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The software is one of the outcomes of the LIFE ECOLAC project being coordinated by AZTI and whose partners are INGENET, the Federación Nacional de Industrias Lácteas (FENIL-National Federation of Dairy Industries) and the Central Lechera Asturiana (CAPSA-Milk Plant of Asturias). The aim of the project, funded by the European Commission, is to prevent and reduce the environmental impact associated with the production of dairy products by encouraging the ecodesign of foodstuffs through the use of software tools specifically adapted to the special characteristics of the sector. However, despite being initially geared towards the dairy sector, this tool is designed so that it can be used in other food sectors. The new tool evaluates the environmental impact of dairy products through their Life Cycle Analysis, enabling the causes and origins of this impact to be identified throughout their life cycle, from the farms right up to the final sale of a carton of milk, yogurt or other product. Furthermore, this tool also allows new scenarios for improvement to be created for the purpose of reducing the environmental impact of the product, in other words, to promote the ecodesign of new products. The tool functions by taking data directly from ERP management software and from the software of various pieces of measuring equipment that the dairy company has at its disposal, without any need for them to be inputted manually. The result obtained is the presentation of the product's environmental footprint, including its carbon footprint, water footprint or resource depletion, among other impacts; it offers the possibility of simulating the impact of new scenarios for improvement, as well as a simulation of the costs of energy, water and other materials associated with the manufacturing of the product. As a result, this tool enables environmental indicators to be built into the management of the company; this involves being able to monitor the evolution of the improvements and to set environmental aims for the future. The software has been doubly validated. Firstly, a comparative analysis of the impacts generated by various dairy products was made using commercially available tools, such as SIMAPRO, and the ECOLAC tool. The second validation was made with the Central Lechera Asturiana (CAPSA), where the environmental variable was taken into consideration in the design of a new yogurt. The result was highly satisfactory in both cases, since the evaluation of the impacts made using a piece of commercially available software and ECOLAC is totally aligned; its pilot use in the dairy company has shown that it is a highly valid tool for calculating the environmental impacts and, in the end, for the development of more eco-efficient dairy products. The tool was developed in accordance with the new recommendations emerging out of international standards, such as the European initiative "Single Market for Green Product", promoted by the General Directorate for the Environment, which has developed a new framework for evaluating the environmental footprint of products for all the EU's goods and services. This fact brings the dairy industry closer to the environmental communication and certification of the product or organisation.


Information gathering can reduce critical uncertainties and, consequently, lead to better decisions on conservation and exploitation of fisheries. Such decisions might improve the fishing opportunities or lower their variability. However, information gathering comes at a cost. The concept of the expected value of information is based on the idea that decisions will be more accurate if the decision maker has more information. The objective of this work is to use this concept to measure and understand the economic value of fishery research surveys using the mathematical theory of the expected value of information. The Bay of Biscay anchovy fishery is used as an example, given the importance of the surveys in the assessment and management in this fishery. The paper provides a measure of the value of information obtained by research surveys. It also analyses the properties of these values, considering the methodology used, and examines the circumstances under which such calculations are adequate. The sources of subjectivity inherent to this methodology and to the general concept of information signals in the fishery assessment and management are explored. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.


This project, supported by the European Commission, ends today after four years of activity and a budget of 12 M €, from which 9 have been funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the EU. The research has resulted in innovative tools, developed and validated, which relate theoretical and applied ecology in an integrative way (including remote sensing, models and genomics), in order to advance in the knowledge of the changes produced in marine ecosystems and biodiversity. The team of researchers, coordinated by Angel Borja, PhD in Biology, from AZTI (Spain), has proposed an operational definition of good environmental status and has completed new models relating human activities, pressures, changes in the state, impacts on human welfare and management responses. This includes indicators to assess biodiversity in a harmonized way in the four European regional seas (Baltic, Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea). During this period, the team has analysed the current monitoring network in Europe and has developed free software (DEVOTool), which includes more than 600 indicators used in the EU for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Moreover, DEVOTES has developed and validated 29 indicators, from which 16 are new and 13 have been refined, including all ecosystem components and the biological descriptors of the MSFD. The assessment has been undertaken using descriptors such as alteration of biodiversity, introduction of non-indigenous species, commercial fish, alteration of food-webs, eutrophication and sea-floor integrity. Moreover, the main human activities at sea have been studied, together with the socio-economic factors driving those activities. The research has included also the development of new monitoring methods (e.g. biosensors of early warning pollution, microarrays to detect Harmful Algae Blooms), metabarcoding of many species of microbes, plankton, meio- and macrofauna (available now in GenBank). Among the undertaken tasks the project has developed new monitoring tools using remote sensing, acoustic and genomics, and has proposed new ways to integrate the information provided by them to assess the environmental status of European seas. Among the developed tools, we can highlight a new free software, named NEAT (Nested Environmental status Assessment Tool), allowing to assess the health status of marine systems. It has been validated in 10 locations all around Europe. NEAT includes the previous tool DEVOTool, which includes more than 600 indicators used by member states and regional seas conventions. Moreover, through regular updates, and attending the users' needs, this software includes new applications, allowing the biodiversity assessment on line. In addition to the above results, DEVOTES has published 165 scientific papers, a free downloadable book, 10 scientific sessions have been organized, 21 post-graduate courses, 4 summer schools, near 400 contributions to international conferences and 15 PhD students have been trained. Angel Borja, the coordinator of the project said "Complex, holistic assessments of environmental status are now possible. Devotes has developed an integrated, nested Environmental status assessment tool (NEAT) which makes such assessment easier". Irina Makarenko, from the Black Sea Commission, said "The NEAT tool has been tested in at 10 sites in 4 regional seas and demonstrated to all the regional seas". Emily Corcoran from the North Atlantic OSPAR Commission said "We are studying how we can use the NEAT tool in our assessments". Sigi Gruber, head of Marine Resources, from the Directorate General of Research and Innovation, said "DEVOTES is one of 9 EU projects funded to provide state of the art, best available knowledge and the scientific basis for the implementation of the MSFD". Anna-Stiina Heiskanen, from the Finish Environmental Agency, said: "Economy and ecology can work hand in hand. In these difficult financial times, DEVOTES has developed cost-effective indicators and tools for fit-for purpose marine monitoring and assessment. The NEAT tool is freely available and has been demonstrated to many member States". Matjaz Malgaj, Head of Unit for Marine Environment and Water Industry at the European Commission said "The scientists have provided the competent authorities of the member states and regional seas commissions with the tool that fulfils their requirements". Finally, Ana-Teresa Caetano, from the Directorate General of Research and Innovation, said "The DEVOTES project has made all its data, findings and developments public, including the 165 scientific papers that were published. This is exceptional." Explore further: New software to assess the environmental status of marine ecosystems More information: DEVelopment Of innovative Tools for understanding marine biodiversity and assessing good Environmental Status. www.devotes-project.eu/


More than 250 European researchers have collaborated in developing new tools to understand marine biodiversity and assess the environmental status of our oceans, within the project DEVOTES (DEVelopment Of innovative Tools for understanding marine biodiversity and assessing good Environmental Status). This project, supported by the European Commission, ends today after four years of activity and a budget of 12 M €, from which 9 have been funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the EU. The research has resulted in innovative tools, developed and validated, which relate theoretical and applied ecology in an integrative way (including remote sensing, models and genomics), in order to advance in the knowledge of the changes produced in marine ecosystems and biodiversity. The team of researchers, coordinated by Angel Borja, PhD in Biology, from AZTI (Spain), has proposed an operational definition of good environmental status and has completed new models relating human activities, pressures, changes in the state, impacts on human welfare and management responses. This includes indicators to assess biodiversity in a harmonized way in the four European regional seas (Baltic, Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea). During this period, the team has analysed the current monitoring network in Europe and has developed free software (DEVOTool), which includes more than 600 indicators used in the EU for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Moreover, DEVOTES has developed and validated 29 indicators, from which 16 are new and 13 have been refined, including all ecosystem components and the biological descriptors of the MSFD. The assessment has been undertaken using descriptors such as alteration of biodiversity, introduction of non-indigenous species, commercial fish, alteration of food-webs, eutrophication and sea-floor integrity. Moreover, the main human activities at sea have been studied, together with the socio-economic factors driving those activities. The research has included also the development of new monitoring methods (e.g. biosensors of early warning pollution, microarrays to detect Harmful Algae Blooms), metabarcoding of many species of microbes, plankton, meio- and macrofauna (available now in GenBank). Among the undertaken tasks the project has developed new monitoring tools using remote sensing, acoustic and genomics, and has proposed new ways to integrate the information provided by them to assess the environmental status of European seas. Among the developed tools, we can highlight a new free software, named NEAT (Nested Environmental status Assessment Tool), allowing to assess the health status of marine systems. It has been validated in 10 locations all around Europe. NEAT includes the previous tool DEVOTool, which includes more than 600 indicators used by member states and regional seas conventions. Moreover, through regular updates, and attending the users' needs, this software includes new applications, allowing the biodiversity assessment on line. In addition to the above results, DEVOTES has published 165 scientific papers, a free downloadable book, 10 scientific sessions have been organized, 21 post-graduate courses, 4 summer schools, near 400 contributions to international conferences and 15 PhD students have been trained. Angel Borja, the coordinator of the project said "Complex, holistic assessments of environmental status are now possible. Devotes has developed an integrated, nested Environmental status assessment tool (NEAT) which makes such assessment easier". Irina Makarenko, from the Black Sea Commission, said "The NEAT tool has been tested in at 10 sites in 4 regional seas and demonstrated to all the regional seas". Emily Corcoran from the North Atlantic OSPAR Commission said "We are studying how we can use the NEAT tool in our assessments". Sigi Gruber, head of Marine Resources, from the Directorate General of Research and Innovation, said "DEVOTES is one of 9 EU projects funded to provide state of the art, best available knowledge and the scientific basis for the implementation of the MSFD". Anna-Stiina Heiskanen, from the Finish Environmental Agency, said: "Economy and ecology can work hand in hand. In these difficult financial times, DEVOTES has developed cost-effective indicators and tools for fit-for purpose marine monitoring and assessment. The NEAT tool is freely available and has been demonstrated to many member States". Matjaz Malgaj, Head of Unit for Marine Environment and Water Industry at the European Commission said "The scientists have provided the competent authorities of the member states and regional seas commissions with the tool that fulfils their requirements". Finally, Ana-Teresa Caetano, from the Directorate General of Research and Innovation, said "The DEVOTES project has made all its data, findings and developments public, including the 165 scientific papers that were published. This is exceptional."


