In the Northeast Atlantic, the geographic distribution of deeper water coral (DWC) ecosystems can be traced from the slopes and banks off the Iberian Peninsula as far north as the Scandinavian Shelf. To cover the variation in environmental factors and interactions at ocean boundaries which enable the development of DWC ecosystems, the ACES scientific community will focus on selected key flagship areas along this latitudinal gradient - Galicia Bank, Porcupine Slope, Rockall Trough, Skagerrak, Norwegian Shelf. Our aim is a margin-wide environmental baseline assessment of the status of Europe's deep-water coral margin to provide recommendations for essential monitoring and methodology requirements for future sustainable development. The evolution of new management concepts for the sustainable use of deeper-water marine ecosystems on a margin-wide scale is a grand challenge that can only be achieved on a joint European scale.

To meet that challenge, ACES will focus on three main scientific objectives which will provide the scientific data necessary to carry out our final objective which is to provide impartial practical recommendations for enlightened management of this spectacular deep-water ecosystem.

Scientific objectives and expected achievements

Objective 1: To map the structural and genetic variability, the framework-constructing potential, and the longevity of DWC ecosystems

Objective 2: To assess hydrographic and other local physical forcing factors affecting BBL sediment particle dynamics and POC supply in the vicinity of DWC ecosystems

Objective 3: To describe the DWC ecosystem, its dynamics and functioning; investigate coral biology and behaviour and assess coral sensitivity to natural and anthropogenic stressors

Objective 4: To assign a sensitivity code, identify the major conservation issues (and increase public awareness), and make recommendations for the rationale use of deep-water resources on the European Margin

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