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EMODnet and its fundamental role in shaping the future of ocean observing in Europe

From 21 to 23 November 2018, more than 300 participants gathered in Brussels to discuss the future of ocean observing, monitoring and data collection efforts in Europe. The EMODnet Secretariat, together with the European Marine Board and EuroGOOS, played a key role in the organisation of this conference, which was supported by the European Commission DG MARE.

Ocean observation is vital for our society and this conference aimed to find solutions to overcome the current fragmentation and lack of sustainability of ongoing data collection programmes and activities. During three days, more than 45 speakers and panelists from the EU and abroad discussed the current and future ocean observing capability, the needs, gaps & priorities, the economic & societal benefits of ocean observing and alignment of different communities & stakeholders. Participants from a broad range of communities, including fisheries, energy and transport, also had their say in breakout sessions and poster pitch presentations.

By providing easy and free access to harmonised marine data, metadata and data products, EMODnet plays a fundamental role in unlocking and demonstrating the societal value of European ocean observations. Steve Gibson, director at JNCC, presented the EMODnet Seabed habitats map (EUSeaMap) as an example of what can be achieved by collaborating across organisations, countries and disciplines as diverse as biology, geology, hydrography and physical oceanography to create a complex pan-European data product.

The coordinator of the EMODnet Baltic Checkpoint, Jun She, highlighted how EMODnet facilitates the use of marine observations. Mr She exposed the role of the EMODnet checkpoints in showing the value of observations as well as identifying data gaps and data inadequacy. The EMODnet community was largely represented in the audience and several participants also presented a poster on EMODnet activities related to sharing of ocean observations. 

In his closing remarks, Mr Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, stated that: “Sound ocean data is indispensable if we want to tackle major global issues such as climate change, marine litter, illegal fishing or marine protection. It is also a bare necessity if we want to develop the blue economy and create sustainable economic growth in the EU”. A Call to action launched on the final day of the conference, exposes this inherent value of ocean observing and monitoring for society. It calls on European countries and the EU decision makers to assess what is currently being done under their responsibility and to prioritise strategic planning and coordination efforts.

All presentations, the Call to Action and photos of the event are available at www.EOOSConference2018.eu A Conference report will be available in January 2019.

Read the press releaseEurope steps up efforts to coordinate ocean observing and monitoring for society

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