Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Second meeting between Commissioner Vella and CEOs of European marine institutes

Event date:
08/07/2016 - 00:00
Table of Contents
    the first meeting concluded that the effectiveness of marine observation and mapping could improve with better coordination of individual activities. This meeting is a follow up to that earlier meeting


    ODAS Italia 1



    Following an earlier meeting on 2 March 2016,  Commissioner Vella met representatives of the EU's leading marine research establishments to discuss how to consolidate Europe's ocean observing and seabed mapping activities into a sustainable and efficient process.

    There was universal agreement that the time is right for action. Labour  is expensive but technology is advancing so we can measure more parameters more cheaply than ever. Investment in innovation could receive European Structural and Investment Funding through Smart Specialisation strategies. United States, China; United Nations; Small Island Developing States are all on board.  But we need:

    (1)  more detail on why this is necessary including.

    • what  should be covered by European Ocean Observing System (satellites, fisheries?)
    • how much is being spent at present
    • societal, economic and environmental benefits.
    • ow investment would be derisked
    • a list of gaps, what would improve if gaps were filled and what we could not do if present programmes stopped (This has been done for meteorology)
    • There are a number of past studies or projects providing some of this information but there is a need to put them into a coherent narrative. DG-MARE is working on this.

    (2)  a definition of priorities. The following were suggested as needing to be considered:

    • parameters for Marine Strategy Framework Directive
    • sustainable Development Goals
    • seabed mapping in Atlantic. This would be cheaper than completing continental shelves and provide incentive for countries to map their own waters.
    • the Arctic

    (3) engagement with industry; both to define their needs and to deliver their data. We should:

    • reassure them that they will not be legally liable for products delivered
    • consider a process similar to the ocean energy forum to deliver a roadmap
    • think about awarding a "blue label" to recognise contribution

    (4)International Collaboration; we cannot do it alone and need to consider that:

    • Asian countries are no longer lagging Europe in oceanography. They should not be underestimated.
    • developing countries; particularly Africa, still need some support
    • Europe has interests in Caribbean and Indian Ocean

    (5)broader Skills to cope with new challenges; for instance:

    • postgraduate students need an interdisciplinary approach - biology and physics for example

    (6)The EU can help by:

    • grouping all research infrastructures recognised by European Research Industry Forum into consolidated European Marine Research Infrastructure structure:
    • integrating fisheries with rest or oceanographic research, Data Collection Framework with Marine Strategy Framework Directive
    • preparing a roadmap for a European Ocean Observing System 

    Commissioner Vella thanked the participants for their informed opinions and suggestions. He and his services would certainly follow them up. The objective would be to announce an action plan in the Our Oceans event. (September 2017, Malta). In the meantime communication and discussion on the issue must continue.




    Welcome and presentation of InnovOcean site from Jan Mees


    Tour de Table (names and affiliation)


    Introduction from Commissioner


    Discussion on ocean observation and mapping


    • benefits for the economy, environment and society


    • engagement of  industry


    • role of EU


    • possible sources of funding


    Handover of suggestions for topics in IPCC special report on oceans and cryosphere


    closing remarks


    end of meeting

    summary of previous meeting




    Eduardo Balguerías Guerra, Director, Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO)

    Henk Brinkhuis , Director of NIOZ, Royal NL Institute for Sea Research, Netherlands

    Alessandro Crise, Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Italy

    François Jacq, President - Directeur General of IFREMER, France

    Peter Heffernan , Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Galway, Ireland

    Mark James, Operations Director, MASTS (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland), UK

    Niall McDonough, Executive Secretary, European Marine Board

    Jan Mees, Director of Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), Belgium

    Janusz Pempkowiak, Director, Institute of Oceanology (IO PAN), Poland

    Peter Pissierssens  Head, UNESCO/IOC Project Office for IODE

    Sissel Rogne, Managing Director, Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Norway

    Karen Wiltshire, Deputy Director, Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research (AWI), Germany [and Chair of POGO - Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans]