Report improves understanding of UK shelf seas ‘blue carbon’ role

13 November 2018

Article: 52/4507

A new report, ‘Shelf seas: the engine of productivity’ has been prepared by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS). It summarises the main outcomes from a five-year research programme on what is happening in the seas around Britain.

The report covers top-down processes (how marine ecosystems are affected by the atmosphere) and bottom-up (the hidden benefits provided by the seafloor), as well as the impacts of human activities and climate change.

Key findings presented in the report include:

  • climate change is already affecting UK shelf seas and impacts will intensify;
  • many interacting factors control the amount and growth of the microscopic plants (phytoplankton) that underpin nearly all other life in the sea;
  • the chemistry and biology of shelf seas is strongly affected by the highly variable conditions at the seafloor, affected by natural processes and human disturbance;
  • marine protected areas provide unique opportunities for separating climate-driven changes from direct human actions, such as trawling;
  • most trawling impacts on seafloor life and processes seem to occur the first time an area is trawled;
  • novel technologies are increasingly being used to find out how shelf seas work, providing many direct and indirect benefits to society.

Source: CEFAS, 6 November 2018