Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Minutes of the 20th Marine Observation and Data Expert Group Meeting

Published on: Wed, 30/10/2013 - 16:00
Table of Contents

    Dates: 21-22 October 2013

    Location: Brussels, Borschette Building, Rue Froissart 36, Brussels

    Minutes prepared by the EMODnet Secretariat

    Go to Meeting Agenda and Presentations

    Meeting Participants


















    EMODnet Secretariat












    MODEG (Chairman)





    De Boer






















    EMODnet Secretariat





























    21 October 2013 - Day 1

    Session 1: EMODnet Secretariat work programme

    The Secretariat presented an overview of the newly-established Secretariat for EMODnet, based at the InnovOcean site in Oostende (Belgium). The Secretariat will provide high-level coordination and technical skills to support (i) the monitoring of EMODnet projects; (ii) the dissemination of their results, and (iii) the analysis of user feedback and statistics. The EMODnet Secretariat will also oversee the development of the EMODnet central portal as a common gateway to provide access to all seven thematic portals and as a vehicle for additional data services. The overarching aim is to develop a more coherent, effective, efficient and fit for purpose EMODnet.

    A paper on proposed progress indicators was circulated for comments (for discussion see Day 2).

    Questions and comments:

    The importance of a clear external communication strategy with a focus on outreach and dissemination of EMODnet outputs (conference presentations, industry events, beyond academic research sector, use of social media) was recommended as a key task for the Secretariat. Member States should be mobilised to support the promotional campaign by organising events and disseminating the outputs at national and local levels.  

    The Secretariat acknowledged the importance of external communication as well as internal communication, which will be key to ensure the efficient exchange of information, improve collaboration and ensure consistency across EMODnet. In terms of external activities, the Secretariat is tasked to develop a number of concrete products (brochure, videos, …) and demonstrate EMODnet at least at 20 events across Europe. The Secretariat is developing a communication strategy to ensure coordinated outreach activities, which could be presented at the next MODEG meeting for information.

    Regarding the objectives of the Sea Basin Checkpoint projects, DG MARE outlined that it currently  consists of a Mediterranean and North Sea project with set tasks to evaluate the fitness for purpose of the EMODNet thematic portals and their current marine data provision as well as to identify gaps in data availability in their respective regions. DG MARE proposed to invite presentations by the Sea Basin Checkpoints at one of the upcoming MODEG meeting(s).

    Session 2: EMODnet Portal

    The Flemish Marine Institute (VLIZ) presented an update on the status of the Entry Portal that will act as a gateway to EMODnet activities and provide access to data products from the thematic portals. Upon request from the Secretariat, VLIZ has already activated an EMODnet landing page that provides introductory information and links to the thematic portals. The next step entails development of a fully functional Entry Portal with additional services and case studies that will be developed under the guidance of a Steering Committee (SC). The SC will consist of representatives (coordinators) of each of the thematic lots and will meet on 16th- 17th December to define the 2014 work plan and indicative timing for the launch of the Entry Portal services.

    Questions and comments:

    Most of the discussion focused on the nature of the data product services to be provided through the Entry Portal (e.g. Can long terms data trends for a species be calculated?) and on the selection of the case studies. The Entry Portal focus is on demonstrating the ability to integrate different thematic data layers; more specific thematic data functionality will be provided at the level of the individual thematic portals. VLIZ clarified that the case studies presented at the meeting were examples that are not finalised; a selection of case studies will be defined and implemented as part of the Steering Committee work plan. This might be inspired by the activities as to be undertaken in the Checkpoint Study projects. New proposals for use cases may be submitted for consideration to the Steering Committee by MODEG or any other stakeholder.

    Activation of the temporary landing page was welcomed by MODEG. Standardisation of domain names of the thematic portals was suggested as a next step.

    Session 3: The Baltic Sea Bathymetry Database

    The Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) presented the Baltic Sea Bathymetry
    Database (BSBD). The BSBD is an effort to compile and distribute, by map and webservices, a digital bathymetry (DTM) of the Baltic Sea (not for navigational use) based on national data provided by the Hydrographic Offices in the region. The preference is to receive only measured data points in a resolution of  at least 2-5 times the density of the produced DTM. Ready DTM:s will only be used when no other data can be obtained.

