The MERCES 1st annual meeting took place in Heraklion (Crete, Greece) from 20 to 22 June 2017. A large audience (more than 60 participants) including members of the Consortium, members of the project Advisory Board, invited speakers and the EU Project Officer attended the meeting. All work-packages were presented into plenary sessions including 30 oral talks on the specific progress of the different cases study, covering the WP1: European marine habitats, degradation and restoration; WP2: Restoration of marine, shallow soft bottoms habitats; WP3: Restoration of coastal shallow hard bottoms and mesophotic habitats; and WP4: Restoration of deep-sea habitats. The other WPs (WP5: Effects of restoration on the recovery of ecosystem services; WP6: Legal governance and policy; WP7: Socio-economic impacts of restoration; WP8: Putting Business at the Heart of the Restoration Agenda; WP9: Dissemination, communication and public engagement; and WP10: Project Management) were presented by an overview on the own progresses, followed by a general discussion with the audience. Overall 18 posters illustrated the different topics of the MERCES project, spreading from WP1 to WP9. The second day of the meeting opened with an Open Science Session with Prof Roberto Danovaro, the MERCES coordinator, who welcomed all participants and introduced the MERCES project, followed by the talks of different experts on ecological restoration (James Aronson from the Society for Ecological Restoration), representatives of the H2020 projects ATLAS and SponGES, the EU Project Officer Ariana Nastaseanu and Eleni Hatziyianni from the Region of Crete.
The Open Science Session stimulated a rich discussion on the ecological restoration in marine ecosystems among different experts going from scientists with different background to socio-economists and politicians. During the meeting, the General Assembly met for the 2nd time, as well as the Steering Committee and the Advisory Board. The annual meeting was preceded by a two-days WP4 workshop and was followed by two-days WP5 and 6 workshops.