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CNRS in EU Programs


Risk Monitoring, Modelling and Mitigation of Benthic Harmful Algal Blooms along Mediterranean coasts.

The General Objective: The to contribute to the development of cost-effective management tools of the risks associated to the proliferation of toxic benthic dinoflagellates in a cross border perspective along Mediterranean coasts.


The Specific Objective: To develop a common pan-Mediterranean strategy to monitor Ostreopsis spp. based on increased awareness and improved early detection and risk management strategies.


Main Expected Results: A larger awareness of the risks associated to the Ostreopsis blooms and appropriate diffusion of caution measures set up; production of common monitoring protocols; development of new technologies for species-specific identification and counting; build-up of prediction models based on easily measurable environmental variables for providing forecasts in order to prevent and reduce risk factors for the environment, human health and economic activities.

Target groups envisaged by the present project are environmental local agencies, municipalities, research institutions, while all the final beneficiaries are represented by people using the coastal environment for both recreational and economic purposes: beaches and rocky shore visiting, swimming, sailing, fishery, aquaculture, beach concession holders, hotel keepers, municipalities, local touristic agencies and tourist information offices.


The M3-HABs Project, financed by the EU in the framework of the ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme, is coordinated by the Italian institution CoNISMa (Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare) ENEA and involves eight partners from Italy, France, Lebanon, Tunisia. The project lasts 24 months and has been granted 1.998.060 €.


Technical and scientific activities are divided into work-packages (WP) coordinated by different partners. Within WP 4, participating partners coordinated by CNR are cooperating towards the development of an automated tool for Ostreopsis ovata identification and counting. WP5 aims to explore correlations between environmental drivers and occurrence and magnitude of Ostreopsis blooms. Links between cell abundances and physical-chemical variables are explored for each Partners’ area through multiple regression models. A pilot area over the coastline of Genoa (Italy) was set in order to deliver an Ostreopsis modelling tool on basis of the long data set available and because of the regular occurrence of blooms in the last years. 


The main goal of the WP6 is to standardise strategies and processes for sampling, preserving and counting Ostreopsis cells in order to produce an international monitoring protocol. Specific studies and tests are performed and the acquired experience is shared between partners during inter-calibration sessions. For sampling strategy optimization, different techniques are compared during field sampling, and the spatial variability of benthic Ostreopsis is being characterised. Both benthic and planktonic Ostreopsis abundances are monitored, in particular according to their daily variations. 


Ostreopsis blooms represent a relevant risk not only for the environment but also for people using the coast both for recreational and economic purposes. The public opinion should be made aware about the risks associated with potentially toxic micro-algal blooms, with a proper communication strategy, aiming to giving correct information while avoiding scaremongering. The goal of this action is the redaction of a complete manual containing practical information about algal blooms, guidelines for planning and organizing a monitoring program, instructions for correct risk management, communication strategies and concrete advice will be drafted.


The participation of different parties involved is essential for the establishment of a risk management plan Ostreopsis bloom fully concrete and operative. This sharing process is taking place through the Open Group tool that involves different potential stakeholders: I) regional and/or national environmental protection agencies, II) coastal municipalities, III) marine protected areas, IV) and end users of the coast like diving centres, fishermen associations, offshore fish farms, touristic and bathing establishments, local newspapers. 

Summer School on “Taxonomy, Phylogeny and Ecology of the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis”.

In the framework of the WP6, the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research /National Centre for Marine Sciences organised a Summer School in Batroun on June 2 to 4, 2014 on “Taxonomy, Phylogeny and Ecology of the toxic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis”. 

Main goal of the Summer School, which brought together 20 trainees (doctoral, post-doctoral fellowship and PhD students) from Italy, France, Tunisia, Germany Sweden, Montenegro and Lebanon and 7 lecturers from Italy, France and Lebanon, was to exchange experience between partners and to standardise strategies and processes for sampling, preserving and counting Ostreopsis cells. This is intended to produce an international monitoring protocol and to prepare Project Partners and Associates as well as relevant stakeholders to be ready to face the first sampling campaign that will take place in the summer months, when Ostreopsis blooms occur. Partners, Associates and relevant stakeholders from the different Mediterranean Countries were involved in the training activities (as teachers and trainers), in order to spread the know-how achieved through the project and to train students or early-career scientists to Ostreopsis sampling and monitoring strategies.
The summer school program consisted of:


  •  A series of lectures on sampling techniques and strategies.
  • Taxonomy of Dinoflagellate with special attention to Ostreopsis.
  • Ecology of Ostreopsis: biotic and abiotic factors affecting bloom dynamics.
  • Phylogeny of Ostreopsis spp. by molecular studies.
  • Field and lab works. 

A field trip was also organized to the northern Lebanese coast to show the different sites and features of the Lebanese coast. The dissemination of this important event has been assured by a short movie that was realized during the whole implementation of the summer school. In the closing session, participants who accomplished the training were awarded with a certificate of attendance. 

At the occasion of the “First annual meeting of M3-HABs, 2-3 December 2014, Nice, France”, Dr Marie Abboud- Abi-Saab as the Lebanese coordinator of the project presented the results achieved during summer months and Toufic Msayleb, as the coordinator of WP communication, the progress on the implementation of Web site of the project.  An inter-calibration session was held aiming for the optimization of sampling, treatment and counting, followed by an open round table on the Perspectives of monitoring Ostreopsis blooms.

Preliminary results of weekly and monthly sampling along the Lebanese coast showed the presence of Ostreopsis along the study period with  a bloom density in July or August  according to the site  and another one in November in the site situated in the Lebanese southern coast. Sampling will continue for the next summer. Molecular studies will be done to define the species present in Lebanese coastal waters.

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