The goal of research conducted within the IMPACTS cluster is to understand and quantify the effects of human activities on the contrasting marine ecosystems surrounding Europe.It focus on fate and impacts of pollutants, including endocrine disrupters, and nutrients in contrasting environments; on nutrient over-enrichment and eutrophication, and their relation to harmful algal blooms formation; impacts of episodic events and alien species introduction.


The projects SIGNAL, CYCLOPS, MEAD, MATBIOPOL, FAMIZ, BEEP, INTERPOL, ADIOS, AIRWIN, BIOCET and existing relevant MAST-III projects (ACE, MARA, BIOMARK) form the IMPACT cluster.Linked to the IMPACTS cluster are two data management projects MEDAR and MEDNET. Closely linked with the IMPACTS cluster is a group of projects, which focus on research on Harmful Algal Blooms in the frame of the EC EUROHAB Initiative. EUROHAB stands for European Initiative on Harmful Algal Blooms.The EUROHAB projects are: BIOHAB, NUTOX, Harmful Introductions by Ships.


The EU contribution to the cluster is22.855.296 EUROs.


IMPACTS is a new cluster of EC projects on Anthropogenic impacts on the Marine Environment.It is formed following FP-V requirements and objectives.

Only integrated or multi-disciplinary approaches can lead to sustainability in the long term.Single projects cannot adopt a sufficiently holistic approach towards sustainability.So, as part of FP-V, projects sharing common environmental and socio-economic objectives have been grouped into clusters.


IMPACTS cluster operates by linking thematically complimentary projects via (a) Project Web pages; (b) Cross representation; (c) Exchange of data;(d) Joint meetings of project leaders; (e) Workshops; and (f) Science-strategic inputs to European stakeholders.


The resulting RTD knowledge will (a) underpin Europe’s emergent management models on the cost-benefits of pollution reduction, rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems and the sustainable development of the marine environment and (b) provide input to relevant conventions (e.g., OSPARCOM, HELCOM, Barcelona and Bucharest Conventions).

2. IMPACTS DELIVERABLES in agreement with the working programme of KA3


·Strategic science-based knowledge on the inventories, diversity, fluxes, impacts and fates of pollutants and nutrients in contrasting environments.


·Management models integrating transport, transformation and effects of pollutants at the basin, regional and site-specific scales including impacts on the marine ecosystem.


·Development of options & strategies for dealing with anthropogenically-caused environmental degradation


·Scenarios for socio-economic benefits arising from the reduction of anthropogenic effects on the marine environment.


3. IMPACTS Projects brief Description


MATBIOPOL - Role of microbial mats in bioremediation of hydrocarbon polluted coastal zones


The main goal of the project is to study the consequence of an episodic event such as an oil spill in a coastal zone where microbial mats develop.It will focus on the intensive study of 4 selected coastal microbial mats systems and their particular responses to high pollution levels by crude oil or selected hydrocarbons molecules.It will address the major question: How do hydrocarbons behave when crude oil is spilt in ecologically sensitive coastal areas and how microbial mat systems be exploited for the bioremediation of such oil polluted coastal marine environments?The aim of MATBIOPOL is in agreement with the RTD priority of the programme: Reducing the effects of anthropogenic activities on the marine environment and recovering degraded marine systems.


MEAD - Marine effects of atmospheric deposition


Sustainable development requires the regulation of human activities and /or anthropogenic emissions to protect ecosystems.MEAD is specifically concerned with potential eutrophication problems in coastal seas and the role of atmospheric deposition to these problems.

The work will be based in the Kattegat but the results will be generally applicable.The research involves field measurements in the atmosphere and coastal waters and model development.The final model will link the atmosphere and water column.Retrospective analysis of existing data on algal blooms (including satellite imagery) and atmospheric deposition will also be utilised.The final product will be a pre-operational model for water quality managers to investigate the effects of emission control strategies on eutrophication problems in coastal waters.The products of the project will be directly beneficial in reducing the effects of anthropogenic activity on the marine environment and lead to more cost effective and harmonious utilisation and regulation of coastal seas.


