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6th EC Marine Knowledge Expert Group (MKEG) Meeting Minutes

Published on: Fri, 15/10/2021 - 15:43
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    In this article, you can find the minutes of the 6th Marine Knowledge Expert Group (MKEG) Meeting (Autumn 2021)

    6th EC Marine Knowledge Expert Group (MKEG) Meeting Minutes

    8 and 9 September 2021, Remote Zoom meeting

    List of Participants: See Annex I

    The main aims of the 6th meeting of the European Commission (EC) Marine Knowledge Expert Group (MKEG) were to update members about the latest developments in the European Marine Observation and Data network (EMODnet), including the ongoing move towards repatriation and centralisation of services (including all data and data products), and to collect feedback from MKEG members on EMODnet status, recommendations for future development, and other related projects and initiatives such as the EC Ocean Observing: Sharing Responsibility initiative and related EC Ocean Observation event, that took place on the 18th of June 2021.

    To optimise interaction and engagement with EMODnet, the 6th MKEG meeting was held in two sessions:  The first session was held on Wednesday 8th September 2021 afternoon, jointly with the 15th EMODnet Steering Committee (SC) meeting, and also attended by the EMODnet Technical Working Group. The joint session was chaired by Jan-Bart Calewaert (JBC) (Head of the EMODnet Secretariat). This enabled MKEG members to hear the latest EMODnet thematic developments presented by EMODnet Coordinators, and interact directly with EMODnet SC and Technical Working Group (TWG) members (see full participants list in Annex I). This was followed by a closed MKEG session on Thursday 9th September 2021 afternoon, restricted to MKEG members, EC DG MARE and the EMODnet Secretariat (see Annex I). The closed session was chaired by Zoi Konstantinou (ZK) (Unit A1 Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment, DG MARE, European Commission) and included further discussion and feedback from MKEG on strategic EMODnet developments e.g. centralisation, as well as feedback to further optimise Ocean Observation governance and links with the wider European Ocean Observing Community. In this afternoon session, the EMODnet Secretariat served as rapporteurs.

    Wednesday 8th September, afternoon session 14:00-17:30, held jointly with the EMODnet Steering Committee and Technical Working Group

    Welcome and Updates (EMODnet Secretariat and EC, DG MARE) 

    Secretariat intro

    Jan-Bart Calewaert (JBC), Head of the EMODnet Secretariat, welcomed all EC Marine Knowledge Expert Group (MKEG) members to the EMODnet Steering Committee (SC) Open Session, which included members from the EMODnet SC, EMODnet Technical Working Group (TWG) and EC MKEG (see Participants list, Annex I). Following an overview of practical arrangements and housekeeping rules for the online meeting, JBC initiated a tour-de-table with short introductions from SC, TWG and MKEG members, and then briefly presented the meeting agenda.

    EMODnet and EC Marine Knowledge Expert Group updates (EC, DG MARE)

    Zoi Konstantinou (ZK, EC, DG MARE) informed the participants about the successful repatriation of the EMODnet website to the Europa domain, noting that this had taken substantial effort from the EMODnet Secretariat and VLIZ, as well as the continued efforts undertaken by the entire EMODnet-network with respect to the centralisation process. She highlighted that the ongoing process of centralisation of all thematic services on the EMODnet Central Portal was timely considering ongoing EU initiatives Destination Earth, and the Digital Twin of the Ocean, together with the EU Green Deal policy framework. She emphasized that each of these major initiatives require high quality marine data (both satellite-derived and in situ data) and EMODnet’s role in supporting these initiatives was considered essential. Furthermore, she highlighted the DG MARE vision to support EMODnet and to bring the network forward in these actions.

    Repatriation: update on work achieved and future updates (Secretariat & VLIZ)

    EMODnet repatriation

    Conor Delaney (CD, EMODnet Secretariat) provided an update of the actions to-date regarding the repatriation process. He noted the biggest achievement had been the launch of the repatriated website on 19th July 2021, highlighting the new website url as CD, thanked VLIZ and TRUST-IT for their hard work in the run-up to the launch. CD highlighted that although the launch took place, continuous efforts are required on the following topics:

    • Privacy statement;
    • An update of the Map viewer;
    • An update to the Products catalogue to a newer version of the GeoNetwork which will make the data products more accessible.

    Bart Vanhoorne (BV, VLIZ) elaborated a bit more on the preparation taking place before the launch of the website and mentioned they are currently working with VLIZ on an IT security plan.

    Next to technical elements, another major achievement involved the move from MailChimp to News Room for the EMODnet monthly News Digest, which was activated for the August 2021 News Digest, as a requirement under repatriation rules.

    CD, concluded that the repatriation would be discussed in more detail at the 10th EMODnet Technical Working Group meeting taking place 9-10 September 2021.


