On 1-2 February, experts of the Science for Good Environmental Status (S4GES) Knowledge Hub and representatives from the Management Board of JPI Oceans gathered in Brussels. On day 1, they took stock of the scientific results and conclusions of the S4GES campaign with the Research Vessel Belgica and the subsequent analyses. The second day featured discussions of the policy-relevant outcomes, further strategic goals, and implementation steps of the Joint Action. The workshop followed the one held in Malta in the summer of 2023, where the initial results of the observational campaign on board RV Belgica were presented.
The central idea of S4GES is developing and testing a new approach that enables more consistent and more efficient monitoring of the marine environmental status. The approach employs recent scientific and technological tools, such as real-time remote sensing information, to guide sampling decisions, bio-optics, and eDNA analysis to obtain integrated ecosystem information.
The innovative satellite-supported planning of observations enables the identification of anomalies not caused by random or routine sampling but rather associated with inherent variability in system processes, such as trophic web dynamics. Participants agreed that this process-based approach has been successfully tested during the S4GES expedition with the RV Belgica in the tidal regimes of the southern North Sea. Building on that, they also recommended validating the approach in other oceanographic settings and ecosystems. Funding options to realise this will be requested to be discussed at the next JPI Oceans Management Board meeting.
Overall, the first results indicate a high potential for applying the process-based approach to more resource-efficient and meaningful monitoring for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Accordingly, Belgium announced as a first country its intention to adapt its resource allocation for the MSFD to the process-based approach suggested by S4GES.