CYCLOPS - Cycling of phosphorus in the Mediterranean


The principal objective of CYCLOPS is to confirm by direct experiment that the Eastern Mediterranean is unique amongst the major seas in having its primary productivity limited by Phosphorus.A set of microcosm experiments have been carried out to provide information to support two Lagrangian experiments.Detailed biological, chemical and physical experiments will be made to determine how the planktonic ecosystem responds to our controlled P addition.The project will develop a quantitative ecosystem model and regulatory executive summary.It will contribute directly to the sustainable use of marine resources such as fisheries.It will also contribute to the sustainable development of mariculture by enabling sensible regulation on the environmental impact of industry in the Mediterranean to be developed.The project will contribute vital data to management models of transport pathways in the marine ecosystem.It will also contribute directly to strategic science-based development of regulations within the Mediterranean Action Plan.


SIGNAL - Significance of anthropogenic nitrogen for central Baltic Sea



The project SIGNAL addresses the crucial question of the eutrophication sources and what impact additional nitrogen has on the productivity in remote regions.The investigation will be carried out in the Baltic Sea where the impact of eutrophication is one of the main threats to the ecosystem due to the 80 million people living in its watershed.The nitrogen input from some major rivers, the atmosphere and N2 fixing cyanobacteria into the Central Baltic Sea will be qualitatively assessed.The role of the imported nitrogen for the productivity of the central Baltic Sea will be evaluated by means of budget calculations and box modelling.The project will provide strategic knowledge on the effects of human activities on the marine environment.


FAMIZ - Food web uptake of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the Arctic marginal ice zone of the Barents Sea


The Arctic has a symbolic value as being a pristine area untouched by human industrial activities.

Field data indicate that Arctic food webs are remarkably efficient in accumulating persistent organic pollutants.This has major implications for indigenous people health and commercial fishing values.The project’s objectives are to understand why the Arctic systems are so vulnerable to POP contamination; which are the major input process for different POPs and which physical-chemical properties of the different POPs are the most important for bioaccumulative potential.FAMIZ will provide process based predictive models of POP accumulation in Arctic food webs.


BEEP - Biological effects of environmental pollution in marine ecosystems


Biological markers allow the direct determination of pollutant impact of living organisms in aquatic systems.While new emerging biomarkers are actually under evaluation, some common markers are in a validation-phase and may be used as assessment tools for the quality of the marine environment.The goal of this research programme is to evaluate the potential of using biological marker determined in marine organisms as a means of assessment of chemical contamination and to investigate the socio-economic implications for certain selected zones.The results of the BEEP project will be of importance for various Community policies including Water Quality Objectives and fishing policies.It will provide scientific and technical (and to an extent societal approaches) tools for regional development policies and management of coastal and marine areas.


BIOCET - Bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in small cetaceans in European waters


This project aims to quantify and model the transport pathways and impact on reproduction of bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) by four species of small cetaceans in European Atlantic waters.BIOCET will deliver new data on health, age structure, reproduction and contaminant burdens in populations of four cetacean species in European Atlantic waters.Results will be synthesised to identify vulnerable populations and to produce simple empirical models of the time course and consequences for reproductive success of bioaccumulation in individuals from each population in relation to dietary inputs.BIOCET addresses an issue of Community-wide interest and relevant to EU policy on marine pollution.


INTERPOL - Impact of natural and trawling events in resuspension, dispersion and fate of pollutants


The Mediterranean coastal zones experience intense trawling activity and severe storm surges inducing significant resuspension-release of nutrients, pollutants and toxic elements.Due to their oligotrophic character the re-suspension processes areexpected to play a key role in the carbon, nutrients and pollutants recycling in the Mediterranean ecosystem.The project addresses in a multidisciplinary approach the issue of marine ecosystem is disturbed and it’s response to the episodic introduction of nutrients and pollutants.It therefore addresses directly issues relevant to EU environmental policy.The project will help to constrain and identify the complex routes of pollutant transfer within the marine system and will contribute to a better protection of the Mediterranean from pollution.


