Agreement on first-order criteria during December 2006 workshop on marine biological valuation?

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This article provides an introduction to the dicussions on the development of criteria to assess biological value in the marine environment. It is derived from discussions held during a workshop on marine biological valuation, held from 6 to 8 December 2006 at Ghent (Belgium). The workshop was a joint venture of the EU CA ENCORA ( and the EU NoE MARBEF ( Both Theme 7 within ENCORA and Theme 3 within MARBEF deal with marine/coastal biological valuation and the workshop aimed to reach a consensus on this topic.

Is 'rarity' a suitable first-order valuation criterion?

  • All groups agree that ‘rarity’ should be kept as a first-order criterion.
    • Clear definitions are needed!
    • Most groups would only assess rarity at the physical/habitat level and not on the genetic or species level.
  • The definition of 'rarity' can be kept as long as it is mentioned that it is a relative measure.
    • Rarity is assessed for each subzone relative to the others. It is not an absolute measure.
    • Accidental recordings/vagrants should not be considered under ‘rarity’ and this should be made clear in the description of the protocol.

Is 'aggregation' a suitable first-order valuation criterion?

  • Most groups thought that ‘aggregation’ and ‘fitness consequences’ are linked to each other in many cases and suggest merging them into one criterion, called 'aggregation-fitness consequences'
  • ‘Aggregation’ and ‘fitness consequences’ should be combined EITHER/OR because they do not always fully overlap.

Is 'fitness consequences' a suitable first-order valuation criterion?

  • See ‘aggregation’.
  • Difficult to find practical algorithms to assess this.

Are there any first-order criteria lacking in the concept?

  • 'Resilience' was discussed as a possible candidate.
    • All groups agreed not to include it in the concept as a valuation criterion as it is too closely linked to human impact.
    • However, certain habitats are known to be more resilient to natural impacts than others and could get a higher value for that. But such kind of resilience is already treated within the ‘goods & services’ valuation as defined by MARBEF theme 3 and should therefore not be treated here. The future decision support system that will be built around the socio-economic and biological valuation should integrate both values.
  • All participants agreed that no additional criteria should be added to the list of first-order criteria.


These paragraphs reflect the main discussion outcomes of the ENCORA Theme 7-MARBEF Theme 3 workshop on marine biological valuation (6-8 December 2006, Gent, Belgium). (