Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades Presidencia Española del Consejo de la Unión Europea IEO, CSIC
Investigación Grupos de investigación


Project title: PERSEUS. Policy-orientated marine Environmental Research for the Southern European Seas

Funding: : Funded by the EU under FP7 Theme “Oceans for Tomorrow” OCEAN.

Total project funding: 13 M de €

Financing to IEO: 250.000,00 €

Duration: 2012-2015

Principal researcher: Patricia Reglero (COB-IEO)

PERSEUS is an innovative marine research that evaluates the dual impact of human activity and the natural pressures on the Mediterranean and Black Seas and that combines the natural and socio-economic to predict the long-term effects of these pressures on ecosystems marine. The project aims to design an administrative framework for the effective and innovative research, which will be the basis for the authorities to halt progress on the degradation of marine life.


The oceans offer many opportunities for economic growth, however, coastal development and other human activities such as tourism, recreational activities and maritime transport, have exerted increasing pressures on the oceans and generated a range of threats to the marine environment. These threats have inevitably jeopardized the future uses of the marine ecosystem’s goods and services.

The Framework Directive Marine Strategy (MSFD) has adopted a regional seas approach, which is especially appropriate with respect to the Mediterranean and Black Seas, together representing the Southern European Seas (SES). The Mediterranean and Black Sea are unique and evolve rapidly, with large interannual to decadal variability and abrupt fluctuations, thus they are generally accepted to possess certain unique qualities. In fact, their semi-enclosed nature, coupled with their smaller inertia compared to large oceans, makes them more sensitive to natural variations which are mainly connected to global and regional climate change. Overall, the interaction of these natural pressures, coupled with the exponential increase in human activities around the coasts, has made the SES even more vulnerable and sensitive, especially as the population along the SES coasts has expanded exponentially over the past century. Furthermore, coastal urbanisation, industrialisation and touristic exploitation, intensive agriculture, riverine and atmospheric inputs and overfishing can only count as few among the many anthropogenic forcings impinging on the SES, thereby, putting their integrity at stake.

The EU maritime policy objectives, as outlined in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) highlight the significance of protecting and preserving the marine environment, which in effect helps towards the promotion of more sustainable uses of the seas, while simultaneously conserving the marine ecosystems.

The overall scientific objectives of PERSEUS are to identify the interacting patterns of natural and human-derived pressures on the Mediterranean and Black Seas, assess their impact on marine ecosystems and, using the objectives and principles of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive as a vehicle, to design an effective and innovative research governance framework based on solid scientific knowledge. This research governance framework will engage scientists, policy-makers and the public, thereby reaching a shared understanding and informed decision-making based on sound scientific knowledge, with particular reference to the MSFD and other relevant policies and initiatives.

More specifically, PERSEUS has been structured around the following four scientific objectives and for this we have created ten interrelated work packages to meet these different objectives under a scheme of integrated cluster:

  1. To identify the interacting patterns of both natural and human-derived pressures on the SES and proceed with the assessment of their impact on the marine ecosystems
  2. To develop tools for the evaluation of the environmental status using existing and upgraded monitoring and modelling capabilities
  3. To implement the principles and objectives put forward in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and promote them across the SES
  4. To create a framework for future implementation of adaptive policies and management schemes

The Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), through the two coastal centers based in the Mediterranean: the Balearic Oceanography Centre and the Oceanographic Centre of Malaga, is one of 54 partners from 22 countries participating. The IEO participates in WP01, WP03 and WP04. The main contributions include; i) analysis of small pelagic fish dynamics and human pressure on fish populations; both in terms of recruitment drivers at basin scale and population dynamics in relation to the pelagic ecosystem, ii) analysis of hydrodynamic properties of Mediterranean waters, including biogeochemical dynamics. IEO participation includes the use of available large datasets, the use of modelling techniques that allow incorporating existing data and synthesize current assumptions, and the improvement of existing observation systems towards a general Mediterranean observation system.

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The scientific team:

  • Patricia Reglero
  • Rosa Balbín
  • José Luis López Jurado
  • Francisco Alemany
  • Catalina Pasqual
  • Jorge Baro
  • Raul Laiz Carrión
  • Lola Cortés
  • Alberto García
  • Jesús Mercado
  • Lidia Yebra

For more information on PERSEUS, visit the project website