ADIOS - Atmospheric deposition and impact of pollutants and nutrients on the open Mediterranean Sea


ADIOS is a focussed pan-European study of the atmospheric deposition and impact of pollutants and nutrients on the Mediterranean open sea.The extent to which atmosphere represents an important pathway for various pollutants and natural substances from Europe and North Africa towards this ecologically sensitive marine environment, and subsequently affects its biogeochemistry remains largely unknown.The magnitude and quality of atmospheric deposition will be assessed by an atmospheric sampling network encompassing the whole basin, as well as by the extensive use of SeaWIFS data and dust transport-deposition modelling.Biogeochemical processes levels and ecotoxicological effects induced by natural and anthropogenic aerosols will be examined, from surface down to the deep sediments.The project will contribute to the sustainable management and safer use of the Mediterranean Sea.


AIRWIN - Structure and role of biological communities involved in the transport and transformation of POPs at the marine air-water interface


The aim of the project is to investigate the structure of biological communities living and growing in the sea surface microlayer ( SML), and their role in the transport and cycling of natural organic matter and xenobiotics.This research proposal will provide original data on the identification of organisms living in the SML.It will provide both scientific and biotechnological communities with a collection of organisms with information on (i) their role in the transformation of specific pollutants and, ( ii) their capacity to produce molecules such as antioxidants which may be used for pharmaceutical applications.The sensitivity of SML organisms to different categories and concentrations of toxic compounds will be assessed to determine if they are suitable bioindicators of atmospheric pollution.The project will help to reduce uncertainties associated with management decisions and to secure links between inputs, concentrations and effects of contaminants.


MAST-III Projects



ACE - Assessment of antifouling agents in marine environments


The ACE aims to provide through multidisciplinary research information on usage and geographical differences in usage of antifouling agents and products in Europe: (i) an assessment of the extent of contamination of European harbours and marinas and coastal waters through chemical surveys and (ii) information concerning the dissipation, transport and ecotoxicological effects of “booster” biocides.The project will finally provide models which predict environmental concentration and impact and a critical comparison of products regarding environmental impacts.


BIOMARK - Biomarkers in marine sponges: Molecular approaches to assess pollutional risks and ecosystems health in the ocean


The aim of BIOMARK project is the establishment of reliable biomarkers allowing: (i) an assessment of pollutional risks and (ii) the estimation of the health status of animals in their marine milieu.The scientific prerequisites are prepared to set up guidelines to guarantee a sustainable use of the sea.


MARA - Microplate based multiple strain bacterial assay for marine ecotoxicology


The prime industrial/economic aim of MARA project is to prove that assays based on multiple strains of bacteria have a quantifiably improved performance over existing bacteria ecotoxicological assays thus giving the new assays a considerable market advantage.MARA will deliver as well a testing system suitable for use by regulators and industry leading to better compliance and self-compliance with water quality directives leading to reduced costs to industry and environmental improvements.


EUROHAB Initiative


BIOHAB - Biological control of harmful algal blooms in European coastal waters: role of eutrophication


Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) occur in many European coastal waters and have increased in frequency concomitantly with an increased nutrient input.HABs have a devastating effect on the ecosystem or cause health problems in humans.The overall objective of BIOHAB is therefore to determine the interplay between eutrophication and the bio-control of losses and gains of HABs.BIOHAB will produce quantitative information about interactions between eutrophication and biological factors controlling growth and mortality (allelopathy, mixotrophy, grazing, viral/bacterial infection) of HABs.The project contributes to the target of the KA3 to mitigate anthropogenic impacts on the marine ecosystem.


