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Minutes of the 3rd European Atlas of the Seas Steering Committee (SC) Meeting

Published on: Wed, 29/05/2019 - 09:30
Table of Contents
    The European Atlas of the Seas Steering Committee meets twice a year to review progress and set the priorities for future developments.

    Meeting location: DG MARE, Rue Joseph II 99, Brussels 

    Date and time: Wednesday 20/03/2019 from 10:00 until 12:00   


    List of Actions





    Action 1

    Explore opportunities and develop synergies with projects in the wider ocean literacy context to develop and promote a mobile app for the European Atlas of the Seas.





    EMODnet Secretariat – Bilbomatica - Nausicaà

    Action 2

    Organise a work meeting (preferably at Nausicaà) with the EMODnet Secretariat, Nausicaà and DG MARE to agree on a set of joint actions for implementation.

    June-July 2019

    EMODnet Secretariat – DG MARE - Nausicaà

    Action 3

    Facilitate/stimulate the development of third party apps based on EAS resources.

    August 2019

    EMODnet at the OSL II

    Action 4

    Get more involved in Ocean literacy programs and blue school networks such as the Escola Azul network in Portugal.

    September 2019

    DG MARE with support from EMODnet Secretariat when/if needed

    Action 5

    Prepare materials and equipment for an attractive promo-booth with a touch screen device to showcase the EAS.

    October 2019 (EU aquarium congress)

    EMODnet Secretariat – Bilbomatica - Nausicaà

    Action 6

    Prepare for the EAS participation at the EU Aquarium Congress to maximise the impact.

    October 2019

    EMODnet Secretariat – DG MARE - Nausicaà

    Action 7

    Provide Nausicaà the means to develop new educational material (MoU with DG MARE).

    Autumn 2019


    Action 8

    Discuss the technology behind the EAS with EC DG COMM to ensure stable service and performance of the EAS with regards of the anticipated communication actions.

    September 2019

    EMODnet Secretariat – DG MARE

    Action 9

    Prepare a detailed work plan for the coming two years to be discussed at the next SC meeting.

    Next SC meeting

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Action 10

    Liaise with EUMOFA for possible synergies and addition of data/information from EUMOFA to the EAS

    Spring 2019

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Action 11

    Liaise with EASME to explore possible synergies and suggestions for the creation of news maps based on information about or from EASME projects.

    next steering committee meeting

    EMODnet Secretariat to contact EASME

    Table 1: List of Actions


    Meeting Minutes

    Welcome and adoption of the agenda – DG MARE & EMODnet Secretariat  1-_atlas_sc_meeting_intro_words_jbc.pdf

    Chantal Vanhove (DG MARE) and Jan-Bart Calewaert (EMODnet Secretariat) welcomed the participants and thanked the members of the EAS steering committee, the development team and Nausicaà to push forward the EAS and to make a success out of it. A quick “tour de table” introduced all participants. For the complete list of participants, please refer to the Annex 1.

    Jan-Bart Calewaert (EMODnet Secretariat) clarified that the focus of this meeting is on communication rather than on technical developments which were at the focus of previous meetings. This is in line with the work plan that entailed an initial focus on technical developments and improvements to the EAS and a gradual increased focus on communication and outreach to promote the visibility and use of the Atlas.   


    Introduction by Pascal Derycke (EMODnet Secretariat)

    The main achievement since the last meeting is the release of the EAS in the 24 official EU languages in January 2019. English serves as reference language for the translations of all other 23 languages. The literals of the EAS (navigation buttons, menus, titles, …) and the help page have been translated by DG Translation. The EAS catalogue is translated thanks to the neural e-translation service of the DG translation.

    Other new elements to note:

    • The “Map of the week” focus on a specific map every Friday and is now published on the Maritime Forum;
    • New “Teachers’ corner” with exercises for educators (EC confluence Wiki);
    • Mind map in all languages: a new webpage providing a quick overview of all the available layers;
    • The Help section is now available in all languages;
    • Updated Europa website page with key information about the EAS.

