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Identifying Risks and pressures on Atlantic Ocean Ecosystems

Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) help decision makers to balance the need for protecting the ocean and the need to use ocean resources, and as a result, develop better management plans.

Work packages

Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs)

IEAs go beyond observing ecosystem status. Engaging scientists, marine stakeholders, and resource managers, the process enables the identification and evaluation of ecosystem components most at risk from natural hazards and the consequences of human activities.

This knowledge provides much-needed evidence to support managers and policy makers in their decision-making, and balances the need for environmental protection with secure, sustainable development. This ensures a positive future for the Atlantic Ocean and its peoples.

MISSION ATLANTIC will be the first initiative to develop operational IEAs and systematically apply IEAs through the Atlantic basin and regional case studies.

5 Steps in the IEA Process



Scope key management objectives and human activities, and the ecosystem components affected by these, through a formal process of stakeholder involvement.



Develop a suite of indicators and reference levels for assessing status, drivers and resilience of ecosystems, as well as the occurrence of tipping points.


Scenario testing

Simulate ecosystem state and dynamics under various scenarios of climate change, resource exploitation and social development using end-to-end ecosystem models.


Risk Analyses

Assess risks and vulnerabilities of ecosystems to present impacts and future changes through a suite of qualitative and quantitative approaches.



Evaluate management options for achieving desired outcomes, reflecting the needs and trade-offs between ecological, economic and social objectives.

Work Packages

MISSION ATLANTIC includes ten Work Packages structured around IEA principles with research activities on: big data technology and management (WP2), mapping pelagic and benthic habitats (WP3, 4), ecosystem state indicators and future scenarios (WP5, 6) and assessment of ecosystem risks and vulnerabilities in associated ecosystem services (WP7). Advancing IEAs at Case Study sites is coordinated through WP1. Two Work Packages (WP8, WP9) are dedicated to training, building future capacity, and societal engagement. WP10 is devoted to Project Management.

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Case Studies

Mission Atlantic will develop IEAs for seven regional Case Studies, in sub-Arctic and Tropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean, ranging from shelf seas to the mid-Atlantic Ridge.