Study aims to develop standard for marine monitoring

Researchers are developing new methods to measure the effects of harmful substances on marine life in the hope they will be adopted in poorly-monitored regions.

The Finnish scientists leading the project, which is part of the Euro 60m BONUS research programme, are using bio-marker methods to study fish, shellfish and crustaceans in different parts of the Baltic Sea region.

According to the team, which includes members of research institutes in all the Baltic Sea countries, there are major deficiencies in monitoring these trends in the region compared to other maritime regions.

It is hoped the project will promote the introduction of more advanced methods and comprehensive monitoring programmes and assessments of the Baltic Sea.

“The introduction of new methods significantly advances the observation of the environmental load caused by human activity and the understanding of its effects on the eco-system of the Baltic Sea,” said project coordinator Kari Lehtonen, senior scientist at the Marine Centre of the Finnish Environment Centre.

The team is also looking at how the changes at molecular and cell level caused by chemicals appear at other biological levels, such as in human health and reproduction, and in the population size and structure of different species.

Following the project, recommendations and guidelines will be drawn up for a new strategy which will aim to set out a uniform method of monitoring the effect of harmful substances on marine life.

The project is one of several in the BONUS programme, which was launched at the beginning of this year and is being funded by the EU Commission and research funding organisations from the nine Baltic Sea nations.

Kate Martin

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