesday 6 November 2018, Ricardo Serrão Santos MEP, Chair of the “Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services” Working Group of the European Parliament Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development” hosted the event: “Healthier oceans and human beings: Sponges as “engine” of the deep sea” in the European Parliament.
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.
Latest findings give proof of the remarkable potential of sponges, not only for the health of our Ocean, but also for human beings, as anti-cancer and anti-malarial compounds have been found in the organisms.
The SponGES project, funded under the H2020, aims at developing an integrated ecosystem-based approach to preserve and sustainably use deep-sea sponge ecosystems of the North Atlantic. This initiative, supported by a consortium of international and interdisciplinary research institutions, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations aims at strengthening the knowledge-base on North Atlantic sponge ground ecosystems by investigating their distribution, diversity, biogeography, function and dynamics; Improving innovation and industrial application by unlocking the biotechnological potential of these ecosystems; Improving the capacity to model, understand and predict threats and impacts and climate-driven changes to these ecosystems; Advancing the science-policy interface and developing tools for improved resource management and governance of these ecosystems from regional to international levels across the North Atlantic.
The event will gather stakeholders and policy-makers to further discuss how the potential of sponges can be unlocked and how this research can support key policies and legislation, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), EU Maritime Strategy for the Atlantic Ocean Area, the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation, as well as international agreements established to conserve Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and Ecologically or Biologically Sensitive Areas (EBSAs).
Participation in the meeting will provide you 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 such areas from potential impacts due to other uses, such as e.g. fishing.
The SponGES project has received funding from the European Union research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 679849.
For further information on the project: Hassan.Moustahfid@fao.org