The HERMIONE project (Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man’s Impact on European Seas) ran from April 2009 to September 2012 and focused on investigating deep sea ecosystems including submarine canyons, seamounts, cold seeps, open slopes and deep basins. The practice is a series of briefing documents on various topics relating to research and issues affecting the deep sea environment.
Questions this practice may help answer
- How does climate change impact on deep-sea ecosystems?
- How do human activities impact on deep-sea ecosystems?
- What information is needed to support the governance of deep-sea ecosystems?
The HERMIONE project (Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man’s Impact on European Seas) ran from April 2009 to September 2012 and focused on investigating deep sea ecosystems including submarine canyons, seamounts, cold seeps, open slopes and deep basins. Scientists from a range of disciplines researched their natural dynamics, distribution, and how they interconnect. The project also explored how these ecosystems contribute to the goods and services we rely on, and how they are affected by natural and anthropogenic change. A major aim of HERMIONE was to use the knowledge gained during the project to contribute to EU environmental policies. This information can be used to create effective management plans that will help to protect our oceans for the future.
Aspects / Objectives
The objectives of HERMIONE were:
- To investigate the dimensions, distribution and interconnection of deep-sea ecosystems;
- To understand changes in deep-sea ecosystems related to key factors including climate change, human impacts and the impact of large-scale episodic events;
- To understand the biological capacities and specific adaptations of deep-sea organisms, and investigate the importance of biodiversity in the functioning of deep-water ecosystems;
- To provide stakeholders and policymakers with scientific knowledge to support deep-sea governance aimed at the sustainable management of resources and the conservation of ecosystems.
The HERMIONE project selected a number of “hotspot” ecosystems around Europe’s deep-sea margins that demonstrate a high level of biodiversity and support an abundance of life forms, but which are also vulnerable to risks such as climate change and the impacts of human activity. These included slopes and basins, cold water corals, submarine canyons, seamounts and chemosynthetic ecosystems (vents, seeps and volcanoes). Conditions in these hotspots were measured on cruise expeditions using a range of techniques including the use of ROVs, coring, dredging, underwater cameras, seismic surveys and chemical analysis. The information gathered was used to produce a series of technical reports and a set of eight Deep Sea Briefs intended to serve as an information source for policy makers and government advisors.
Main Outputs / Results
- Eight Deep Sea Briefs covering topics such as biodiversity, climate change, ecosystem services, current status and issues, microbes, marine litter, connectivity in deep-sea environments and munitions dumping.
- Interactive learning resources including a map book, online tutorials, videos
- Peer-reviewed scientific publications and other science-policy reports
The HERMIONE project was undertaken by a consortium of 38 partners, led by the Natural Environment Research Council (UK)
Costs / Funding Source
€8 million / European Commission 7th Framework Programme
HERMIONE has used a number of scientific approaches that are suitable for use in deep-sea environments across European seas. The synthesis of this material into technical and non-technical materials therefore provide a good example of how scientific research can be used to inform MSP approaches to issues in deep-sea environments which are relatively less well understood than coastal and intertidal zones.
Project Coordinator: Prof. Philip P.E. Weaver
National Oceanography Centre Southampton