MISSION ATLANTIC will develop Integrated Ecosystems Assessments (IEAs) for seven regional Case Studies in the Atlantic Ocean. Here, Mary Gasalla case study 5 lead, tells us about the South Mid Atlantic Ridge.

Case Study 5: South Mid Atlantic Ridge (SOMAR)

The acronym 'SOMAR' means to add in Portuguese, which synthesizes the idea around this work: to add a new perspective to the South Mid Atlantic Ridge Islands in terms of connectivity and governance beyond and across national jurisdictions. The study area comprises the beautiful Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s Archipelago, Saint Helena, and Ascension Islands, where we have started the MISSION ATLANTIC Integrated Ecosystem Assessment.

The reef fish biogeography has provided a unique foundation for this study area. We have started examining the genetic connectivity between populations in the South Atlantic. This topic and recent scientific advances were discussed at the recent Networking Fridays Air Centre (May 2021).

We have also been working on gaining an increased understanding of the marine ecosystem status by scoping the main anthropogenic pressures in the region, and have participated in almost 10 multidisciplinary team meetings on this topic, working closely with colleagues in WP1. These meetings have resulted in the production of a topographic map of the study area that will help us define future analysis and modelling.

Another aspect of our work has been an extensive bibliographic search (under WP7) which will support the 'scoring exercise' within the MISSION ATLATINC IEA methodology. We score the importance of the different pressures and industrial sectors on the study site following a series of procedures. We've also consulted with marine authorities of the three EEZs and applied their expert judgment to the area. Together, this work has revealed a preliminary risk analysis of the main pressures, sectors, and ecological components at SOMAR. Fishing, shipping, and coastal infrastructure appear to be key sectors while litter and species extraction are major pressures in the region.

For us, the next step includes a validation meeting of the scoring with experts from the different islands in the SOMAR region and a workshop with a broad range of stakeholders. We hope to hold these meetings in June 2021.

We will also work on compiling temporal data of fish species and will contribute to both time-series analysis (WP5) and the metadata of the entire project (WP2).

We would like to acknowledge the collaboration of the Brazilian Long-term Ecological Program (PELD) on Oceanic Islands, and key marine authorities of Ascension and Saint Helena (Environmental Management Divisions), without whom this work would not be possible.

Stay tuned to missionatlantic.eu for more news from SOMAR!