THE NORTH SEA, FIELD LAB FOR MARINE PROTECTION
A symposium organised by the Westbanks consortium and the Marine Board
Working Group on Marine Protected Areas (ESF)
The Belgian Continental Shelf (BCS) is characterized by numerous subtidal sandbanks. Their parallel, close position to the coastline and the shallowness of the area make them unique.
The biological features of the BCS were studied intensively during the framework of the Belgian Sustainable Development Programmes.
The projects highlighted the great significance of the Western Coastal Banks area from a biological point of view: The area harbours a very rich macrobenthic community, is an important foraging area for seabirds and nursery ground for juvenile fish.
WestBanks will build on the expertise and knowledge concerning structural and functional characteristics of the higher trophic levels (benthos, fish and birds).
The project will focus on structuring processes and interactions on the species and population level situated at the sediment, water and air interface of the marine ecosystem.
Protection of important key-species:provide information on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning link
Fisheries managment: role of Lanice-reefs in sustaining fish populations
Dispersal modelling + molecular input: gather information on the resilience of key-species to disturbances
Develop monitoring tools for top predators