Maritime forum

Sixteenth meeting of Marine Observation and Data Expert Group (MODEG)

Event date:
19/06/2012 - 14:30

This was the sixteenth meeting of the Marine Observation and Data Expert Group. It was attended by:

Sükrü Besiktepe, Frédérique Blanc, Jean-François Bourillet, Francesco Chiocci,Trine Chrisiansen,  Simon Claus, Franciscus Colijn, Hans Dahlin, Nic Flemming, Juliusz Gajewski, Neil Holdsworth, , Joni Kaitaranta,  Abigail McQatters Gollop Cherith Moses, Glenn Nolan, Lesley Rickards, Dick Schaap, Angela Schäfer, Iain Shepherd, Stefania Sparnocchia, Terje Thorsnes,

MAREANO – seabed mapping in Norway

pdf (5MB) powerpoint (75MB)

Norway's sea area is 10 time its land area. A multidisciplinary team with an annual budget of about €11 million has been mapping this area since 2000 and providing knowledge for ocean plans first in the Barents Sea, then the Norwegian Sea. The North Sea will be next. About 40% of the funding goes on bathymetry, 15% on geology and 55% on biology but the multidisciplinary team ensures that the various components join up. Up to now the video imagery has been analysed by eye although there are some hopes that hyperspectral cameras might deliver footage that could be classified automatically.

MAGIC – Italian geohazards


The MAGIC project brings together three research institutes and seven deliver a mapping of underwater geohazards at a scale of 1:50,000. The main tool for the investigation is multibeam echosounding and about 50% of the budget is for ship time. There is no ground trothing. The cost increases considerably for shallower water as the swath width is narrower. The risk of tsunamis following landslides also depends on water depth: the shallower the water the higher the tsunami wave. Analyis includes the reconstruction of past tsunamis. The project does not specifically identify risks but the mapping does provide the raw information that allows those operating or monitoring infrastructure – for instance hot spots for potential tsunami-inducing landslides or close-to-shore erosion risks that threaten coastal infrastructure – to understand vulnerabilities better. The massive amount of data being made available will stimulate the research community towards innovation.

Data needs for Marine Strategy Framework Directive

European Environment Agency presentation

Continuous Plankton Recorder presentation

The Environment Agency are heavily engaged in organising reporting for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive helped by various working groups including DIKE (Data, Information and Knowledge Exchange) for data providers and GES (Good Environmental Status) for indicators. The thematic assembly groups in both the first and second phase of EMODnet have been specifically designed to deliver parameters useful for the Marine Framework Strategy Directive. However, the Environment Agency were slightly sceptical of efforts to assemble all available data rather than to develop data flows for a specific need. They believe that EMODnet is finding it hard to tailor products to specific needs. The EUSeaMap physical habitat maps are an exception to this. Furthermore more work needs to be done to facilitate the extraction of large datasets.

Projects will shortly begin to develop indicators for marine noise and marine litter. It is particularly difficult to obtain data on noise. The navies hold many data but are unwilling to part with them. It is hard to tell whether this is because they do not want to divulge the location and capabilities of their listening posts or because they are concerned that whale-friendly measures might cause them to reduce their use of sonar. Marine litter is largely dealt with by municipalities and again it can be hard to obtain an overall picture.

MODEG agreed with the Agency that it will be hard to meet expectations and that we have a long way to go. Once the new Phase 2 EMODnet contracts start in 2013, back-to-back meetings with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive working groups can begin.

Abigail McQuatters-Gollop, from the Continuous Plankton Survey chairs the Pelagic Habitats subgroup for the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She showed that, even where are good data, developing UK indicators for good environmental status is not an easy task.

She illustrated this using the 80 years of data from the Survey. Clearly there had been shifts in regime. Plankton abundance had changed and the relative distribution of species in the Atlantic had changed. However this is largely due to changes in water temperature. The changes in temperature may in turn, at least in part, have been due to human-induced climate change but no marine management measure is going to change ocean temperature. Therefore the UK's preliminary conclusion is that the plankton community is not significantly influenced by anthropogenic drivers.

She highlighted some other issues.

  1. Comparing changes in coastal parameters with those in the open sea is one way of determining if observed  concentrations or abundance are anthropogenically induced.
  2. Biodiversity. What is a "good" distribution of species. Jellyfish are generally considered to be a sign of ecosystem degradation but turtle populations correlate remarkably well with high concentrations of jellyfish

Public Consultation on "marine knowledge 2020"

At the end of August a public consultation will be launched for "marine knowledge 2020". It will include an interim evaluation of EMODnet and will open issues for discussion such as the are the future role of the private sector and the best way to convert EMODnet  from a series of projects into an efficient sustainable process.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be in September or October 2012. MODEG members will shortly be asked for their availability.



19 June 2012


Welcome,  introduction and agreement of the agenda



MAREANO seabed mapping

Thorsne Terje


MAGIC Marine Geohazards along the Italian coasts

Francesco Chiocci



16.15 Green Paper and funding for EMODnet-2014-2020 DG_MARE
17.00 close  

20 June 2012


Data needs of marine Strategy Framework Directive

European Environment Agency




setting targets and monitoring Good Environmental status

Abigail McQuatters-Gollop


Closing remarks – next meeting