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Map of the Week – Habitat Descriptors - Biological zones

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 Habitat Descriptors - Biological zones

This week, the European Commission announced that it has acted to close 87 sensitive zones to all bottom fishing gears in the European Union (EU) waters of the North-East Atlantic to protect nature and restore biodiversity in line with the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Based on the Deep-sea Access Regulation and on the scientific advice of ICES  (the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea), the new regulation protects 57 vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems. The total area of the closures represents 16,419 km2 reserved for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) below 400 metres. The measure was drafted after extensive consultations over the past two years with Member States and stakeholders, including the fishing industry and NGOs.[1]

Did you know that there is a great diversity of seabed habitats, with over 1,000 different habitat types identified across Europe’s regional seas? These vary from the coral reefs found in the cold, dark depths of the North-east Atlantic Ocean to the seagrass meadows found in coastal waters throughout Europe’s seas. [2] The European Atlas of the Seas provides access to maps about seabed habitats. Dive into the Map of the Week to learn about the classified biological zones for all European waters used in the EMODnet broad-scale seabed habitat model (EUSeaMap).

The EUSeaMap is a comprehensive, free and ready-to-use broad-scale map of physical habitats. The concept of mapping seabed habitats using existing marine environmental data is the principle behind broad-scale habitat maps like EUSeaMap. Physical variables that are known to influence benthic communities (predictors) are classified into biologically-meaningful classes (habitat descriptors). These data together with seabed substrate data can be combined by ‘layering’ the data in a Geographic Information System (GIS) to create a map of benthic broad habitats. [3]

Access the map

The data in this map are provided by EMODnet.