    The Web statistics on the EAS clearly show an increase:

    • The number of visitors (more than 2000 visits per month)
    • The duration of the visits (around 4 minutes per visit),
    • and the number of actions performed (7.5 actions per visit)

    A background document was circulated to the participants detailing the steps, time and resources required for the development of a standalone mobile application for the EAS. The document was prepared following a request from Bernhard Friess at the last steering committee meeting to investigate this option as a way to increase the reach of the EAS. Such an app would expose the EAS to a very large audience of new users of mobile apps via the Apple-store and google-play platforms and therefore presents an attractive opportunity to exploit the EAS as a key tool to communicate and inform the wider public. This also fits into the EC DG MARE efforts to increase ocean literacy in Europe. The development of the application is not part of the current Secretariat 2017-2019 work plan, therefore the aim is to explore other funding options and synergies with other projects and initiatives to make the development of the app possible.  


    Catalogue update (new and updated map layers) – EMODnet Secretariat & Bilbomatica  2-_eas_catalogue.pdf

    The catalogue contains 234 maps at the day of the meeting: 50% of the map layers are coming from EMODnet, 20% from EUROSTAT and the other 30% from other providers such as EEA, Copernicus, EU Commission and JRC. It takes one hour to add a new map in the EAS catalogue and perform the translation. The team is reactive and agile in the way the EAS is updated. Half of the map layers come from “WMS” services of data providers (i.e. EMODnet), the other half comes from the “REST” services of the server of the European Environmental Agency (EEA).

    Two new maps have been created “on request” to support DG MARE’s outreach activities and to serve their communication needs:

    • EU beach clean-up events map (December 2018);
    • EMD in my country events map (under construction – a webinar will take place this afternoon to present a first draft of the map to the people who will organise an EMD in my country event).

    The workflow to create ad hoc maps entails:

    1. an analysis of the service to produce;
    2. basic information provision via a request form to understand the goals,
    3. Data delivery and data consistency check
    4. service design, choice of a symbol to use, generation of a draft version of the map,
    5. Service generation, QA and publication of final map

    This process takes time so there is a limit to the amount of such maps that can be produced but there is a real interest to develop more as they suit and fit the interests of DG MARE. The more ad hoc maps are produced, the easier and faster it will become to produce them as the process will become more streamlined. Two ad hoc maps are in the pipeline coming from the DG MARE’s inspection unit.

    The following new map layers from EMODnet will be added to the EAS in the coming weeks/months:

    • A set of vessel density maps (March 2019): the laborious preparatory work was done by EMODnet Human Activities which significantly reduces the burden on the EAS development team. EMODnet Human Activities have produced an extra set of maps for the EAS (i.e. annual averages per vessel types).
    • Coastal migration (April 2019).
    • Marine litter maps (release on 24 March linked to the Beach clean-up event in De Haan, Belgium).

    Discussions are ongoing with ICES and Copernicus to publish interesting maps on the EAS. Discussions are also ongoing with EEA to find out how to organise the strategy between the EAS and EEA and increase synergies between data providers.

    A new service for data providers is under-construction to provide them a private access to their maps displayed by the EAS.


    Questions and answers

    • What is the timeline for the development of the mobile application?

    Response: For the moment, this is a proposal as the development of the app is not included in our current workplan. We should see the opportunity to develop it in relation with other projects (e.g. in the framework of the partnership with Nausicaà). It can take up to 6 months to develop and test the app(s) (iOS and Android). The budget to develop such a tool will be added to the next version of the background document. The contribution of Nausicaa will be important regarding the usability of the app and what to communicate to the public.


    Monitoring the use of the Atlas – Bilbomatica & EMODnet Secretariat  3-_eas_monitoring.pdf

    Presentation of the progress on the monitoring tool:

    1. Monthly reports. These reports analyse users’ behaviours (most visited layers, country of origin, devices used, access points, etc.). The report is created manually but the idea is to automate the process. From the monthly reports, it was suggested to link the “Maps of the week” with trending topics. The monthly report is a monitoring tool to better understand the EAS and helps to increase the number of visits.
    2. Service monitoring process. Daily email alerts with information about the status of the map services are sent automatically to the EAS management and development team. When a service is down, the team is notified so   the problem can be fixed very quickly. This ensures an un-interrupted and high quality service. It has demonstrated recently to be a fully operational alert system.
    3. Feedback form. Feedback from users is important: EAS is a tool for the general public where they can take part and contribute. They can give recommendations and detect possible bugs or improve translations. The form has been designed simple (three questions) and easy to fill in the own language of the users.


    Communication and Outreach – EMODnet Secretariat  asc200319-communication-atlas.pdf

    Events are good opportunities to meet users for feedback and show the potential of the EAS. We proactively seek for opportunities to present the EAS but since few weeks, we receive an increasing number of invitations to participate at events. This is a good sign that the EAS is becoming better known and appreciated.