News Article | March 4, 2016
Site: www.scientificcomputing.com

The new tool, called NEAT — Nested Environmental status Assessment Tool — is designed to support the assessment of marine areas by the environmental authorities of EU Member States, and also by the Regional Seas Conventions and for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. It integrates a previously released tool that includes over 500 indicators used or being developed by European Member States and can be used for all types of environmental assessment. "NEAT allows us to assess the environmental status of European seas in an integrative way," says Dr. Borja of AZTI in Spain, an expert on marine biodiversity and coordinator of the European research project DEVOTES. "This is the result of collaborative effort of 23 partners, distributed across 14 countries, after four years of research in the Baltic, Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Seas" says Borja. "Our research is important for improving the understanding of the effects of human activities on marine biodiversity, as well as variations due to climate change." "Marine health assessments are complex," says Borja, "but this tool makes the task much easier." According to Torsten Berg from MariLim in Germany, who is one of the authors of the software, "some of these tools can be difficult to use, so we worked hard to make a user-friendly interface." Using NEAT is simple, users first select the regional sea in which thee want to assess the status, and then choose the appropriate indicators, habitats and ecosystem components for a specific area within the regional sea. "NEAT determines the uncertainty of indicator values, so you can evaluate the confidence of your assessment. The more indicators and data you use, the better the assessment will be," highlights Jacob Carstensen from Aarhus University, an environmental statistician who worked on the development of the tool. But the very best of NEAT is its flexibility, "users can customize each step of the assessment, and the assessment better reflects the reality of the area," adds Jesper Andersen, from NIVA Denmark Water Research, who is one of the designers of the idea, "NEAT is so versatile that it can also be used for other types of environmental assessment, not just marine biodiversity." So, it could also be used by firms and consultancies that carry out all types of environmental assessment. NEAT and its guidelines are freely available from the DEVOTES Web site: www.devotes-project.eu/neat. In the coming months, NEAT will be enhanced with even more features and possibilities to perform a tailor-made biodiversity assessment. Updates will be released regularly. Project members are now disseminating the tool and organizing training workshops in member states and for regional seas conventions. "We have already demonstrated the tool to authorities in Portugal and Spain," says Alice Newton, from NILU in Norway and the University of Algarve in Portugal, "and it has been well-received by the Regional Seas Conventions." The DEVOTES project will be featured by the Euronews TV channel in June 2016 and will hold a conference in Brussels in October for key stakeholders and leading scientists. The theme of the conference is "Marine Biodiversity, the key to healthy and productive seas." Explore further: Clean seas by 2020: Scientists identify main environmental 'stressors' in the Mediterranean and Black Seas


