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NECCTON project launch: marine biodiversity conservation & food resource management

1 February 2023

NECCTON project kickoff group photo

PML scientists were in Toulouse last week for the kickoff of a major new Horizon Europe project.  

NECCTON (New Copernicus Capability for Tropic Ocean Networks) is designed to support the delivery of products that inform marine biodiversity conservation and food resources management, by fusing innovative ocean ecosystem models and new data. 

What is NECCTON? 

Dr James Clark, Marine Systems Modeller at PML, who has been in Toulouse for the NECCTON project launch, said: 

“NECCTON is an exciting project that can benefit marine biodiversity conservation and food resources management in two key areas. 

Firstly, NECCTON aims to better meet information needs for policymakers to assess biodiversity and food resources, to better inform decisions in managing our ocean responsibly. 

Secondly, NECCTON aims to improve the quality and range of biogeochemical products and services available through the Copernicus Marine Service (CMEMS). CMEMS provides free, regular and systematic authoritative information on the state of the ocean, globally and regionally. It is designed to increase global ocean literacy and boost the blue economy across all maritime sectors by providing state-of-the-art ocean data and information free of charge. 

NECCTON will allow the delivery of quality-assessed products required by the Copernicus Marine service user community, and this essential data can contribute to: combating pollution, marine protection, maritime safety and routing, sustainable use of ocean resources, developing renewable marine energy resources, supporting blue growth, climate monitoring, forecasting, and more.” 



The ocean’s biodiversity provides us with vital services: it sustains 32 out of the 33 known main animal phyla and supports the livelihoods of over three billion people. These services are under pressure from human activities and climate change and so are routinely monitored by marine operational centers, such as the state-of-the-art European Copernicus Marine Service (CMEMS). 

CMEMS intends to produce accurate ocean monitoring products by integrating satellites and in situ ocean observations with marine models. The models currently applied are limited in the provision of information on biodiversity and marine food-webs. This lack of information hampers United Nations and European efforts to conserve and use these vital ocean services sustainably. 

[Source: NECCTON website] 


How does NECCTON work? 

Dr Clark continues: 

“NECCTON involves combining data from ocean model components (physics-biology), habitats (pelagic-benthic), high and low trophic levels (fish-plankton) and stressors (e.g., pollution impacting trophic webs).” 

“The project will further expand the ecosystem modelling from resuspended sediment to large marine mammals, including synergistic climate and human impacts, e.g., ocean deoxygenation and fisheries.” 


Who is involved in NECCTON? 

“Plymouth Marine Laboratory has been involved in the NECCTON from the start, and we’re proud to join the consortium of 22 other world-leading research-intensive institutes, universities, and small and medium enterprises, who have each brought unique skills and expertise to the table to make this possible.” 

The consortium is coordinated by Mercator Ocean International (MOi), which is the entrusted entity of the Copernicus Marine Service, and led by Dr Stefano Ciavatta from MOi. PML is helping to manage the project, while Dr Clark leads WP5 “Improving the CMEMS capability in lower-trophic level modelling”. 

Full project details available on the NECCTON project website: 


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