Commission’s plans to overcome hurdles in blue economy include improvements in the quality and availability of marine data

Source: EC, DG MARE Marine Knowledge 2020 – 15 May 2014

In its recent Communication to the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the EU Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions titled “Innovation in the Blue Economy”, the EC sets out its strategy to address issues specific to the blue economy.

Special attention is put on marine knowledge and seabed mapping: EC says “innovation in the blue economy is held back by a lack of information about the sea, the seabed and the life it supports”, clearly pointing towards the need for improved and more readily available marine data. The Commission now sets out an objective of replacing the present fragmented, inaccessible and inhomogeneous repositories of marine data in the EU, by a sustainable process whereby data is easily accessible, interoperable and free of restrictions on its use.

Commission Staff Working Document, accompanying the Communication, details the roadmap as requested by Council and Parliament, with a timetable and milestones for implementing the actions on marine knowledge set out in the Communication, and achieving the 2020 objective imposed by the “Marine Knowledge 2020” Green Paper: “to prepare a seamless multi-resolution digital seabed map of European waters by 2020.”

Key improvements will include:

  • strengthening EMODnet: at present 114 organisations are participating in EMODnet, some in more than one thematic group. These groups were selected through open calls for tender and their contracts run until 2016. After this time it is intended that a further round of open tenders will take place, which will allow the continuation of EMODnet till 2020. EMODnet will continue to play a significant role in the evolution of the marine knowledge process by ensuring enhanced quality marine data which are more accessible, interoperable and useful to end-users. EuroGOOS participates in the physical component of EMODnet, through its ROOSs which organise the data and make them available in near real time.
  • setting up the Copernicus Marine Service: the main improvements will be further integration with EMODnet through common sign-in and user identification procedure and common repository of data from in-sea instruments; and extension of scope to provide historical records useful for environmental assessments and climate studies as well as near-real-time operational oceanography.
  • sustaining in-sea observations: the Commission will give priority to Euro-Argo ERIC. The Commission intends to provide a grant to the Euro-Argo consortium in 2015 from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund that will contribute towards the procurement and deployment of the approximately 100 floats that will be launched that year to replace those that are lost through wear and tear.
  • improving availability of fisheries data: both scientific and economic data whose collection is partially funded by the EU should be included in EMODnet in the future. The Commission services will examine the feasibility of doing this in the imminent revision of the Data Collection Framework.
  • improving access to data from environmental reporting: EMODnet can facilitate the process by building on INSPIRE and SEIS (Shared Environmental Information System) principles and putting data collected for regulatory purposes under the same umbrella as EMODnet with data collected for other purposes. Work has already started on alignment for data related to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, especially through the thematic groups for chemistry and biology. Close collaboration between EMODnet groups, the European Environment Agency, the Regional Sea Conventions and public authorities will continue.
  • facilitating the ingestion into EMODnet of non-confidential data collected by private companies, particularly data arising from licensing requirements and environmental impact assessments.

  • optimising observation networks: developing a mechanism for strategic coordination of observation systems, sampling programmes and surveying priorities for European sea-basins, through funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

The Working Document concludes: “The evolution of the marine knowledge process, and of EMODnet in particular, is therefore well-mapped until 2017. At this point the Commission services will review the state of play on implementation and, if necessary, consider what further steps need to be taken to ensure the continuing success of the process, and what further steps towards integrating fisheries and other data in EMODnet would need to be taken.”

Read more about Marine Knowledge 2020 here.

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