Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

About the Project

As the ability of societies to exploit marine resources expands and evolves, the pressures we exert on the marine environment are increasing and diversifying. These resources include traditional goods such as food and emerging benefits including energy. All of our interactions with the ocean, from leisure to transport activities, have individual effects but these pressures can also interact to cause further cumulative impacts.

These pressures are driving new and challenging changes in marine ecosystems that are compounded by environmental influences, including climate change. Key changes of concern are: species outbreaks, invasive alien species and changes in the productivity and distribution of commercially important species. Changes in the marine environment are, in-turn, impacting the goods and services that the oceans provide to society, therefore, affecting our use of the sea for leisure and commercial purposes and causing both cultural and economic impacts.

The VECTORS project (VECTORS of Change in European Marine Ecosystems and their Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts) has developed integrated, multidisciplinary research-based understanding of these changes, the mechanisms for them and the ecological and socio-economic impacts expected from them. It has also examined the many drivers of change in the marine environment and improved our understanding of the mechanisms by which these pressures cause changes in marine life and how human activity and behaviour propels them.

VECTORS has determined the impacts of changes in marine life on ecosystems, their structure and functioning, the services they provide, as well as the economic and societal implications for us all. The project has also used modelling techniques to project the future changes and consequences of human activities in the marine environment under different scenarios of adaptation and mitigation in order to understand what will happen to our seas in the future subject to how we manage them now and what will be the ramifications for human societies.

The understanding developed through VECTORS will contribute the information and knowledge required to inform the development and implementation of forthcoming strategies, policies regional seas conventions, management bodies and regulations such as:

  • The IMO International Convention for the control and management of ships’ ballast water and sediments
  • Alien Invasive Species Directive
  • The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Introducing Marine Ecosystem Services

This video provides an overview of the ecosystem services approach to understanding the marine environment and its application within the VECTORS project.