MESH - Development of a Framework for Mapping European Seabed Habitats

Link to MESH project website
 

The Marine Institute are collaborating with 11 other European marine organisations on this INTERREG IIIB funded international marine habitat mapping programme. MESH aims to map seabed habitat types in the Northeast Atlantic (see chart below).

An overview of MESH is available on the project website, which details the approach taken and how the work undertaken will aid integration of European habitat maps and standards.

The final outputs include:

  • Metadata Catalogue
  • Online webGIS mapping system
  • Review of Standards and Protocols (2nd Edition)
  • Habitat Matching Program
  • Signatures Micro-site
  • MESH Conference proceedings

MESH work will culminate soon in a web distributed report “A Guide to Marine Habitat Mapping” covering all aspects of marine seafloor habitat mapping.

The programme has comprised 6 Actions (work packages), these include:

  1. Generation of GIS habitat maps and meta-data for north-west Europe
  2. Develop standards and protocols for marine habitat mapping
  3. Testing protocols
  4. Predictive modelling
  5. Demonstration of applications of habitat maps for spatial planning and environmental management
  6. Communication and dissemination of work

Map of Mesh Project Study Area

 MESH Area and regional seas. © JNCC

EU partners in the MESH project

Country

Organisation

UK

Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)

BE

University of Gent

FR

Ifremer

IRE

Marine Institute

NL

Alterra-Texel

NL

TNO Environment, Energy and Process Innovation

UK

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)

UK

AFBI, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland (AFBI)

UK

Natural England

UK

Envision Mapping Ltd

UK

National Museums and Galleries of Wales (NMGW)

UK

Natural Environment Research Council (British Geological Survey) (BGS)

 
For Action I the Marine Institute gathered data and information collected by previously undertaken seabed surveys. This incorporated all forms of data relating to the seabed, including single and multibeam acoustics, biological samples - species counts and/or presence/absence from grab samples and dredges, sediment particle analysis etc. This exercise revealed the very disparate historical approach to seabed surveying, a result of not only the requirements of a particular survey (in scale, resolution and the purpose of the survey) but also the expertise and resources available. Data are very patchy in their coverage, with areas of economic and/or ecological value generally having detailed coverage while many areas are still reliant on the last surveys undertaken by the UKHO between 1840 and 1935.

Actions II and III examined standards and protocols for all types of seabed mapping, surveying and sampling in order to ascertain appropriate approaches and identify gaps. The following techniques have been assessed, and identified gaps will be subsequently covered in Recommended Operating Guidelines (ROGs), to be included in the Guide to Marine Habitat Mapping.

Technique

Partner

Collaboration with:

Diver Surveys

JNCC

-

LIDAR

Aerial Photography

Satellite Photography

Digital Imagery

Shore/intertidal surveys

Ifremer

-

-

-

-

Natural England

Multibeam Sonar

Interferometric Sonar

Geotechnical properties

Marine Institute

Gent

Gent

-

Core sampling

Alterra

-

Sub-bottom profiling

RADAR

Particle Size Analysis (granulometry)

TNO

-

-

-

Drop Camera

ROV

SPI / REMOTS

Grab sampling

Benthic trawls / dredges

CEFAS

-

-

-

-

-

Video sledge

AFBI - NI

-

Shore/intertidal surveys

Natural England

Ifremer

AGDS

Envision

-

Sidescan sonar

3D seismics

BGS

-

-

For Action III the Marine Institute, the British Geological Survey and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland (AFBI) have collaborated on joint surveying operations over 10 areas representing a variety of seabed habitats. Surveys have utilised a range of techniques which will enable cross comparison and validation of data. These areas have focused off the North Irish coast.

3D Image of Stanton Banks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3D image of Stanton Banks - from part of the British Geological Survey, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Marine Institute collaborative surveys

Action IV will see predictions of biological communities made for areas with restricted sample and survey data. The certainty of predictions is of particular importance to both the developers and users and therefore developing confidence indicators will be a principal component.

The activities of the project have been publicised in Action V, through national workshops which provided opportunities for potential users to find out about the project, and enabled them to feed into the project's development and ensure it will provide maximum benefit to the largest number of users. The Marine Institute are leading Action V.

The MESH project final conference was hosted by the Marine Institute on 14-15 March 2007 at Dublin Castle, IRELAND, and was well attended with over 200 delegates. If you would like a copy of conference proceedings, sign up on the MESH project website. Conference presentations are also available on the MESH website.

Interreg IIIB logo

 

In this section:

Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey (JIBS)
INIS-Hydro
Irish Groundfish Survey
Infomar- Introduction to Seabed Surveying at the Marine Institute
NDP Supported Projects- Hydro Acoustics Data
Coring Cruise July 2008
INFOMAR Supported Projects - Greencastle Codling Bank
Surveying 2008
Cross Service Survey
Geophysical Operations
Seafloor Survey Ecosystems off the Dingle Coast- June 2007
Seafloor Survey off the Dingle Peninsula - April/May 2007
NDP Supported Projects- Benthic Mapping
Why is Seabed Mapping Important?
Survey Season 2007
Map of the Irish Seabed