    Dick Schaap (DS, Maris, EMODnet Bathymetry, EMODnet Data Ingestion) asked how EMODnet Coordinators could propose updates to content for the EMODnet Central Portal website.

    Francis Strobbe (FS, EMODnet Secretariat) replied that currently the best approach is to send updates to the EMODnet Secretariat general e-mail address: in order to avoid issues with the applicable cookie policies. He added the technical team is currently working on a protocol to guide the Coordinators to update their content accordingly on the new website which will be distributed to Coordinators, when available.

    Centralisation process: short updates on progress, implementation process and next steps (VLIZ and EMODnet Secretariat) 

    EMODnet centralisation process

    Joana Beja (JB, VLIZ, EMODnet Central Portal), gave a brief overview of the EMODnet Central Portal team working on the centralisation process. First, she presented the centralisation timeline, explaining that the initial request came from both EC, DG MARE and CINEA to make all data, metadata and thematic lot data accessible via the EMODnet Central Portal. She underlined that the timeline for each thematic to centralise its services is staggered across a two year time period. She added that the exact shutdown date of each individual portal website would be determined both with CINEA/ EC, DG MARE and the thematics, when the information transfer is fully complete.

    She confirmed that the first portal to be transferred to the Central Portal will be Bathymetry. General progress updates included the decision that the single Central Portal map viewer is based on the EMODnet Bathymetry viewer, currently in development by service provider Bibliomática. Joana noted that meetings were taking place every two weeks with the core centralisation team (EMODnet Secretariat, VLIZ, Bilbomática) to discuss process, and future topics included finalisation of the download function for data.

    In addition to the meetings between the Central Portal technical team and Bathymetry, she added that exploratory meetings are hosted every one and a half months with other thematics where potential issues or constraints are being discussed, such as meetings already held with EMODnet Biology and EMODnet Human Activities. She outlined the next steps in the ongoing centralisation process involve:

    • Continuation of meetings with different thematics;
    • Static content centralisation;
    • Upload from EMODnet Biology, Bathymetry and Human Activities products to the ERDAPP server (The ERDAPP server is expected to facilitate the process of downloading data subsets and is being set up by VLIZ);
    • A visualisation tool which will be implemented into the development server.

    Dick Schaap (DS, Maris, EMODnet Bathymetry) Thierry Schmitt (SHOM, EMODnet Bathymetry) noted that discussions between EMODnet Bathymetry and the Central Portal team were progressing well. EMODnet Bathymetry noted the importance of focusing effort on ensuring all data content was made centrally available, and the thematic particularly welcomed the possibility for customised functionalities, and they are now awaiting the proof of concept (both for the viewer and ERDAPP functionalities).

    Alessandro Pittito (AP, COGEA, EMODnet Human Activities) added that EMODnet Human Activities is currently half way through the discussions which are progressing in a straightforward manner, adding that Bibliomática and the Central Portal technical team are doing excellent work in transferring all functionalities.

    CD concluded that technical details would be discussed more in detail in the Technical Working Group meeting on Friday 10 September (morning session), with technical developers from Bibliomática.

    Updates from EMODnet thematic assembly groups 

    EMODnet Bathymetry

    EMODnet Biology

    EMODnet Chemistry

    EMODnet Geology

    EMODnet Human Activities

    EMODnet Physics

    EMODnet Seabed Habitats

    EMODnet Data Ingestion

    Each EMODnet thematic group provided an overall status update including an update on thematic outputs, cross-thematic and external interactions and the future outlook of their thematic activity. The main points of these presentations summarised below.

    EMODnet Bathymetry Thierry Schmitt (SHOM)

    Recent Updates:

    • EMODnet Bathymetry signed a new contract in December 2020;
    • In April 2021 they held a kick off meeting and metadata workshop. Contributors are progressing in populating metadata and especially in migrating the Creative Commons (CC)-By license;
    • Contributors are asked to generate/ sample their bathymetric data and provide them to sea-basin coordinators by the end of 2021 to produce an update to the Digital Terrain Model (DTM).

    Cross thematic collaborations:

    • EMODnet Bathymetry has frequent interactions with EMODnet Seabed Habitats, including for the EMOD-PACE project;
    • A student has worked on the quality layers alongside the Digital Terrain Model (DTM), with work including investigating the countries Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and making a correlation between DTM and marine traffic.

    External interactions:

    • Ongoing dialogues include the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), Seabed 2030 initiative, and Copernicus Marine Service, (including a dialogue on coastal bathymetry mapping and coastal zone DTM), etc.

    Future Outlook:

    • Progress to update the Full DTM and High resolution DTM with new data sets;
    • Bathymetry thematic portal migration to the EMODnet Central Portal is ongoing;
    • Upcoming meetings:
    • Meso American-Caribbean Sea marine spatial data infrastructure, 22 September 2021; and
    • Ocean Hackathon, Brest and Europe-wide, 5-7 November 2021.

    EMODnet Biology – Joana Beja (VLIZ)

    Recent Updates:

    • EMODnet Biology completed a successful end of phase III in April 2021 (report here) and held the kick-off meeting for Phase IV on 18-19 May 2021 (report here).
    • Currently 1143 datasets are published online;
    • COVID-19 impacts included delays in data submission and the continuation of online meetings.

    Cross collaboration:

    • Meetings between EMODnet Physics, EMODnet Human Activities and the MSFD Technical Group (TG) on Underwater Noise to discuss the assessment framework for this Descriptor 11 of MSFD;
    • EMODnet Biology and Seabed Habitats:
      • Held a dialogue to discuss developing new standards for EMODnet Biology/EurOBIS;
      • Co-designed a public questionnaire to gather feedback for cross lot product development, open until 1 October 2021.

    External interactions:

    • Meeting between EMODnet Biology and PANGEA in order to assess data flows to optimise data ingestion into EMODnet Biology;
    • Meeting with European Seabirds At Sea (ESAS) to seek collaboration and potential data ingestion;
    • Dialogue with European Horizon 2020 project Advancing Black Sea Research and Innovation to Co-Develop Blue Growth within Resilient Ecosystems (BRIDG-BS) to provide guidance/ support for Black Sea data ingestion in the EMODnet Biology portal.

    Future Outlook:

    • Centralisation process is ongoing for EMODnet Biology;
    • Internal survey amongst EMODnet Biology partners on creating an inventory for citizen science digitalisation efforts.

    EMODnet Chemistry Alessandra Giorgetti (OGS)

    Recent Updates:

    • Great increase in number of new data sets (CDI’s) almost 70000, including via EuroARGO;
    • Release of the floating micro-litter data collection;
    • Contacted by UNEP-MAP to use EMODnet data for calculation of assessment criteria for nutrients and contaminants.
    • Further revision of SeaDataNet vocabulary tool;
    • Interest by EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) in marine sediment contaminants in order to evaluate the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and zero pollution action plan;
    • Release of new gridded climatologies with new maps focusing on river mouths;

    Completed update to the online WebODVservice.

    Cross-thematic collaboration:

    • To support environmental management, an example was shown on combining EMODnet data products and Copernicus Marine Service products during the EMODnet Open Conference.         

    External collaboration:

    • Contribution to the SDG 14.3.1 ocean acidification;
    • EMODnet Chemistry will publish a whitepaper on global oxygen levels;
    • Regular interactions with Regional Sea Conventions (RSCs) and EC JRC, e.g., on data harmonisation.

    Future Outlook:

    • Phase III will end on 2 October 2021, with Phase IV starting 3 October 2021;
    • Revise and publish EMODnet Chemistry contaminants maps;
    • Complete the floating micro-litter integrated data ‘offer’;
    • Promote the EMODnet Chemistry data, data products and WebODV tool to external stakeholders.

    EMODnet Geology Henry Vallius (GTK)

    Recent Updates:

    • New EMODnet Geology map on coastal type was published in May 2021;
    • The Seabed substrate data product was in final stages of updates to expand coverage e.g., Caspian Sea, and new scales added including scales of 1:1500;

    Post meeting note, updates to the seabed substrate data product were published online on 21 September 2021.

    Cross-thematic Collaboration:

    • Geology, Bathymetry and Seabed Habitats lots held a cross-thematic Jamboree session on 18 June 2021;
    • Discussions are ongoing on availability of data in the Caspian Sea (e.g. with VSEGEI, Russian partner).
    • Russian subcontract data work (conducted in the Caspian Sea) will also be made available for EMODnet bathymetry in next phase.

    External collaborations:

    • Consultation was held with the European Plate Observing System (EPOS) for creating a normalised and denormalised data model for use in future metadata index contributions starting in Phase IV;
    • EMOD-PACE contribution (coastal erosion analysis WP5, seabed substrates data product contribution for habitats map WP4).

    Future Outlook:

    • Next contract will start on 25 September 2021;
    • Focus on new geographical areas e.g. Caribbean Sea and new parameter coastal erosion;
    • Ongoing dialogue towards EMODnet Geology migration to Central Portal;
    • Working on new ways of presenting data (2,5D) visualisation and dynamic legends.


    Fabienne Jacq (FJ, EC, DG DEFIS) encouraged EMODnet Bathymetry to work together with Copernicus Marine Service (CMEMS) an to use CMEMS Sentinel 2 data for any satellite-derived data required for new EMODnet data products.

    Thierry Schmitt (TS, EMODnet Bathymetry) mentioned he had initiated dialogue with Mercator Ocean International (MOi) in order to get some convergence on the CMEMS/bathymetry work.

    FJ thanked EMODnet Chemistry for their collaboration with CMEMS on the MSFD product portfolio.