NUTOX - Effect of nutrient ratios on harmful phytoplankton and their toxin production


Nutrient ratios influence not only algal succession in natural communities but also the production of toxin by certain phytoplankton species.However, the influence depends on which type of nutrient is limiting or deficient relative to others for the algal need.In most European marine waters, the ratios between nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in relation to silica (Si) have increased de to the high input from N and P from human activities.At the same time toxic algal blooms of non-silica requiring species, such as prymnesiophytes, dinoflagellates and blue-green algae have increased.The project will investigate if there is a connection between high NP:Si-ratios and selection towards toxic species by exposing the natural phytoplankton communities contained in mesocosmos to a gradient of N:P:Si ratios (in the in-flowing medium).In this way it will be possible to see if a specific toxic species can outcompete the diatoms.The effect of N:P ratios on the cellular chemical composition and toxin production will be compared in different toxic species.These species will be exposed to different N:P-ratios in semi-continuous cultures and a detailed measuring programme will be conducted using new advanced (as above) and standardised methods.The toxic species to be used will be isolated from northern (Skagerrak and Baltic) and southern (Atlantic) European waters.


(INTRO) HARMFUL INTRODUCTION BY SHIPS - Harmful Introduction by Ships to European Waters


During the last decades, ballast water discharges have increased throughout the world in most of the major ports.Ships have been recognised as a major vector for the introduction of non-indigenous and harmful organisms.Discharge volumes are considerable in some cases.It is well known that a very high number (>3000) species are transported in ballast water.The probability of successful establishment of self-sustaining populations of alien species is expected to increase with greater volumes of ballast water and reduced ship transit times.


Experts and guests from EU and other countries world-wide brought together through a series of workshops held at sites of relevance to the subject.Key objectives of this concerted action included the following: various methods of ship sampling were studied how qualitatively and quantitatively the fate of exotic species in ballast water may be examined.During en-route ballast water sampling (5 voyages in inter-regional and inter-oceanic services) the sediments accumulating in ballast tanks were examined.Treatment measures for the control of exotics were discussed.An awareness campaign was carried out using posters, flyers and an internet home page ( sgollasch/sgollasch/index.htm) to inform and to concern scientists, decision makers, port authorities and the public.




MEDAR/MEDATLAS II - Mediterranean Data Archaeology and Rescue of Temperature, Salinity and Bio-chemical Parameters


The overall objective of the MEDAR/MEDATLAS II project is to make available a comprehensive data product of multidisciplinary in-situ data and information in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, through a wide co-operation of the Mediterranean countries.

The specific project objectives are:

§to compile and safeguard historical data, with special attention of the East and South regions and the coastal areas, most of these data being regularly collected by the Mediterranean bordering countries in the frame of national regional or international programmes, and occasionally by a few other countries;

§to make available comparable and compatible data sets of: temperature, salinity, oxygen, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, total nitrogen, phosphate, total phosphorus, silicate, H2S, pH, alkalinity, chlorophyll-a profiles by using a common protocol for formatting and quality checking;

§to prepare and disseminate qualified value added products by using efficient gridding and mapping methodology;

§to enhance communication between data managers and scientists to improve the data circulation.


MEDNET - Mediterranean model networking and archiving program


This is a contract to establish a network to support a European modelling capability focussed on the Mediterranean Sea.This project uses the WWW to document existing versions of the various Mediterranean model software and to provide an accessible software archive.The network will make it easier for future research to be carried out by allowing an exchange of software and data sets and it will publicise the research models developed during several EU-MAST programs to the growing operational oceanography community involved in marine environment protection and forecasting.The proposed network will provide a template for network access via the internet.Most communications within the network use the internet, generating a coordinated system of WWW sites containing standardised information of Mediterranean modelling groups, model versions and products, diagnostic tools and date sets, as well as publications.Because the network archive is distributed the network is easy to maintain and keep up-to-date and effective.The modelling will contribute to future needs of the biogeochemical community in helping to form an integrated and quantitative description of the Mediterranean ecosystem.