A Healthy Ocean

A Healthy Ocean

What is it?

Most life on Earth is in the ocean and human activity is its greatest threat. Marine research provides the knowledge and tools to build a sustainable blue economy and a healthy ocean for generations to come.

Plastic pollution of the oceans is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic find their way into our oceans, where they pose a threat to both marine and human life.

A Healthy Ocean
Why is it important?

The ocean is in our hands. It is an immense, complex ecosystem with a myriad of life forms, from the tiniest of organisms to the largest of whales. This system is vast and wild, but not infinite.

We are seeking to improve ocean health, promote sustainable management of the Atlantic Ocean, and enhance protection of its vulnerable life forms and habitats.

Where are we now?

Under AORA, Atlantic researchers are now collaborating on a number of projects looking to improve and sustain healthy oceans into the future.

Some achievements to date:

  • Scientists from Canada, the European Union and the United States of America have coordinated their expedition efforts to map deep-sea ecosystems in the Atlantic. This, in turn, has allowed them to maximise the use of personnel, funds, technological capacity and available infrastructures to promote collaborations, exchange expertise and share data.
  • Recent deployments of new sensors in the eastern subpolar North Atlantic will enable a key advancement in our ability to understand the interactions of ocean physics with ocean ecosystems, in particular, for Atlantic cold-water coral systems. A publicly accessible database on deep-sea biodiversity of the North Atlantic, with an emphasis on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), has been produced.
  • Emerging results indicate that temperature change, ocean acidification, fisheries, and their cumulative effects pose the greatest risks to ecosystem services.
  • Scientists are now filling in substantial knowledge gaps, undertaking extensive expeditions to discover different types of sponge ground ecosystems in the northernmost Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.
  • Sea sponges, in general, enhance the total biodiversity in an area, providing habitat and functioning as a nursery for other species, including commercially important ones. Scientists are now able to quantify the role of sponge grounds in the deep-sea food web in the health of the ocean.
How are we doing it?

The challenge of keeping our ocean healthy is too great for any one nation to tackle alone. Together, we are building an Atlantic community of researchers, policymakers, businesses and citizens. This Atlantic Community extends across and along the Atlantic Ocean.

AORA facilitates common research and knowledge exchange for us to provide healthy, resilient oceans for us and future generations.


SponGES is a research and innovation project funded under the H2020 Blue Growth BG1 call aimed at “Improving the preservation and sustainable exploitation of Atlantic marine ecosystems”. Its overarching goal is to develop an integrated ecosystem-based approach to preserve and sustainably use deep-sea sponge ecosystems of the North Atlantic.
The Multi-Use in European Seas (MUSES) project is exploring the opportunities for Multi-Use in European Seas across five EU sea basins (Baltic Sea, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Eastern Atlantic).
GENIALG is the first industry-driven project bringing together pioneering companies in large-scale integrated European biorefineries and experts in seaweed cultivation, genetics and metabolomics to boost the seaweed industry.
The ATLAS project is striving to improve our understanding of complex deep-sea ecosystems and their associated species, including those that are new to science. Researchers are looking to predict future changes to these ecosystems and species together with their vulnerabilities in the face of climate change.


Finalised their vision and roadmap for an international science plan on research directions, priorities, synergies, and complementarities in the North Atlantic.
Survey conducted by EA2OHS relating to Ecosystem Approaches to Management.
A host of tools exist to support trade-off analysis in Ecosystem Based Management (EBM)
Working Group on the Ecosystem Approach to Ocean Health and Stressors: Mandates for Ecosystem-based Ocean Governance across Canada.
The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Working Group on the Ecosystem Approach to Ocean Health and Stressors (EA2OHS) Engagement Strategy
Final report from the Ocean Health and Stressors Reykjavik workshop.