The overall goal of marine spatial management is to secure the sustainable use of marine resources without putting ecosystem health and seafloor integrity at risk.
Environmental status assessments of benthic habitats have traditionally been conducted on soft bottoms and the infauna communities that dominates these habitats. However, soft bottom and infauna communities represent only a limited part of the total diversity of seabed environments. Large and habitat forming organisms that are particularly vulnerable to physical disturbance of the seabed are in general associated with mixed or hard substrates. These large organisms have been poorly mapped with the traditional approach, as is also the case with mobile benthos (hyperfauna). Therefore there is a need to map the distribution and extent of all benthic habitats, and in particular of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems.