Commissioner Karmenu Vella visits EMODnet Secretariat Office in Oostende
On Friday 8 of July, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, visited the EMODnet Secretariat Office at the InnovOcean site in Oostende (Belgium). He attended a formal signing ceremony with the Secretary General of the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation of the Flemish Government to mark the agreement with Flanders to support the further development of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) – a core component of the European Commission’s Marine Knowledge 2020 Initiative which aims to unlock the economic potential of Europe’s wealth of marine observations and data.
The Commissioner’s visit reflects the growing understanding that unrestricted access to high quality marine data is crucial to support a growing European ‘blue economy’ whilst simultaneously protecting and preserving our marine resources and that EMODnet is instrumental in achieving this. Previously much of the marine data collected in Europe was largely unavailable, inaccessible or not usable. EMODnet has changed the face of the European marine data landscape and is developing tools to connect national data and information resources to make them easily available for multiple users, for multiple purposes.
In Europe today, the ‘blue economy’ accounts for more than 4 million direct and 1.5 million indirect jobs, and these figures are expected to increase in the coming years. Access to data and products based on measurements and observations of the sea and oceans (e.g. detailed maps of the seabed or estimates of sands reserves and fish stocks) supports advances in scientific research, improves the efficiency of maritime industries, allows entrepreneurs to develop innovative products and services and enables effective management of these increasing human maritime activities in line with the implementation of EU’s Directives on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSPD) and the Marine Environment (MSFD).
EMODnet (www.emodnet.eu) was conceived in 2009 with the mandate to facilitate access to marine data and observations for businesses, governments, scientists and civil society so that they can convert this increased efficiency into the creation of more jobs, innovative products and services and a healthier marine environment. On February 19, 2014 following the second phase of EMODnet, the EMODnet Secretariat was formally established at the InnovOcean site in Ostend joining several other knowledge partners active in international marine research, science policy and data management such as VLIZ, the European Marine Board and the IODE Project Office of IOC / UNESCO.