    David Connor (DC, EC, DG ENV) highlighted the work of EMODnet with the MSFD working group and asked if its outputs were being used in the regional seas. Alessandra Giorgetti (AG, OGS, EMODnet Chemistry) replied that regional data sets were being used, and that there was the potential for more maps to be used.

    Kate Larkin (KL, EMODnet Secretariat) referred to the recent IPCC Working Group I 6th Assessment Report Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, noting the increasing importance of ocean carbon data and indicators and the opportunity to connect EMODnet in situ data into such ocean-climate assessments. AG replied that more interaction would be very welcome.

    EMODnet Human Activities- Alessandro Pittito (COGEA)

    Recent Updates:

    • Received and published three Marine Spatial Plans (MSP) (Äuland Islands, Denmark, Ireland, status 8 September 2021), made available in collaboration with EMODnet Data Ingestion;
    • Desalinisation data set will be published soon;
    • Continuing development of a concept and pilot for a Human Pressures Index;
    • Continued focus on making all thematic data and data products INSPIRE compliant.

    Cross-Thematic collaboration:

    • Cross-thematic collaboration with EMODnet Physics to improve underwater noise maps with AIS data or vessel density maps.

    External interactions:

    • European Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Data Expert group who established a data model, fully compatible with INSPIRE, amongst others with other initiatives e.g., BASEMAPS – HELCOM, etc;
    • The U.S. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency are using the EMODnet Human Activity method for their vessel density map. There are potential future collaborations for a global density map;

    Future outlook:

    • Cooperate with SHOM to facilitate the ingestion of spatial plans from the countries involved in cross-border MSP cooperation activities e.g., SIMNORAT and SIMWESTMED;
    • Continue collaboration with EC JRC on algae, spirulina production facilities;
    • Release of new data sets e.g., desalination data sets, and expanding the number of national MSP plans, when submitted through Data Ingestion.
    • Improve the aquaculture outreach of satellite data.


    ZK, (EC, DG MARE) explained that coordination with the Regional Sea Conventions (RSCs) is in the thematic lot’s contracts. She proposed that all the thematic lots should coordinate together if they want to present themselves as one specific actor to interact with the RSC. JBC mentioned the EMODnet Secretariat is ready to facilitate on a need-basis.

    JBC referred to the Human Pressure Index and indicated this should be closely monitored, preferably being coordinated with existing initiatives, to not re-invent the wheel. David Connor (DC, DG ENV) highlighted that the development should proceed with caution since many organisations try to implement these indexes each with different outcomes and that the practical context and use of such an Index should be clear. AP agreed and explained the Human Pressure Index is not a contractual obligation for EMODnet Human Activities and will be developed as a pilot, based upon a scientific approach. AP would continue to update the EMODnet SC and EC MKEG on the development of this at upcoming EMODnet SC open sessions.

    EMODnet Physics- Patrick Gorringe (SMHI)

    Recent Updates:

    • Ongoing work to complete the re organization of datasets in ERDDAP;
    • Several data products received an update i.e. salinity, temperature, etc.       

    Cross-thematic collaboration:

    • Cross-thematic meetings took place with Data Ingestion and Chemistry to discuss real-time interoperability and Citizen Science oriented actions (including Jamboree 2021);
    • Cross-thematic meetings with Human Activities and Biology on underwater noise from vessels and impacts on marine species;
    • Expert support for EMOD-PACE activities on human activities asset mapping (WP3, WP5).

    External collaboration:

    • Global interactions with:
      • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on ERDAPP development;
      • Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) e.g., for increased data from Baltic Sea rivers;
    • Collection of Arctic data: the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SHMI) received a small funding from Copernicus Marine Service to increase the amount of data from the Arctic into the EMODnet Physics portal, including research cruise datasets between 1998 and 2021;

    Future Outlook:

    • Identify and ingest new data sets, focusing on improved data harmonization and access (especially from the Black Sea);
    • Explore the potential to include forecast information to enhance the user experience, working with Copernicus Marine Service;
    • Continue to support activities on platform level (HFR, FB, tide gauge, fishing vessels, etc);
    • Identify new emerging data sources e.g. citizen science.


    ZK (EC, DG MARE) asked EMODnet Physics how they saw the forecasting activity developing. Patrick Gorringe (PG, EMODnet Physics) noted this is in very early development phase and he would welcome further discussion with the Steering Group, and with Copernicus Marine Service.

    Fabienne Jacq (FJ, EC, DG DEFIS), noted that for Artic data, Copernicus Marine Service works in close collaboration with an “Ice charting working group”. She suggested that EMODnet Physics could have a structured dialogue with Copernicus Marine Service about a) Arctic data and b) future forecasting activity ensuring that we build upon Copernicus Marine Service capability.

    EMODnet Seabed Habitats Mickaël Vasquez (Ifremer)

    Recent Updates:

    • New layers were published under the Composite data products;
    • The interactive map view was updated with several functionality improvements.