    The upcoming events are:

    • European Maritime Day,
    • EGU General Assembly,
    • SeaFood Global expo, EU
    • Open Day,
    • OceanObs19,
    • Hamburg Climate Week
    • and VLIZ Geography Teachers Day.

    The next Open Sea Lab Hackathon (September 2019) will also be an opportunity for the participants to use and explore the EAS.

    We see an increase number of followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. A growing number of people are also tweeting about us.

    Finally, the “Teachers’ corner” has just been set up with few exercises for teachers and educators. This section of the EAS will be progressively improved and enriched. The new partnership with Nausicaà is important to help us developing this educational resource.

    To further increase the use of the EAS as a key communication tool for DG MARE and to inform the wider public and raise awareness of ocean matters, it is important to seek opportunities with other ocean literacy initiatives and Blue Schools programmes such as the Escola Azul network in Portugal. Zoi Konstantinou (DG MARE) is in contact with the Escola Azul network to promote the EAS and explore collaboration. Two meetings were held so far and they are interested to work with us. A work plan will be established before September 2019. The network has already provided feedback and ideas for improving the EAS and a group of teachers will be set up to use the tool and provide additional feedback. They would be interested in developing exercises and training for teachers willing to use the EAS. One of the biggest barriers to introducing such tools in curricula is the capacity of the teachers. DG MARE will manage the collaboration with the Escola Azul network as there is a strong desire within DG MARE to enhance the network of Blue Schools across Europe. The idea would be to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as a basis to further develop the collaboration over the years.  Zoi Konstantinou (DG MARE) will be responsible to engage with the network and the EMODnet Secretariat will remain available to provide support upon request.


    Questions and ideas

    • Have you thought of using a touch screen or tablet to promote the EAS at events?

    Response: We will use a touch tablet provided by EASME for the EU Open day in May. It will not be available for EMD because of the shipping cost. With Nausicaà, we also discussed the possibility to develop this kind of tool based on the mobile app.

    • An idea raised was to implement a filter option for displaying subsets of map layers according to different age categories (e.g. 6-8, 8-12, 12-14, 14-18 , +all ages) by tagging all map layers. Such a filter could only display those “recommended layers for a certain age range”. Nausicaà could assist identifying those layers of interest to specific age categories. We could assist the teachers and the students in developing educational sheets for them with recommended maps layers.


    Presentation of Nausicaà  nausicaa_emodnet.pdf

    Nausicaà is the biggest aquarium in Europe with 1 million visitors per year and a unique centre for the discovery of the sea. Nausicaà is based in Boulogne-sur-Mer (France). Their mission is to raise public awareness by inspiring dreams; make people actors of the preservation of the sea. They are promoters of the blue society concept. They are also co-founder of the World Ocean Network, current coordinator/lead, and they have many other international connections.

    Nausicaà has signed a MoU with the EMODnet secretariat. When they promote the EAS, they therefore speak to a large network, not just Nausicaà.

    Nausicaà is involved in many EU projects (e.g. MARINA, Columbus, etc.) to be aware of what is new regarding the sea and spread innovations to the general public (e.g. though their “Mister good fish” programme). Nausicaà provides training to teachers and regularly organises workshops. They reach 200 000 young people each year with their educational programme and have a team of scientific mediators through an agreement with the French Ministry of Education. In short, they have a very strong educational expertise, a large impact on public awareness ocean related matters and they are neutral (public service).


