Brussels, 20 Apr 2005
The recent UN report on the state of the planet revealed that 60 per cent of the ecosystems that sustain life on Earth have been damaged - an alarming development, especially in terms of marine ecosystems that play a crucial role in controlling the climate, says the French Research Minister, François d'Aubert.
Speaking at the launch of a new Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project on ocean ecosystems, Mr D'Aubert welcomed the EUR-OCEANS project aimed at developing advanced modelling tools through the study of the evolution of marine ecosystems in relation to climatic change and fishery issues.
'This network of excellence will look into global and regional problems in order to supply, in the medium term, essential orientations for the European fishery policy centred on sustainable development,' explained Mr d'Aubert.
'Human activities apply so much pressure on the natural functions of the planet that the ability of ecosystems to respond to the demands of future generations can no longer be considered as acquired,' added the minister. 'The contribution of scientists therefore appears essential in order to anticipate the major evolutions in this field, study them when they arise, and conceive, together with public authorities, the main orientations that should be implemented in future.'
The European Commission is providing ten million euro to the four year EUR-OCEANS project, which brings together 160 scientists from 66 research institutes and universities from 25 countries. Research will be carried out in regions such as the North Atlantic and its adjacent seas (Mediterranean and Baltic), the Polar Oceans (Artic and Antarctic) and the coastal upwelling systems of Portugal and South Africa.
The overall networking objective of EUR-OCEANS is to achieve a lasting integration of European research organisations working on global change and pelagic marine ecosystems and other relevant scientific disciplines. Three research communities, which have traditionally worked independently, will now be brought together thanks to the project: pelagic ecosystems, biogeochemistry and the ecosystem approach to marine resources. Progressively, research programmes will be integrated in order to 'develop models for assessing and forecasting the impacts of climate and anthropogenic forcing on food-web dynamics (structure, functioning, diversity and stability) of pelagic ecosystems in the open ocean,' explain the project partners.
Mr d'Aubert concluded the launch of the project by stating: 'the EUR-OCEANS network is a remarkable example of what needs to be done to contribute concretely and actively to the building of the European Research Area. It is now up to you scientists to reflect on the measures that need to be taken to ensure the sustainable integration of research activities in this field - the evolution of marine ecosystems and fisheries.'
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