    Cross Thematic Collaboration:

    • Together with EMODnet Biology a standardised approach was developed for submitting habitat observations into EMODnet;
    • Interactions with Geology, particularly regarding seabed substrate data.

    External collaboration:

    • Recommendations to European Environment Agency (EEA) about EUNIS 2019 Marine Classification;
    • Reaching out to data owners in the Caspian Sea, noting this was not an easy task.

    Future developments:

    • An update to the Essential Ocean Variable maps;
    • EUSeamap 2021 (Update of seabed substrate and translation in the new version of marine EUNIS).


    JBC asked if VSEGEI who are already well connected to the EMODnet partnership could help with data gathering in the Caspian Sea. Helen Lillis (HL, JNCC, EMODnet Seabed Habitats) mentioned the collaboration with VSEGEI is useful and they are trying to find other subcontractors in that area or in general anyone who has access to data. An open invitation was shared from EMODnet Seabed Habitats coordinators to all EMODnet SC, DG MARE/ CINEA colleagues and MKEG Members if they are aware of any organisations linked to data of the Caspian Sea.

    EMODnet Data Ingestion Portal Dick Schaap (MARIS)

    Recent Updates:

    • External data providers can submit data via a 2-stage approach. The first stage is to publish the data in the current format, the second stage is about further integration and elaboration (of subsets) into national, European and thematic portals;
    • Increase in data submissions: Most submitted data sets are Physics, followed by Seabed Habitats, Bathymetry and Chemistry;
    • Most data originators (currently 144) are researchers and universities but there’s also a good representation of companies.

    Cross Collaboration:

    • Data Ingestion continues to find and provide new data to the thematic portals;
    • For Human Activities, MSP seems to be quite attracted to the service.

    External Collaboration

    • The Renewable Grid Initiative is working on a data inventory to ingest data later on via EMODnet Data Ingestion;
    • New contacts through REMP project (deep-sea mining) via Seascape Consultancy for ingestion of data. Other contacts were established with SBM offshore (offshore sites, floating production units) and OceanEye (NGO with marine litter data);
    • Coupling with SeaDataNet /SEANOE data citing service (DOI’s).

    Future Development:

    • Contract ends 10 October 2021;
    • Action ongoing for publishing remaining submissions where possible;
    • Reporting planned for end November 2021.

    EMODnet Conference and Jamboree de-brief and feedback

    Kate Larkin (KL, EMODnet Secretariat) provided a summary of Secretariat activities regarding the reporting and follow-up since the EMODnet Open Conference 2021. She thanked all the SC, TWG and EC MKEG for their varied contributions to the Conference as speakers, panelists, poster producers, facilitators and rapporteurs, providing content for plenary sessions, breakout discussions, poster exhibitions, etc. She explained the Open Conference was considered a success with more than 400 participants registered and that for legacy purposes, the B2match platform and the Virtual Exhibition would remain live until the end of November 2021. She urged participants to re-visit the diverse resources available and noted that the EMODnet Central Portal would also be enhanced in Autumn 2021 with links to key Conference resources as a longer-term legacy. She tabled the mature draft EMODnet Open Conference Report, noting it contained a summary and recommendations from the full event, together with highlights from the Jamboree open dialogues on Ocean Best Practices, Citizen Science and the European Atlas of the Seas. The professionally designed report would be made available by October 2021 via the EMODnet website.

    Francis Strobbe, (FS, EMODnet Secretariat) gave a short de-brief on the EMODnet Jamboree, Ocean Best Practice session (16 June 2021) key messages (see the short summary here) and next steps. During the session, it was recommended that EMODnet could develop a protocol in order to track these practices.

    Tim Collart, (TC, EMODnet Secretariat) gave a short de-brief about the EMODnet Jamboree, Citizen Science session (18 June 2021) which contained a very lively discussion and sharing of perspectives on how to involve and support Citizen Science initiatives (see the summary here).

    EMODnet online survey and targeted assessment: summary of results

    Online Survey & Targeted Assessment

    Nathalie Tonné (NT, EMODnet Secretariat) presented the main results of both the Online Survey (OS) and Targeted Assessment (TA) conducted by the EMODnet Secretariat in 2021. Both are recurring activities under the EMODnet framework.

    Online Survey: This was launched in order to gain insight how the user community uses the EMODnet Central Portal and their appraisal. Highlights included:

    • 21 Questions were completed by 59 respondents;
    • 83% find it easy to scan through the Central Portal;
    • The Map Viewer is the most popular key service;
    • About 2/3 of the respondents assessed the quality of the key services to be good;
    • When users download data, they prefer CSV or NetCDF;
    • Respondents use also other services to source marine data. Yet, over 60% of users noted that they exclusively use EMODnet for their data needs, and they do not integrate EMODnet data and data products with outputs from other data services. This means that there is a large user base that rely on EMODnet for all their marine data and data product needs.


