Project S-3 EUROHAB to monitor Harmful Algal Blooms from space

Tuesday 09 May 2017

Lead Partner: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Total Project Budget: 3.7 million euros
European Regional Development Fund contribution: 2.6 million euros
Number of Partners: 9 (5 French, 4 English)
Project Duration: 4 years

Our latest project, led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory, will use the latest satellite technology to improve the way water quality and harmful algal blooms (HABS) are monitored in the English Channel.

Harmful Algal Blooms are caused by excessive growth of marine algae which release harmful toxins into the water that can kill fish, shellfish and even humans when they consume contaminated fish. As a result they can have an extremely damaging effect on the fishing and tourism industries. In the EU the annual cost of HABs to these industries is estimated to be in excess of 918 million euros.

The project, known as S-3 EUROHAB, will use data from the recently launched European satellite, Copernicus Sentinel 3, to track the growth and spread of harmful algal blooms in the Channel. This data will then be used to create a web based alert system, the first of its kind in Europe, to alert marine managers and fishing industries of the growth of potentially damaging algal blooms. The alert system will result in much faster response times that will help stop the spread of HABS, reducing the millions of pounds lost each year as a result of HABs in both France and the UK. Data will also be gathered to help better understand why, how and when HABS occur.

Current methods of tracking HABs are inefficient and expensive, costing 2 million euros annually to monitor just 6% of the Channel area. S3 - EUROHAB’s methods will not only cost significantly less, just 42,000 euros annually, but will also cover the whole Channel area.

Dr Gavin Tilstone Principal Investigator of the project from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, commented: ‘Current monitoring methods for harmful algal blooms could be improved using satellite ocean colour data, especially with the latest technological advancements and recent launch of the European Copernicus Satellites. The project will use this satellite data to create a web based HAB and water quality alert system that will be designed with marine managers and industry end users to enhance the marine monitoring of HAB’s in the Channel region.’