About the project

Project budget: € 6.651.118,20
Partners: 28
Start date: 1 June 2016
Duration: 48 months

The MERCES project is focused on the restoration of different degraded marine habitats, with the aim of: 1) assessing the potential of different technologies and approaches; 2) quantifying the returns in terms of ecosystems services and their socio-economic impacts; 3) defining the legal-policy and governance frameworks needed to optimize the effectiveness of the different restoration approaches. Specific aims include: a) improving existing, and developing new, restoration actions of degraded marine habitats; b) increasing the adaptation of EU degraded marine habitats to global change; c) enhancing marine ecosystem resilience and services; d) conducting cost-benefit analyses for marine restoration measures; e) creating new industrial targets and opportunities.

To achieve these objectives MERCES created a multi-disciplinary consortium with skills in marine ecology, restoration, law, policy and governance, socio-economics, knowledge transfer, dissemination and communication. MERCES will start from the inventory of EU degraded marine habitats (WP1), conduct pilot restoration experiments (WP2, WP3, WP4), assess the effects of restoration on ecosystem services (WP5). The legal, policy and governance outputs will make effective the potential of marine restoration (WP6) and one dedicated WP will assess the socioeconomic returns of marine ecosystems’ restoration (WP7). The transfer of knowledge and the links with the industrial stakeholders will be the focus of WP8.

The results of MERCES will be disseminated to the widest audience (WP9). The project will be managed through a dedicated management office (WP10). MERCES will contribute to the Blue Growth by: i) improving the EU scientific knowledge on marine restoration, ii) contributing to EU Marine Directives; iii) implementing the Restoration Agenda, iv) enhancing the industrial capacity in this field, v) increasing the competitiveness of EU in the world market of restoration, and vi) offering new employment opportunities.


The structure of MERCES project


MERCES actions will be pursued through 9 Work Packages (WPs 1-9), with top-down linkages modulated and coordinated by Work Package 10. WP1 will produce a census of European marine habitats, their degradation status and restoration potential, and will provide a synthesis of previous experiences of marine restoration. The WP1 analysis will allow the ‘operative’ WPs 2-3-4 to compare new approaches devised in MERCES with previous marine restoration activities. The information from WP1 will allow the fine tuning of the three ‘field’ Work Packages, avoiding any unnecessary repetition of past unsuccessful trials and experiments.

The three operative work packages will put in place different (active and passive) restoration actions in three different marine habitats: shallow soft bottoms (WP2), shallow hard bottoms and mesophotic habitats (WP3), and deep-sea environments (WP4).

The results gained by each of the three ‘field’ WPs will be continuously monitored and passed to WP5 in a timely fashion. WP5 will analyse the effects of restoration on the recovery of ecosystem services and, at the same time, will serve as a source of information for the two Work Packages dedicated to 1) the analysis of legal, governance and policy issues related with restoration (WP6), and 2) the socio-economic impacts of restoration (WP7).

The field and laboratory work of WPs 2-3-4 and the results of WPs 5-6-7 will provide the fundamental knowledge for WP8 engage with industry and put business at the heart of the Restoration Agenda driving new blue-growth business development. WP8 will also bring industry’s voice to the table to influence the direction of the field and laboratory work, and to pose specific industry-focussed questions to experts in law and socio-economic issues.

WP9 will disseminate and promote the MERCES outcomes (e.g., tools and guidelines) to multiple and heterogeneous target groups outside the MERCES consortium (excluding industry which is specifically targeted in WP8), from the scientific community to non-specialized (citizenship) audiences and will engage all stakeholders throughout the life of the project. In particular, WP9 will focus on advising policy makers in the European Commission and national governments. Activities of WPs 1-9 and their interactions will be coordinated, modulated and monitored through WP10, dedicated to the functional and administrative management of the MERCES project.