    • Need for even more stable web services;
    • High need for complete metadata (data provenance, data product creation transparency and last edit/update) to further move towards full interoperability of data;
    • Importance of access to high quality visualisation tools.

    Graeme Duncan (GD, JNCC) noted that shapefile appears to remain one of the most preferred formats, despite the offer of many other data layer formats.

    Dick Schaap (DS, Maris) noted that shapefile is indeed still popular and added that most users completing the EMODnet Online Survey 2021 were users firstly of data products, and then maps and data.

    Joana Beja (JB, VLIZ) responded to this anticipating that the demand for using original data is likely to increase when all lots are centralised, giving streamlined access to all data and data products.

    Targeted Assessment (TA): The 2021 TA was focused on industry, aiming to gather feedback on EMODnet services from multiple blue economy sectors. The objective was to better understand the industry needs against EMODnet going forward.


    • >20 industry representatives were invited following a mapping exercise to ensure diversity and cross-sector representation;
    • 12 Interviews were conducted (after the respondents completed a questionnaire);
    • Most of them showed moderate motivation to become a data provider (if not already);
    • Metadata was again a crucial element (origin of the raw data behind the products).


    • Suggestions were made to improve the ingestion process:
      • Via uptake of data by users;
      • Tagging of data;
      • Demonstrate added value.
    •  Create a visual map showing EMODnet data contributors & partners:
      • Increase visibility;
      • Motivate becoming partner.

    Joana Beja (JB, EMODnet Biology) noted the feedback regarding the visual map of the EMOD-network was an interesting outcome as this coincides with an upcoming deliverable for EMODnet Biology to map their network and external connections.

    EMODnet Communication: updates on latest videos (Secretariat) 

    Francis Strobbe (FS, EMODnet Secretariat) explained that in addition to multiple EMODnet videos targeted at various sectors and topics (e.g., Marine Spatial Planning, Aquaculture, etc.) two more videos were in finalization: EMODnet for civil society, and EMODnet for tourism. He noted these videos would be made available through the EMODnet website under the tab communication. JBC highlighted that he welcomed feedback on the videos or advice on how to disseminate them as well as new ideas for upcoming videos in the future.

    External partnerships and interactions (Secretariat, DG MARE, ALL) 

    EMODnet EU Partnerships

    EMODnet 4 Global



    KL and JBC highlighted the main interactions and collaborations with external initiatives and partnerships.

    • European partnerships: Copernicus Marine Service & Other

    KL presented the key contributions and partnerships that EMODnet has on an EU level. She highlighted the long-standing collaboration and partnership with Copernicus Marine Service at operational and coordination levels and across multiple EMODnet thematics. She noted that recent collaborations had included a joint meeting on Coastal Issues in 2020, two joint workshops on marine data for aquaculture (North Atlantic, October 2020; Mediterranean and Black Seas, March 2021) organised by EMODnet and the Copernicus Marine Service, in collaboration with the European Aquaculture Technology Platform (EATiP) and the EC DG MARE and DG Defis, and a joint portfolio on EMODnet and CMEMS data and data products relevant to MSFD Descriptors in the Baltic Sea region, published in June 2021.

    Next, she highlighted ongoing collaborations with PANGEA to optimize data flows, including automated harvesting of data by EMODnet Physics, a recent meeting with EMODnet Biology and upcoming meeting with EMODnet Chemistry and Data Ingestion in Autumn 2021. KL also noted the concrete interactions with Regional Sea Conventions, highlighting the example of the Black Sea Commission (BSC) who spoke at the EMODnet Open Conference 2021 about the valued MoU between the BSC and EMODnet Chemistry that had led to more national data being ingested into EMODnet from the Black Sea marine pollution database. She also mentioned a recent meeting on 2 September 2021 where the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Marine Action Plan (MAP) had invited both EMODnet Chemistry and the EMODnet Secretariat to join an initial meeting to plan data requirements for an upcoming Quality Status Report 2023. Opportunities were highlighted for other EMODnet thematics to contribute to this activity.

    In the interest of time, it was decided that two agenda items, namely (i) The EC, Ocean Observing Event, (ii) EMODnet for Society would be discussed at the EMODnet Closed SC session on 9 September (morning).

    • Global partnerships: EMOD-PACE, IODE, GEOSS & GEO-Blue Planet, UN Ocean Decade

    JBC provided some examples of concrete collaborations that EMODnet has with international initiatives such as the the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) of UNESCO, the Group on Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) and its marine coordination activity GEO Blue Planet, Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS) and explained briefly the future outlook with respect to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for sustainable development and Digital Twin of the Ocean (DITTO).

