Our advocacy for sustainable seas

Publié le 4 novembre 2022 Mis à jour le 21 novembre 2022

Cécile Sabourault, Emna Ben Lamine, Lorraine Bottin, Kilian Bürgi, Simona Bussotti, Jean-Michel Cottalorda, Marie-Yasmine Dechraoui-Bottein, Benoît Dérijard, Gilles Gambini, Annelise Garnier, Alexandre Meinesz, Luisa Passeron-Mangialajo, Audrey Marguin, Julie Marty-Gastaldi, Margalida Monserrat-Barcelo, Patricia Pierson, Fabrice Priouzeau, Virginie Raybaud, Sonia Reufflet, Christine Risso, Sylvain Roblet, Gilbers Romero-Suarez, Francesca Rossi, Guillaume Spennato, Alix Varenne, Jana Verdura

Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS, UMR7035 ECOSEAS, Nice, France

Seas and oceans are complex ecosystems that support life on earth (climate regulation) and provide essential services to human societies. However, direct or indirect multiple anthropogenic pressures may impact the coastal areas and make the marine ecosystems vulnerable. The health of the seas and oceans has therefore become a crucial issue. The United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) aims to promote partnerships between all stakeholders, education and public awareness with the ultimate goal of removing the barriers to protecting the oceans and seas.
The ECOSEAS (Ecology and Conservation Science for Sustainable Seas) laboratory of Université Côte d'Azur has been involved for many years in programmes to protect and restore marine ecosystems, as well as programmes to monitor the impact of pollution (chemical, noise or harmful algae blooms), invasive species, the destruction of habitats and overexploitation of resources. Faced with the extent of the environmental disturbances observed, the time for action is now more than ever! We need to spread scientific knowledge, share research innovations and propose mitigation and adaptation solutions, in particular nature-based solutions. It is also urgent to raise awareness among citizens, especially school-age children, of the major challenges of protecting marine ecosystems.

1. Sharing innovations to improve knowledge

The researchers of the ECOSEAS laboratory are committed to sharing the innovations and data resulting from their research with different stakeholders at a local, national and international level, such as local authorities, fishermen, managers, sea users and citizens. Observation is essential to acquire reliable biological, ecotoxicological, ecological and socio-economic data. Results are intended to be disseminated and shared with the greatest number of people to contribute to the implementation of monitoring programmes and the sustainable management of marine ecosystems. For example, we are currently working on developing complementary biodiversity monitoring methods (environmental DNA and artificial intelligence), improving archaeozoological analyses to better understand today's environment, designing early warning tools for assessing and monitoring the biological and chemical quality of marine ecosystem, testing species distribution models under several climate change scenarios, and finding conservation-based solution for the implementation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). We are also conducting research on the trophic connectivity between artificial nurseries in ports and surrounding areas, in order to improve theses nurseries and facilitate fish recruitment in ports, and on harmful algal blooms and their associated toxins to bridge the gap between marine biodiversity conservation and food safety.
To assess the impact of climate change in the long term, it is essential to establish regular and reliable monitoring and observations, which will provide a long-term time series of data of great value to scientists around the world. It is our responsibility to monitor and make these observations, although we regret that these activities are rarely funded by grants or other public/private funding. These observations can be used to set up early warning systems for the appearance of non-indigenous species (fishes, macroalgae, toxic microalgae), to monitor the spatio-temporal dynamics of the quality of the marine ecosystems related to the evolution of different types of pollution, or to draw up risk maps according to different climate change scenarios.
As all of these data are intended to be shared, we are also developing reference databases, such as a database that lists all of the coastal artificial structures on the French Mediterranean coast and their impacts (www.medam.org; Bottin et al., 2022) and a database that lists all of the marine protected areas (MPAs) and marine reserves on the French Mediterranean coast (www.medamp.org; Bottin et al., 2021). Innovations can also be found in practices, such as the implementation of a toolbox for MPA managers (Hogg et al., 2019, https://fishmpablue-2.interreg-med.eu/).

2. Nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change and support marine ecosystem adaptation

Proposing solutions requires a good knowledge of the impacts of anthropogenic pressures (including climate change) on marine socio-ecosystems. ECOSEAS researchers are involved in various projects to assess the health of marine ecosystems (Di Franco et al., 2016; Rouane-Hacène et al., 2018; Vandenbussche et al., 2019; Di Franco et al., 2020; Mansour et al., 2020), the impact of climate change on fish populations and assemblages (Giakoumi et al., 2019; Schickele et al., 2021 a&b; Ben Lamine et al., 2022), and the impact of climate change on organisms, for example planktonic photosymbiosis (Villar et al., 2018).
The aim is to be able to propose mitigation and/or adaptation solutions to stakeholders. Nature-based solutions are both interesting in terms of their impact on biodiversity (restoration and preservation), and also in terms of reducing the effects of climate change. For example, MPAs are a powerful tool to protect ecosystems and increase their resilience. ECOSEAS researchers are involved in the design and monitoring of MPAs, but also in the promotion of sustainable fisheries (Ben Lamine et al., 2018; Ben Lamine et al., 2020; Zupan et al., 2018). In these projects, the researchers work in close collaboration with local authorities, MPA managers and fishermen.
Similarly, seagrass beds and marine forests are important elements in the structuring of ecosystems. They help to maintain a high level of biodiversity and food-web structure and contribute to coastal protection. Several restoration and conservation projects for these marine forests are underway in our laboratory (Fabbrizzi et al., 2020). Researchers are developing protocols for restoring marine forests, which can then be applied by managers, particularly in MPAs. For example, they are working on the effect of climate change on the recruitment of forest-forming macroalgae species (Monserrat et al., 2022).
Moreover, the ecology of Posidonia oceanica wrack beds is of great importance (Bussotti et al., 2022a), as their maintenance on beaches can be a nature-based solution for preserving the coast from erosion. This is the subject of the ECOMED project and this aspect was developed as an educational experiment for secondary school students by scientists working in partnership with educators (Bussotti S. et al, 2022b).