    It has received extensive media coverage in the region and positive user feedback.

    Questions and comments:

    Questions focused on the relationship with EMODnet and in particular the ongoing EMODNet Bathymetry project as well as on sources of information used in developing the BSBD product. SMA clarified that only data from Hydrographic Offices is used as the services are provided by the BSHC (regional IHO commission). A higher resolution bathymetry layer is proposed for development at a later stage (current version 500m grid), in addition to incorporate areas that currently have not delivered data (e.g. Russia, Poland). With reference to EMODnet they are open to the idea of collaboration and synergy; opportunities will be discussed as part of an ongoing dialogue with the thematic portals.

    Session 4: Progress on Copernicus (space programme and marine service)

    DG Enterprise presented the European Earth Observation Programme (Copernicus) services, (previously known as GMES - Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), with a focus on the marine monitoring service. Copernicus is currently in transition from pilot (R&D project) to operational phase, which will be implemented for the different Copernicus services from 2014 onwards.

    In terms of dedicated satellite missions, Sentinel 1 (SAR imaging) and Sentinel 3 (Ocean and global land monitoring) cover ocean and global monitoring. MyOcean can be considered the precursor of the Copernicus Marine Service, providing free access to worldwide oceanographic core products to support a range of applications in the public, private and scientific domains, at a pre-operational level.  MyOcean2 began in April 2012 with the aim of transitioning MyOcean into a long-term operational service

    An open invitation was made to attend the GMES-PURE project (Partnership for User Requirements Evaluation) workshop (29-30/10/2013, Brussels), which will look at the long-term future of Copernicus and consult the users of the services on their needs (

    Questions and comments:

    Questions were raised on the time ‘gap’ between pilot and operational phase in the marine service and who will be responsible for leading the marine services in the operational phase. DG Enterprise indicated that the gap was due to regulatory procedures and this was being addressed, and no decision has yet been made on which competent body will be tasked to oversee the operational marine services.

    In terms of links to near real-time access data and links to EMODnet, DG MARE indicated that they will fund ARGO floats under the maritime and fisheries budget for two years and that there is currently important cooperation between Copernicus and EMODnet Physics (key partners include MyOcean, EuroGOOS and Seadatanet).

    Session 5: Fisheries reporting

    Framian presented an overview of an ongoing feasibility study on scientific data storage and transmission of fisheries data. The task is to outline the current operational data collection cycle from fisheries production level to final dissemination and provide suggestions/scenarios leading to the simplification or automation of data flow and the integration of ecological/biological data with economics (i.e. data which is currently stored in separate databases and managed by separate bodies such as ICES and JRC). The end date of this study is Feb/March 2014.

    Questions and comments:

    Discussion focused on the current loss of the level of detail due to aggregation of the data and whether this was due to confidentiality issues, and which body (JRC or ICES) will be the overarching operator. Framian pointed out that the confidentiality issue is partly artificial: the data already exists but the volume and complexity of reporting are the main causes. Framian highlighted that the choice of database model was the main focus of the study, not who should host and manage it. According to DG MARE the raw fisheries data is often not the problem, but governments need to report to various authorities in too many different formats.

    Session 6: Progress on Marine Strategy Framework (MSFD) directive reporting

    The European Environment Agency (EEA) provided an update on MSFD reporting. The approach for the identification of indicators (evidence based on data) has been accepted by the Member States. In terms of reporting, there is currently a process of streamlining the reporting terminology (e.g. eutrophication) across all the directives. In addition, guidelines are being developed for standardisation of monitoring activities by the Regional Conventions. The INSPIRE Monitoring and Reporting meeting (15/10/2013, Copenhagen) highlighted the need for an INSPIRE compliant pilot project in the marine domain.

    In terms of usefulness of EMODnet, Italy has indicated they will develop some of their MSFD reporting using the EMODnet chemistry portal; the exact nature of this process is to be further defined.

    Relevant documents are available on the CIRCABC portal (requires registration/login procedure and copy-pasting link into the navigation bar once logged-in):

    Questions and comments:

    There was general consensus about the need to ensure open communication and
    exchange of information to maintain awareness of MSFD activities and how it
    relates to EMODnet. MARIS highlighted the ongoing dialogue between EMODNet Chemistry and WG DIKE together with DG ENV and EEA. VLIZ highlighted that one of the proposed case studies will focus on date for MSFD requirements.