    He then provided highlights from the EMOD-PACE project, an EU-China project engaging all EMODnet Coordinators and a key example of EMODnet’s regional partnerships beyond Europe. He noted that in the coming 6 months a physical meeting with European partners and the National Marine Data & Information Service (NMDIS) is planned in China and that work is progressing on new data layers and products, whilst some challenges in data interoperability and data sharing remain.

    JBC noted that the SC would reconvene for a closed session on 9th September morning, and that the SC could revisit some of the agenda items from the open session, to discuss these in more detail, and to cover agenda points on European Ocean Observing and EMODnet for Society that had not been covered due to time constraints. He thanked all participants and in particular noted the added value of having the EC MKEG joining the SC joint session to hear the latest updates on the diverse EMODnet services. The meeting was then closed.

    Post-meeting note: The EMODnet secretariat shared all presentations from the Joint session with all participants directly after the meeting, via email.

    Thursday 9th September, afternoon session 14:00-17:00, closed EC MKEG session

    Opening and Welcome:

    Zoi Konstantinou (ZK, EC, DG MARE) welcomed all EC MKEG experts to the second session of the 6th MKEG meeting, noting this was a closed session for MKEG members only, chaired by the EC DG MARE, with reporting by the EMODnet Secretariat. She gave an overview of the agenda which would include seeing MKEG feedback on the EC Ocean Observation - sharing responsibility initiative, initiated to stimulate a better coordination at the governance level of ocean observation. The agenda would also discuss feedback on EMODnet services, following the recent EMODnet repatriation to the Europa domain as well as the ongoing centralisation process of all EMODnet thematics to the Central Portal.

    EC Ocean Observation – sharing responsibility initiative: Feedback and discussion

    * In order to facilitate the discussion, the draft community recommendations of the EC Ocean Observation event on 18th June 2021 were sent to the MKEG members for their information and feedback.

    ZK explained the background to the EC Ocean Observation initiative and invited EC MKEG members to provide their feedback on how the initiative could concretely be actioned by, and add value to the work of their sector(s). She explained the vision behind this initiative was to stimulate nations to increase their coordination efforts regarding ocean observation capability at the Member State (MS) level, and implement better coordination mechanisms to increase transparency in their observing activities (who’s doing what and where), reduce duplication, cover important gaps and save costs. She added that it is the EC’s intention to develop more synergies and economies of scale at MS-level and to avoid overlaps in the European ocean observing community.

    Quillon Harpham (QH, HR Wallingford) noted the draft ‘community recommendations’ of the EC Ocean Observation event on 18 June 2021 was a good summary of the event discussions and he did not have anything to add.

    Toste Tanhua (TT, GEOMAR), asked ZK how she saw the interaction going forward between existing EU initiatives on ocean coordination efforts i.e., European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) and the European component of the Global Ocean Observing System (EUROGOOS) and how she saw that from the EC side.

    ZK, mentioned she could only answer this question from a personal point of view, and could not speak for the Commission. According to her, the EC has a clear role to play in mobilising ocean observation at Member State (MS) level. MS’s should have the knowledge about the actors and stakeholders involved and who should take part in the discussion at MS level. She suggested that EOOS national focal points could play a role in creating momentum and advocating for the importance of the initiative at the level of the MS. In her view it is also considered necessary to reach further transparency at this level and to assess how funding is invested and optimized. She closed by noting that stakeholder dialogue was considered an important aspect of the preparatory status and for this reason there had been extensive stakeholder consultation, the latest consultation closing in February 2021. This is currently being considered to assess the most appropriate framework for further coordination, including the possibility of a legal framework.

    TT, replied that from his point of view, in Europe there is EOOS and EuroGOOS and a system of European GOOS national focal points (NCPs). He explained these NFPs are the governmental bodies who represent the nations in terms of observations. He noted that GOOS was assessing how to optimise the connections between national and global systems, which might lead to an update of the GOOS NCP Terms of Reference He noted that to effectively coordinate the diverse national ocean observation resources in each Member State a National Ocean Observing Committee was needed in each country. He added that coordination is currently not standardised, so more efforts should go to connecting existing collaborations between different people conducting monitoring, sharing equipment, vessels, etc. He also noted that inputs from the coastal areas were required. In his opinion, the EC Ocean Observation initiative should focus on assessing gaps and overlaps while formalising administration and coordination – potentially through legislation (e.g., a Directive) - to connect across the wider ocean observing data collection efforts.

    ZK mentioned there’s a lot of differences at MS level as approaches are not yet standardised. She added that particularly the ‘how’ and ‘what’ is not coordinated. She underpinned the advantages and economies of scale in sharing equipment, vessel sharing, etc. within the ocean observing community while highlighting the importance of creating more transparency with this approach. She added that coastal areas – including the land-sea boundary - should be involved as well in the ocean observing framework as well as other elements, although she recognised that perhaps in the current framework this was not possible, yet.