News Article | December 21, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The aim of the framework contract is to provide the European Commission the scientific advice they need in order to ensure the sustainable management of EU fisheries outside EU waters, which are managed by international fishery management organisation. The provision of scientific advice will especially focus on the External Dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy (excluding the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea). The advice and services required by the European Commission will support the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), especially the external policy, by applying the precautionary approach and focusing on safeguarding the entire ecosystem, and ensuring that the EU environmental laws (Marine Strategy Framework Directive) and the Integrated Maritime Policy are complied with. The EUR 4M budget for the framework contract is funded by the EU via the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Other organisations that are part of the consortium led by AZTI include Institut national supérieur des sciences agronomiques, agroalimentaires, horticoles et du paysage (AGROCAMPUS OUEST); Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS); Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO); Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies (IMARES); Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera, I.P. (IPMA); Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD); and MRAG Limited (MRAG).


News Article | March 17, 2016
Site: phys.org

So far, the genetic methods for establishing proper DNA identification used to take several days to produce some conclusive results. This innovative methodology is of great interest for the canning industry and is a tool that can help to authenticate what it says on the label. Changes in production processes have led to a revolution in the canning industry, since canned products are produced in many cases using imported frozen tuna fillets. These skinned fillets offer tremendous advantages in terms of productivity and yield of the processes, yet on occasions, in view of the difficulty in distinguishing between species visually, errors may occur in the labelling of canned products. The DNA system developed by the Molecular Biology Laboratory at AZTI-Tecnalia for detecting various species of canned and processed tuna, has received accreditation from the National Accreditation Body (ENAC). This methodology not only offers speed in identifying species but also reliable, conclusive results. So this new method denotes a great opportunity to guarantee that products are properly labelled and to ensure quality for consumers. Authentication methodologies for canned products are generally based on DNA fragment detection in any kind of processed fish sample, including canned fish. These methods, known as genetic methods, are always very reliable but the downside is that it takes several days to obtain a conclusive result. However, AZTI-Tecnalia's innovative system based on fluorescent probe detection enables an accurate result within 24 hours. The Molecular Biology Laboratory at AZTI-Tecnalia continues developing new methods to authenticate several marine species in order to provide effective tools for the fishing and canning industry to ensure their traceability systems. DNA technology enables specialists at the R&D centre to genetically identify Bay of Biscay anchovy and albacore tuna, among other fish. They also provide systems for authentication of Arabica coffee, cheeses under protected designation of origin, juices, and blends of meat, among other foodstuffs.


This research examines the social, economic and coercive incentives provided by fisheries management measures. Qualitative information was collected through interviews, and focus groups were organized to gather knowledge from regional stakeholders, to provide regional and European authorities with empirical evidence of the perceived legitimacy of current and future management measures under different co-management systems. Legitimacy greatly influences fishermen's behavior and therefore compliance. Qualitative and quantitative information are combined in an impact-assessment analysis to identify bio-socioeconomic impacts of different management measures on the fishing activity, under the current Common Fisheries Policy, in the medium and long term. The results will help regional and European authorities define new management measures aimed at providing the right incentives to achieve the results. This paper demonstrates the necessity of introducing management measures that combine the various types of incentives mentioned. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | October 28, 2016
Site: phys.org

Under the assumptions of Stephen P. Hubbell's neutral theory of biodiversity and Motoo Kimura's neutral theory of molecular evolution, dispersal limitation and demographic changes in populations due to chance (stochasticity) determine genetic and ecology drift, respectively. So these processes would shape not only the genetic structure of the populations within the space, but also the structure of communities and their spatial beta-diversity patterns. These aspects compared have scarcely been explored empirically in the marine ecosystem, in particular. In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, a team comprising 17 scientists from 14 centres and led by the Spanish R&D centre AZTI have gathered large data sets on the genetic structure of populations (98 benthic macroinvertebrate species and 35 plankton species) and biogeographical data (2,193 benthic macroinvertebrate species and 734 plankton species) with the aim of confirming the predictions of the Hubbell and Kimura theories in marine biological connectivity. "Better understanding the regional patterns of the populations and communities are essential aspects in protecting and managing marine biodiversity," explained Guillem Chust, an AZTI researcher. "With these data and based on the genetic differentiations relative to geographical distance and the diversity of species that comprise a community, we have been able to estimate the dispersal distances." The most significant result found by this research team stems from the fact that "the estimated dispersal distances ranked the biological groups in the same order at both genetic and community levels, as predicted by organism dispersal ability and seascape connectivity, as predicted by the type of dispersal and the connectivity of the seascape it inhabits," stressed Chust. Specifically, according to the results of the research, in the species that inhabit or are found associated with sediment (macrobenthos) and whose larvae are not dispersed in the plankton display shorter dispersal distances than those whose larvae are dispersed in the plankton. Likewise, both groups displayed smaller dispersal scales than the plankton species (including phyto- and zoo-plankton). This range of dispersion scales is associated with the limitations of movement by the macrobenthos on the seabed, compared with the pelagic habitat where the plankton populations are more connected through the marine currents owing to passive dispersal. These results show that "the limitation in the dispersal of individuals similarly determines the degree of connectivity not only of species between communities but also of the genes in the subpopulations of the same species, thus supporting the predictions of the neutral theories in marine biodiversity patterns," says the AZTI researcher. "Dispersal therefore emerges as a key element in generating biogeographical distribution patterns above other processes also involved, such as environmental differentiation by ecological niche and speciation through natural selection," he concluded. Explore further: Human transport has unpredictable genetic and evolutionary consequences for marine species More information: Guillem Chust et al. Dispersal similarly shapes both population genetics and community patterns in the marine realm, Scientific Reports (2016). DOI: 10.1038/srep28730


