Setting standards for marine habitat mapping

To help establish a consistent approach to future mapping programmes and facilitate data exchange and aggregation, MESH has developed A Guide to Marine Habitat Mapping that includes a set of internationally agreed Recommended Operating Guidelines (ROGs) for marine survey that contributes data to seabed habitat mapping projects. The MESH Guide presents the best advice available following the work of the MESH Partners during the project. The ROGS draw upon a review of existing standards and protocols together with advice from the best available expertise across Europe and elsewhere. All this advice will hopefully encourage future local, regional and national mapping initiatives to be more compatible and so they can be used to continue to build and maintain integrated habitat maps for the seas of north-west Europe. The Marine Institute (Ireland) and IFREMER (France) led the project's work on this topic with the Marine Institute and Cefas (UK) concentrating on deeper offshore regions, and IFREMER focusing on inter-tidal and near-shore shallow sub-tidal habitats.
Standards and Protocols © MESH
Standards apply to data and ensure quality assurance of data, common terminology and formats, and compatibility of data between different techniques and technologies. Protocols apply to methods and ensure consistency in survey methodology, consistency in data interpretation, and common methods for extrapolation, interpolation and aggregation of data across spatial scales. Standards and protocols have been established for each of the main mapping techniques, together with various combinations of techniques.
The standards and protocols proposed by MESH were tested through a range of field-testing scenarios involving trans-national co-operation between the Partners to ensure they are robust. Wherever possible and relevant, stakeholders were encouraged to contribute to these testing programmes to ensure the wider acceptability of the outputs. A series of research cruises and mapping studies have been carried out during the testing phase which also help fill some of the gaps identified during the data collation phase to extend the area of seabed mapped in north-west Europe.
A wide range of remote sensing techniques are now available for mapping the seabed but their outputs vary in how they image the same type of seabed. The project developed a catalogue of  images showing how the same type of seabed appears using different remote sensing techniques - the MESH seabed signatures catalogue is available online to help users interpret their seabed images.

Outputs and Products

The key products delivered by this action are:
Additional outputs, for example reports on project workshops, are available in the Product Library.