    Session 7: Coastal Observatory for sea defence and nature

    Deltares presented the upcoming JERICO summer school ‘From Data to Decisions’ for early career scientists, which will take place at the end of June 2014 (final dates to be confirmed) at the Sand engine nourishment and observatory near Scheveningen harbour in the Netherlands. The proposal includes a one-day focus on the ‘EU portal landscape’ with several sessions. Each session will have a theoretical and practical component, and one session will be dedicated to EMODnet.

    Questions and comments:

    This initiative was welcomed and was of interest to the Secretariat and several members of MODEG. Suggestions were made with regard to extending the target groups of the JERICO summer school to researchers who work on the interface between research and policy (e.g. Marine Spatial Planning), and the inclusion of Pangaea ( into the sessions.

    Message from Chairman

    The current Chairman is stepping down from his post, with the next MODEG meeting being his last.  Nominations can be made by Members of the MODEG group for both internal or external candidates.


    22 October 2013) - Day 2

    Two new Members of MODEG were presented:  Dr. Christoph Waldmann (University of Bremen) is a physicist working on ocean observation projects. He has experience with the standardisation of research processes from collection to storage and has co-ordinated several initiatives between USA and Europe on data standards (not only marine). He has close links to Seadatanet.

    Dr. Erik Buch is the former Head of the Centre for Ocean and Ice of the Danish Meteorological Institute, an operational oceanographic unit, which was created in 1998. He has been involved in GMES/MyOcean and has coordinated activities (forecasting) for the Baltic region. He is currently EuroGOOS vice-Chairman.

    Session 1: iMarine

    CNR-ISTI presented iMarine ( which was developed as an EU FP7 Capacity e-infrastructure project (13 months duration) with a focus on developing a data infrastructure for socioeconomic/conservation of marine resources research projects. 

    The main challenges for iMarine relate to the fact that marine environmental data are heterogonous, multidisciplinary and require aggregation at different temporal and spatial scales. The advantages of developing a common infrastructure include harmonisation, quality of service and economy of scale.

    The core data infrastructure model was outlined, highlighting the services (full cycle from collection to collaboration) that can be customised for additional services (API/Virtual/web-based) through deployment of application bundles (gCUBES). The technology is open source and can handle a multitude of different data types and applications (web mapping, apps), and is supported by robust computational power provided as a core platform.

    Questions and comments:

    Regarding existing links between iMarine and EMODnet, CNR-ISTI highlighted that there are currently no direct links. CNR was glad to accept the invitation to the MODEG meeting since it recognizes a complementarity between the two initiatives. VLIZ pointed to indirect links as some of the databases that are used by iMarine (e.g. OBIS and WoRMS data) also contribute to the biodiversity portal. iMarine also uses MyOcean data.

    Discussions followed on how to implement the iMarine model as part of a time-limited project and the selection of iMarine case studies. CNR-ISTI clarified that sample projects were based on iMarine Board requests, and that the data infrastructure is open source for anyone to customise or to implement. No decision has yet been made on what happens to iMarine at the end of the project in April 2014 (e.g. continue as a public partnership or company) except that current projects will continue to be supported.

    Session 2: SPLASHCOS (Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology and Landscapes of the Continental Shelf)

    A presentation of the SPLASHCOS COST-Action and SUBLAND Working Group provided insight in ongoing effort to support research on submerged landscapes and underwater cultural heritage.

    SPLASHCOS ( is a four-year research network (2009 to 2013) funded by the COST program (Cooperation in Science and Technology) bringing together archaeologists, marine geoscientists, heritage agencies, and commercial and industrial organisations interested in researching, managing and preserving the archives of archaeological and palaeoclimatic information locked up on the drowned prehistoric landscapes of the European continental shelf.

    The presentation highlighted the difficulties to predict or model site locations, as they have been found under a wide range of environmental conditions (e.g. in sheltered coastal bays in Scandinavia up to rough Atlantic waters of Portugal). Permanently submerged sites were mapped and details recorded in a specialised database to ensure standardisation of the information. Information from EMODnet (hydrography/bathymetry) was utilised during identification of sites. The project highlights the diverse use of EMODnet and makes the case for higher resolution seabed mapping.