3. Training the stakeholders and raising public awareness

As mentioned above, ECOSEAS researchers are involved in the development of innovations and are keen to share these processes with all those involved in marine environment (MPA managers, fishermen, associations, diving clubs and local authorities). Researchers are often interacting with these stakeholders and are sometime involved in training activities. Dialogue with all users is extremely important to obtain their commitment, facilitate compliance with the rules and improve decision-making processes.
As most researchers are also university lecturers, they can teach the results of their research, processes and technological innovations to their students, and train future decision-makers who are well-informed on these issues of marine ecosystem preservation.
Moreover, the laboratory staff are also involved in the Science and Society dialogue through their commitments and actions within the framework of the Observatory of the Ecological and Citizen Transition of the French Riviera (OTECCA).
Finally, as we are more careful to preserve what we know well, it is essential to raise awareness among all citizens, insisting on the education of the youngest, as they are the ones who will take over. Thus, several educational/citizen science projects are being developed in the laboratory in partnership with secondary schools. Other projects are underway with the members of diving clubs in the area. Researchers are also involved in creating content for the general public, such as books (Meinesz 2021), booklets (http://ecoseas.unice.fr/images/_01_articles/_05_link/SMR_Med-Final_en.pdf) and comic books (http://ecoseas.unice.fr/images/_01_articles/_05_link/Pavis_Fishtales.pdf; http://ecoseas.unice.fr/images/_01_articles/_05_link/BD_Finale_french_reduite4.pdf ) or a toolkit for MPA managers (https://fishmpablue-2.interreg-med.eu/news-events/news/detail/actualites/a-governance-toolkit-for-ssf/).

References (project’s web sites and bibliography)



  1. AFRIMED (Algal Forest Restoration In MEDiterranean sea), http://afrimed-project.eu/
  2. CLIM-ECO2 (CLIMate driven reshaping of Mediterranean fisheries: ECOlogical and ECOnomic assessment), https://univ-cotedazur.eu/clim-eco%C2%B2-project
  3. ECOMED (Étude du système Posidonia oceanica-banquettes pour une solution naturelle contre l’érosion Côtière dans la Méditerranée), http://ecoseas.unice.fr/index.php/research/en-cours/194-2021-06-11-07-42-49
  4. FishMPABlue2 (Fishing governance in MPAs: potentialities for blue economy), https://fishmpablue-2.interreg-med.eu/
  5. IMPEKAB (Impact of environmental change on planktonic photosymbioses), http://ecoseas.unice.fr/index.php/research/en-cours/144-impekab-impact-of-environmental-change-on-planktonic-photosymbioses
  6. MERMAID (Marine Ecosystems, Animal Resources and Human Strategies in Ancient Mediterranean: Integrated Studies on Natural and Societal Resilience), https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101002721
  7. PAVIS (Assessing the relationships between marine protected areas and invasive species), https://anr.fr/Projet-ANR-16-ACHN-0016, http://ecoseas.unice.fr/index.php/research/termines/87-pavis-assessing-the-relationships-between-marine-protected-areas-and-invasive-species
  8. RECIF (Réseau d'Évaluation des Cantonnements et ZSC en Interface Fonctionnelle), http://ecoseas.unice.fr/index.php/research/en-cours/203-recif-reseau-d-evaluation-des-cantonnements-et-zsc-en-interface-fonctionnelle


  1. Ben Lamine, E., Guidetti, P., Romdhane, M.S., Francour, P., 2018. Fish assemblages along the coasts of Tunisia: a baseline study to assess the effectiveness of future Marine Protected Areas. Mediterranean Marine Science 19, 11. https://doi.org/10.12681/mms.14206
  2. Ben Lamine, E., Mateos-Molina, D., Antonopoulou, M., Burt, J.A., Das, H.S., Javed, S., Muzaffar, S., Giakoumi, S., 2020. Identifying coastal and marine priority areas for conservation in the United Arab Emirates. Biodivers Conserv 29, 2967–2983. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-020-02007-4
  3. Ben Lamine, E., Schickele, A., Goberville, E., Beaugrand, G., Allemand, D., Raybaud, V., 2022. Decline in High Economic Value Fish in the Mediterranean and European Seas. Scientific Reports. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-14151-8
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  5. Bottin L., Meinesz A., Garcia D. et Boulinguez R. 2022. MEDAM 2020-2021, Maintenance et amélioration de la base de données en ligne www.medam.org sur le cumul des aménagements gagnés sur la mer devant les côtes françaises de la Méditerranée. Ed. Lab. ECOSEAS CNRS UMR 7035, Université Côte d’Azur, 197 pp.
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