Genoveva Gonzalez Mirelis
Institute of Marine Research
MAREANO (MARine AREAl database for NOrwegian waters) is a government-funded, data collection program aimed at collecting biological, geological and chemical data of offshore, seabed areas. Through this program large areas of the Norwegian seabed have been surveyed and documented in a systematic manner. Among other sampling tools, the MAREANO program operates an underwater video platform. “Video transects” (700 m-long lines along which the camera platform is towed while footage of the seabed is captured) are collected to serve a range of purposes. These (geo-referenced) data provide very detailed information about the biological composition of the benthic landscape at sampled sites, in an otherwise unexplored, vast territory.
The data from the video transects are utilized to make and test maps of distribution of benthic habitats and species. Two sets of map products are continually generated, and published in MAREANO. One is a general classification of the seabed into habitat types, which we term “biotopes” because they are defined on the basis of biological composition. In addition, we make maps that show the occurrence of habitats of special interest, such as those defined by OSPAR. When this knowledge is incorporated into management plans, activities causing severe impact can be steered away from sensitive areas. Thus, these maps are invaluable to inform spatial planning. All maps are made using species-environment relationships and subsequently fitting predictive models. In this seminar I will discuss the data and methods we use to make maps that can be used to support marine spatial management in Norway.