    Nausicaà and the European Atlas of the Seas

    1. Presentation of the EAS in the Nausicaà Visitor App (already in place);  
    2. Communication channels: promotion of the EAS on their website, newsletters, etc.;
    3. Training to teachers (500 teachers each year) with presentation of the EAS & how to use it in classrooms;
    4. Develop a new tool for exhibitions (to be developed): a simplified EAS for visitors to manipulate the tool and to know that it exists. This tool can be a touch device that helps the visitors to manipulate the EAS. A good momentum to launch this tool could be the next EU Aquarium Congress that will take place in Nausicaà on 14-18 October 2019. About 200 aquariums will be present. Nausicaa will also host the International Aquarium congress in 2021. The decade of ocean science and ocean literacy will be launched during this event.. Aquariums might be interested by the “Map of the week” on trending topics. Nausicaà could promote them on social media. Finally, during the event “La MER XXL” in Nantes in June & July 2019, Nausicaà will have a booth and we could present the EAS there (approx. 200 000 participants).
    5. Educative tools: The journal Educaà reaches 25 000 schools in France and is published three times a year. A digital version will be available in English. Nausicaà could have an article on the EAS in the edition of September 2019. This would also be a way to ask feedback from teachers on new layers to be developed, making them contributors (“Make the EAS yours”).
    6. Nausicaà’s teachers could help to assess and improve the content of the EAS (e.g. new layers to add according to the curricula, bring new ideas, etc.). Feedback could also be solicited from the public and children during Nausicaà’s activities and use the EAS during games (e.g. new escape game). Nausicaà listed a set of key map layers to be found in the EAS – educational high topics (Sea surface temperature, currents, marine litter, …). . Most of them would be easy to implement and may be an incentive for EMODnet groups to accelerate the development of some maps (e.g. EMODnet Biology and the animal migration routes maps). A map layer showing Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of different European countries might be more sensitive to develop/display and may require special attention.

    Questions and comments

    • The EAS is currently hosted by EC DG Digit. With an potential high increase of visitors, we need to ensure performance of the hosting service. It is therefore essential to ensure performance and anticipate any problems that could arise.
    • The two major conferences organised at Nausicaà (EU Aquarium Congress, 14-18 October 2019; International Aquarium Congress, 20222) are excellent opportunities to showcase the EAS and the collaboration with DG MARE in view of wider ocean literacy activities.
    • Could there be synergies between The European Market Observatory for fisheries and aquaculture (EUMOFA) and the EAS?

    Response: We focused a lot on schools during this meeting but the audience of the EAS is much broader. The EAS is also intended to serve non-data expert professionals. Many EAS maps are relevant for communication purpose. They can be included in their presentations, articles, etc. As it is the main communication tool of DG MARE, EUMOFA could provide data for maps which would add great value to the EAS.

    • The technical components which have been implemented for the EAS will be used to develop the EMODnet data store which will provide a dedicated EAS service for professionals.
    • A work plan is required to set priorities as it will not be able to do everything at the same time with the best quality level. Until September 2019, the management and development team will implement what was promised to achieve in the framework of the current contract (September 2017 – September 2019). A more detailed work plan for the coming two years will be discussed at the next SC meeting.
    • As Nausicaà is based in France, what is the strategy to reach citizens beyond France? Florence Huron clarified that more than 30% of the visitors of Nausicaà are not from France. In addition, Nausicaà has a leading position in networks of aquaria and science centers in Europe and internationally. Philippe VALLETTE, the CEO of Nausicaa, is now the President of the International Aquarium Network. The international events organised by Nausicaà allow to expose the EAS to aquariums and ocean communicators from many EU countries and beyond. The coordinator of the World Ocean Network is also based at Nausicaà.
    • EASME would be interested to explore options to develop a map for the EAS representing EASME information similar to the ‘Marine Spatial Planning Projects’ map showing the location of the different EASME/DGMARE projects and/or activities.


    Next Steering Committee Meeting

    The next meeting is foreseen to be scheduled on Thursday 12 September 2019, from 10:00 to 12:00. 



    Jan-Bart Calewaert (EMODnet Secretariat) concluded by thanking everybody for their constructive participation. The meeting minutes and the presentations of the meeting will be circulated within two weeks following the meeting and posted on the Maritime Forum. He also apologies for the participants using a remote connection provided by DG MARE as they were only able to follow the meeting but not able to speak or contribute. The EMODnet Secretariat will make sure we have a stable remote connection for the next meeting.   


    Annex 1 – List of participants




    Chantal Vanhove


    Zoi Konstantinou



    Alessandra Portis


    Tim Lemmens

    (remote connection)


    Stanislova Jonusas


    Laurene Jolly


    Fabrizio Donatella


    Fernando Nieto Conde


    Ana Tejedor

    (remote connection)


    Agnès Lavergne


    Florence Huron


    Raúl García


    Alberto Telletxea


    Natalia Orio Moreno


    Jan-Bart Calewaert

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Pascal Derycke

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Andrée-Anne Marsan

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Kate Larkin

    EMODnet Secretariat


    Annex 2 – EMD in my country webinar


    EMD in my country Webinar  d5.1_minutes_of_atlas_of_the_seas_3rd_sc_mtg_20_03_2019_-_annex_2_webinar_emd_in_my_country.pdf