Creating a long-term infrastructure for MARine Biodiversity research
in the European economic area and the Newly Associated states
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The first MARBENA e-conference ran for two weeks, from 22 April to 3 May 2002 :

European heritage under threat: Marine Biodiversity in Mediterranean Ecosystems

Co-chairs : Carlos Duarte and Damian Jaume

Because of events that occurred during its formation and subsequent history, the Mediterranean basin shows a rich marine biodiversity as compared to other temperate seas. This biodiversity is still not totally disclosed, and yet there is concern that it is already being lost. The perceived erosion of Mediterranean marine biodiversity, which affects species within a broad range of taxa, has been linked to increasing human pressure, derived from local (point and diffuse) and regional/global changes. Indeed, the Mediterranean coastline has experienced rapid change during the past century, including - among others - constructions along the coastline, increased boat traffic, exploitation of marine resources (wild and cultured), alterations of the hydrological regime of the basin and its connection to other basins (e.g. the Suez Canal), and the delivery of materials from the watersheds, as well as beach management. In addition, evidence for warming of the Mediterranean Sea has been linked to changes in the abundance of species as well as expansions of alien species. There is, therefore, the perception that Mediterranean marine biodiversity is presently under threat, but the rates and causes of these changes require further verification. The development of management strategies to monitor and conserve Mediterranean marine biodiversity should be, therefore, an important priority in the future. The present e-conference is aimed at providing a forum to exchange views and perspectives on this issue to help devise an agenda to confront and eventually revert the perceived problem.

The e-conference consisted of 7 main discussion themes, which were discussed in subsequent working days, with Carlos Duarte and Damian Jaume acting as co-chairs/moderators. They started and ended the sessions every day, and prepared summaries that will be posted on the web site. For each day, an opponent for the chairs was selected.

The conference was scheduled around 7 topics:
TopicStarting dateTitleOpponent
122 April "Is Marine Biodiversity under threat in the Mediterranean?" Enrique Macpherson
223 April "What are the rates and causes of the erosion of Mediterranean Marine Biodiversity?" Miquel Alcarez
324 April "Is invasion by alien species a major problem?" Francesc Pagès
525 April "How to incorporate Mediterranean Marine Biodiversity into Sustainable Management Strategies?, How to incorporate this into Cost/Benefit analyses?" Pere Oliver
426 April "How should Mediterranean Marine Biodiversity be monitored?, how to develop and use Early Warning Indicators?" Joandomènec Ros
27-28 April Opportunity to send comments and continue discussions on summaries of sessions 1 to 5.
629 April "Ecosystem-oriented protection and management vs.Species-specific strategies" Raquel Goñi
730 April "Hot topics in the management of the Mediterranen littoral zone. Beach management, development and marine ecosystem under-threat: The case of Posidonia oceanica meadows". Jorge Terrados
1 to 3 May Opportunity to send comments and continue discussions on summaries of sessions 6 and 7, general discussion, loose ends and synthesis.

General coordination: Carlo Heip ,Herman Hummel and Pim van Avesaath
Web site and conference hosted by VLIZ