Welcome to COMmunicating advanced progress in coastal Eutrophication To Stake holders and the scientific community

 

 

 

 

 

What's COMETS?

COMETS (COMmunicating advanced progress in coastal Eutrophication To Stake holders and the scientific community) is a cluster of three Belgian Science Policy research projects [AMORE, CANOPY and SISCO] gathering Belgian scientists experts in coastal eutrophication.

COMETS addresses questions such as the filtering capacity of the Belgian coastal zone with respect to anthropogenic nutrients and carbon, the impact of nutrient reductions on the spreading of algal blooms in the Belgian coastal zone and adjacent areas and the impact of harmful algal blooms on marine resources.

The objectives of COMETS are to:

promote the visibility of Belgian activities related to marine coastal eutrophication towards the international scientific community and the various stake holders (public authorities, industry, fishermen, non-governmental organisation, the general public).

promote the visibility of Belgian activities related to marine coastal eutrophication towards the international scientific community and the various stake holders.

install a sustained dialogue based on mutual respect, between scientists and public authorities and policy makers for guiding decisions in the matter of eutrophication-related problems and protection of continental and marine waters.

What's Coastal Eutrophication?

Eutrophication is "an increase in the rate of organic matter production in an ecosystem" (Nixon, 1995). In coastal waters, this is caused by an increased delivery to the sea of anthropogenic nutrients due to industrial effluents, agricultural runoff and municipal sewage.

These nutrient loads, considerably enriched in nitrogen and phosphorus compared to silicon, induce a modification of the phytoplankton community structure with dominance of opportunistic non-siliceous species.

These latter occur as harmful algal blooms (HAB) either toxic or forming high biomass. Both impact negatively on the marine environment and its resources by causing structural changes in the natural foods webs (shifts from the linear to loop food chains, from crustacean to gelatinous trophic chains).

These blooms also constitute a serious hindrance to the socio-economic development of coastal areas through their negative impact on tourism, recreational activities and fisheries.

In the Belgian Coastal Zone (BCZ) severely enriched by direct and indirect nutrient inputs, mucilaginous colonies of Phaeocystis are taking benefit of the superfluous nitrates and dominate the ecosystem each spring. Being not grazed by higher trophic levels, these colonies are responsible of the large foam accumulations visible on the beaches in May.