In support of the Belem declaration, Mission Atlantic has brought together scientists, managers and stakeholders from Brazil, South Africa, North America and the EU to address the question “How do drivers of change (climate and social development) and other pressures (exploitation, pollution and acidification) impact Atlantic Ocean ecosystems (past, present and future) and alter the distribution and sustainability of services provided to humans?” To answer this, Mission Atlantic will develop and systematically implement an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) framework at regional and basin scales. This framework is a cross-sectoral research platform between science, policy makers and industry.
The framework will develop and apply existing and new tools and technology consisting of a set of statistical methods, simulation models, machine learning algorithms and ocean observation technology platform. The IEA framework will use existing data, as well as campaign data provided by partners, to assess the dynamics of indicators (from nutrient cycling to the distribution of large migratory species throughout the water column, including benthic communities) at basin and regional scales and establish the development of Atlantic marine ecosystems; determine historical trends in key indicators of ecosystem health in relation to stressors. In addition, using future projections from Mission Atlantic’s climate ecosystem modelling tools, Mission Atlantic will assess future risks and vulnerabilities of crossing tipping points in undesirable ecosystem states and exploitation opportunities.
Finally, Mission Atlantic will implement platforms for effective interactions between researchers, companies, policy makers and authorities across the Atlantic. Training and professional development opportunities for blue economy professionals will be provided through an adaptive e-learning platform that incorporates IEA theory and examples into the World Maritime University curriculum, thus ensuring the legacy of the programme.