Information on seabed habitats is essential both for the development of new economic activities and for assessing the impact of these activities on the marine environment. Thanks to the work of EMODnet’s Seabed Habitats team, and building on previous initiatives, there now exists, for the first time a broad-scale seabed habitat map for Europe. This collaborative effort has involved considerable work to harmonise mapping procedures - based on the EUNIS classification - and to foster a common understanding among seabed mappers in Europe, resulting in a comprehensive, free and ready-to-use map with confidence layers that reflect the level of confidence users can expect in the map. The final technical report detailing the methodology and collaborative efforts to create EMODnet’s broad scale seabed habitat map, as well as how it has and can be used, for example to support MSP, is now available.
This broad-scale predictive habitat map of all European seas is currently available to end users at 250m resolution. The habitats are classified according to the EUNIS (Version 2007-11) habitats classification, and have also been updated to align with new MSFD ‘“Benthic Broad Habitat Types”(as defined in the Commission Decision 17 May 2017). The habitats in the MSFD Benthic Broad Habitat Types map are consistent between basins, whilst the EUNIS map is region-specific and more detailed than the MSFD broad habitat types map, owing to the specific conditions relevant to each region.