Tackling marine litter and removing contaminants from our oceans are crucial to ensuring marine biodiversity and the long term sustainability of our fish stocks. The EU has addressed these issues through the MSFD, and now wants to ensure that this legislative measure is being properly implemented.
The aim of the MSFD is fundamentally to protect the marine environment. It establishes European Marine Regions on the basis of geographical and environmental criteria, and each Member State is required to develop strategies for their marine waters.
These strategies must contain a detailed assessment of the state of the environment, a definition of 'good environmental status' at regional level and the establishment of clear environmental targets and monitoring programmes.
The EU-funded COMMON SENSE project, launched in November 2013 in Barcelona, Spain, aims to make the Commission's job easier in this regard, by helping Member States take necessary action. Funded to the tune of €4.7 million through FP7, the initiative brings together 15 partners from seven different countries, encompassing a wide range of expertise and know-how in the marine monitoring area.
COMMON SENSE will develop a marine monitoring system consisting of cost-effective sensors and a data management platform. This will help to reduce data collection costs and increase the availability and dissemination of important data. The project will focus on monitoring heavy metals, marine litter and underwater noise, and will measure parameters such as temperature and pressure.
The project will begin by examining the cost of developing bespoke sensors for detecting specific particles or contaminants in the sea. These sensors will then be integrated into multifunctional systems, along with sensors for temperature, pressure and pH levels.
A common sensor web platform will then be developed to optimise data acquisition, access and interoperability. The sensors developed will also be interoperable with existing systems. It is expected that the finalised platform will enable the swift dissemination of findings and technology, which will boost commercial, scientific and conservation interests.
In all, the COMMON SENSE consortium comprises six SMEs, five research development institutes, three universities and one foundation. The consortium's expertise and geographical distribution will enable multidisciplinary marine environmental monitoring of key marine regions, including the Baltic Sea, the north-east Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
A dedicated website for COMMON SENSE - http://www.commonsenseproject.eu - will go live in February 2014, providing project news and updates, as well as detailed information on the objectives and results of the project. COMMON SENSE is due for completion in February 2017.