February 1st to 5th 2016
Olhão, Portugal
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Opening Session

Opening Session: Introduction by Ferdinando Boero and Sam Dupont

'Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning are the pillars of Good Environmental Status'

Ferdinando Boero - University of Salento, CNR-ISMAR, Italy

The definition of Good Environmental Status in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive considers eleven descriptors based on the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. The first descriptor is Marine Biodiversity, most of the other descriptors cover various impacts of human activities on the functioning of ecosystems. This calls for the centrality of bio-ecology in the way we evaluate the conditions of the ocean. Current observation systems focus mostly on physics, chemistry and biogeochemistry, with the use of sophisticated devices, from satellites to oceanic buoys, gliders and other state of the art instruments that, however, cannot measure neither biodiversity nor its bearing on ecosystem functioning. The revolution of GES, thus, calls for the upgrade of current observation systems, so as to include biotic variables that, so far, have been disregarded. This will spark technological innovation and, also, the building of human capacities that have been neglected in the last decades. Our knowledge of biodiversity, in terms of the species composition of marine biota, and on their roles in making ecosystems function is to be improved, with the construction of experts that are presently lacking in the scientific community. This does not mean that reductionistic approaches must be abandoned, but requires also a timely evolution towards holistic visions that account for the emerging properties of complex systems covering, for instance, the consideration of cumulative impacts that are presently almost unexplored. This evolution of marine sciences gives a new centrality to marine stations and long-term series, and to disciplines such as taxonomy that, however, will have to profit from modern technologies based, for instance, on molecular approaches to the exploration and understanding of marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

'What do we need to tackle marine global changes?'

Sam Dupont - University of Gothenburg, Sweden

All aspects of our life (e.g. cultural, historical, biological, and economic) are deeply rooted in the ocean, no matter where we live. Unfortunately, as we enter the Anthropocene at full speed, the ocean is threatened by disastrous human impacts and every citizen has a moral duty to slow down the pace of destruction of the atmospheric, terrestrial, fresh water and marine environments. In this respect, scientific research and science communication have a key role to play in fostering our appreciation of the importance of the ocean, our understanding of our own responsibility in its alteration and our awareness of the relevance of its protection. However, increase marine environmental awareness constitutes a real challenge as many features of the ocean and global environmental changes are difficult to experience because they are too small, too big or too abstract. Using ocean acidification as a case study, I will discuss the importance of an ocean and climate literate citizenry as well as opportunities and challenges to communicate marine global change science; specifically, what information and research are needed today for a successful mitigation and adaptation to marine global changes.