    The next phase involves the production of a position paper for policy advisors/makers by a European Marine Board working group on Climate Change, Submerged Landscapes and the Underwater Cultural Heritage (WG SUBLAND) in a one-year effort to recommend ways to streamline what is currently a very interdisciplinary science (100+ papers a year) with research conducted in a rather random and chaotic manner.

    Questions and comments:

    Question were raised with regard to the location of sites in relation to historical events such as the fluctuation of the level of the Black Sea, which appears asynchronous with the rest of the world. Suggestions were made about developing the experiences of SPLASHCOS community as a use case or example of (not so obvious) research making use of EMODnet data.

    Session 3: MODEG indicators to monitor EMODnet

    A set of indicators to monitor the progress of the EMODnet portals were discussed based on proposals from the Secretariat presented on Day 1 of the meeting.

    The proposed indicators were supported by MODEG in principle, provided they were further refined and adapted to match the needs and possibilities of the different thematic portals. The following recommendations were made:

    • In terms of amounts of data collected/available, each thematic portal should propose realistic and meaningful units of measurement for different data made available. 
    • Include additional indicator to track the outputs (e.g. research papers) making use of EMODnet services. Though currently there is no obligation to accredit the EMODnet service.
    • Consider monitoring of IP addresses from portal visitors to collect user information.
    • Standardise user forms and user feedback processes on thematic portals.
    • There should be a balance between provisions to track user activities/statistics and ease of access.

    There was a remark related to the perceived lack of focus on user feedback. The Secretariat clarified that the suggested indicators are designed to measure progress and form part of a larger assessment, which will also include user evaluation in complementary but separate process.

    Session 4a: EMODnet impact assessment

    DG MARE presented an overview of the status of EMODnet. Phase 1 is now complete with a set of prototype portals. In Phase 2,  112 organisations are participating in the thematic assembly groups (some participate in more than one project). In addition, two ‘new’ projects are about to start (Sea Basin Checkpoints for the North Sea and Mediterranean), and an EMODnet Secretariat has been established. Phase 2 will focus on extending the coverage of low resolution maps, while the proposed Phase 3 is to focus on higher resolution mapping products.

    Session 4b: Marine Knowledge work programme 2014

    DG MARE presented a summary of the Marine Knowledge 2020 Work Programme 2014, including the outline of an impact assessment for Marine Knowledge 2020 currently under preparation (provided to MODEG for reference on the first day of meeting) following the EC Consultation on "Marine Knowledge 2020: from seabed mapping to ocean forecasting". The consultation was intended to understand stakeholders' opinions on options for future governance of the EU's Marine Knowledge 2020 initiative and on the possible involvement of the private sector.

    The feedback from different stakeholders revealed wide support for the basic principles of the Knowledge 2020 Green Paper, confirming the soundness of the approach taken by DG MARE. The consultation also identified new needs (e.g. private sector involvement, advice to Member States, EU convergence of activity). Some needs will be supported by complementary instruments (e.g. development of novel sensors for ocean observation by EC’s research programme Horizon 2020).

    Questions and comments:

    The main discussion focused on the figures associated with cost that can be saved by implementing Knowledge 2020 strategy. DG MARE highlighted that the savings do not refer to EMODnet, they are reported on an annual basis and are based on an ‘optimum’ monitoring system. Environmental and Human Health benefits are much more difficult to quantify and hence do not have a figure attributed to them. It was recommended that reference should be made to the difficulties in quantifying ecosystem services and the ongoing efforts to develop sound methods to valuate marine ecosystems (e.g. European Marine Board Working Group on Valuing Marine Ecosystems – WG VALMARE). 

    Comments were made with regard to expanding the stakeholder involvement beyond public authorities and better co-ordination between EU bodies (e.g. there are currently three projects on bathymetry in the Baltic Sea). DG MARE acknowledged that limited interaction has so far been made with industry and this will be a focus area in the future, through proposed voluntary involvement. In terms of NGO participation, the example was given of WWF who already work extensively on fisheries. DG MARE also outlined that there is convergence of activity and knowledge sharing between EU bodies (reflected in the attendees of MODEG meetings).

    End of Meeting