News Article | October 28, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Dispersal plays a key role to connect populations, and contrastingly, its moderate limitation is one of the main processes to maintain species coexistence and promote regional biodiversity. A study recently published in Scientific Reports has explored whether neutral theory predictions with respect to marine biological connectivity are correct or not. Under the assumptions of Stephen P. Hubbell's neutral theory of biodiversity and Motoo Kimura's neutral theory of molecular evolution, dispersal limitation and demographic changes in populations due to chance (stochasticity) determine genetic and ecology drift, respectively. So these processes would shape not only the genetic structure of the populations within the space, but also the structure of communities and their spatial beta-diversity patterns. These aspects compared have scarcely been explored empirically in the marine ecosystem, in particular. In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, a team comprising 17 scientists from 14 centres and led by the Spanish R&D centre AZTI have gathered large data sets on the genetic structure of populations (98 benthic macroinvertebrate species and 35 plankton species) and biogeographical data (2,193 benthic macroinvertebrate species and 734 plankton species) with the aim of confirming the predictions of the Hubbell and Kimura theories in marine biological connectivity. "Better understanding the regional patterns of the populations and communities are essential aspects in protecting and managing marine biodiversity," explained Guillem Chust, an AZTI researcher. "With these data and based on the genetic differentiations relative to geographical distance and the diversity of species that comprise a community, we have been able to estimate the dispersal distances." The most significant result found by this research team stems from the fact that "the estimated dispersal distances ranked the biological groups in the same order at both genetic and community levels, as predicted by organism dispersal ability and seascape connectivity, as predicted by the type of dispersal and the connectivity of the seascape it inhabits," stressed Chust. Specifically, according to the results of the research, in the species that inhabit or are found associated with sediment (macrobenthos) and whose larvae are not dispersed in the plankton display shorter dispersal distances than those whose larvae are dispersed in the plankton. Likewise, both groups displayed smaller dispersal scales than the plankton species (including phyto- and zoo-plankton). This range of dispersion scales is associated with the limitations of movement by the macrobenthos on the seabed, compared with the pelagic habitat where the plankton populations are more connected through the marine currents owing to passive dispersal. These results show that "the limitation in the dispersal of individuals similarly determines the degree of connectivity not only of species between communities but also of the genes in the subpopulations of the same species, thus supporting the predictions of the neutral theories in marine biodiversity patterns," says the AZTI researcher. "Dispersal therefore emerges as a key element in generating biogeographical distribution patterns above other processes also involved, such as environmental differentiation by ecological niche and speciation through natural selection," he concluded. This piece of research has been conducted within the framework of the DEVOTES European project (DEVelopment Of innovative Tools for understanding marine biodiversity and assessing good Environmental Status; http://www. ), coordinated by Basque research institute AZTI. Chust, G., E. Villarino, A. Chenuil, X. Irigoien, N. Bizsel, A. Bode, C. Broms, S. Claus, M. L. Fernández de Puelles, S. Fonda-Umani, G. Hoarau, M. G. Mazzocchi, P. Mozetič, L. Vandepitte, H. Veríssimo, S. Zervoudaki, and A. Borja. 2016. Dispersal similarly shapes both population genetics and community patterns in the marine realm. Scientific Reports 6:28730.

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