Several EU directives and OSPAR guidelines require transnational sustainable management of marine resources. Benthic organisms are key components in environmental impact assessments and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Currently, indicators are mainly based on morphological species identification, being time-consuming, labor-intensive and skills reliant. DNA-based tools promise cheaper, faster and more accurate methods, yet, different approaches between countries are used which hamper standard routine application.
GEANS aims to harmonize and consolidate existing genetic tools and methods. Transnational co-operation will create synergies and assure comparability. An open library, linking DNA-sequences to species functioning, will guarantee continuity of traditional assessment series. Real time pilot studies, in close cooperation with managers, policymakers and involved stakeholders, will deliver proof of concept on the added value of genetic approaches in environmental health management. A decision support framework will include a fit for purpose choice of genetic tools and protocols, helping to translate genetic results into simple indicators.
GEANS will mainstream implementation of fast, accurate, cost-effective DNA-based assessments, enabling national authorities to adapt management measures in a transnational coherent way, resulting in improved management of human activities and protection of the marine environment across the North Sea Region.