    After a short break the following questions were posed to the MKEG members:

    • How would sectors of the blue economy view a more formalised approach to ocean observation?
    • How would such approach involve the research community (e.g. monitoring)?

    TT mentioned the involvement of science is key and that ocean observation driven by science is not always set up to be a long-term sustained initiative.

    Gerben de Boer (GdB, Van Oord) noted he was representing the private sector and was happy to read that the private sector had been engaged in the EC Ocean Observation consultations and the event on 18th June 2021. He underpinned that any future national coordination should also take into account the private sector, although he highlighted that the private sector does not focus on a national perspective, but more often on a cross-border/regional or international approach.

    ZK mentioned that improved governance and a more integrated approach would facilitate this process of coordination across actors and geographical scales. She invited MKEG to respond to the question of how the blue economy sector would view a legislative initiative towards better governance of ocean observation and to provide their feedback on if this would improve current activities of their sector. Moreover, would such an initiative lead to less administrative burden, or even more?

    TT replied you could think of it as a push-pull between industry and government.

    GdB replied that government requirements are the best way to ensure compliance by the private sector. He added that companies have no incentive to put marine environmental sensors on marine offshore platforms (e.g., offshore wind power monopoles) as it is an additional cost, although if it was a requirement from nations and/or the EU to build in the potential for marine environmental sensors to be plugged in via cabled sensors, then it would be done and would increase the opportunities for private sector and science institutes to interlinked with each other. He proposed an idea to distribute EMODnet material whenever someone purchases sensors and material. This would increase the visibility of EMODnet as an EU public service which could increase data sharing by the private sector. It could even be strongly recommended for data collected to be shared with EMODnet (after any embargos due to commercial competition), so that this data pipeline towards open data is confirmed from the beginning. He noted that for many marine environmental sensors the market is small e.g., for wave buoy suppliers there are <5 manufacturers worldwide that are internationally reputable. This means that such a recommendation or requirement could be communicated, and enforced, more easily.

    TT, highlighted it’s not clear from the EC Ocean Observation recommendations document what to measure were and the applicable requirements. How do you conduct a gap analysis when you don’t know what to measure?

    An example was shared by GdB where private and public sectors may have different data requirements e.g., for many companies collecting surface wind and wave measurement is very important while the scientific community is perhaps interested in other parameters e.g., sub-surface biogeochemistry. It was considered important to have some direction on essential parameters that could be dictated at MS and even at EU level. It was also considered crucial to add a focus e.g. EU Green Deal or energy transition to help define gaps and to design the required levels of observations that are required.

    ZK referred to the community recommendations from the Ocean Observing event and reporting requirements for specific monitoring requests like MSFD, Habitats Directive, Water Directive, etc. She noted these requirements are considered to form only a part of the monitoring that the MS’s do. The Commission is currently not in the position to dictate wider monitoring efforts at the level of the MS. She stressed that the aim of the initiative is to allow synergies between different communities but the Commission cannot act upon the overall monitoring.

    QH added he thought the private sector would be interested in the outcomes and implications of a future EU legislation on ocean observation coordination. He stressed it would be good to communicate about the outputs of the transformation within a timeslot of max. 3-5 year, as this is the time span that the private sector operates under.

    GdB suggested that to engage the private sector it would be good to make some linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He noted that industries need to provide information to their shareholders on how their business is positively contributing to meet SDGs and that companies like Van Oord pay consultants e.g. KPMG to assess the business contribution to the UN 2030 Agenda and the SDGs (see an example provided here). He noted that communicating to industry that sharing marine environmental data with the European Commission and EU marine data services e.g., EMODnet, could help the industry in achieving SDG goals would be an incentive to businesses, and viewed as a positive contribution to de-investing in carbon sector and the green transition towards achieving the targets of the EU Green Deal.

    QH considered the EMODnet Sea-basin Checkpoints as a unique and useful methodology to assess data adequacy. He suggested that a market type analysis would be important for EMODnet to assess questions such as who is using EMODnet integrated data, why are they using it, etc. A lot of the reports do not feature usage statistics. It could be an approach to ask big users what they really need?

    GdB mentioned the Commission could perhaps expand the Sea-basin Checkpoints idea and turn them into a proper way to gather demands? An example was given about the difference between the science observations for climate assessments who are not that useful for the private sector but the Checkpoints could consider the scientific user needs.

    ZK thanks EC MKEG members for their comments on the EC Ocean Observation initiative noting that the usefulness of recent consultations was clear and that is may be repeated in the future.

    ZK summed up the discussion that better governance of Europe’s ocean observation capability would in the long-term be more beneficial. It would likely lead to better administration and transparency and would empower nations and communities to engage and be involved. She added the initiative offers an opportunity that creates more visibility for ocean observation, as well as better coordination. On a global level she added the EC and EMODnet ongoing dialogues with IODE of UNESCO and the Ocean Best Practice System (OBPS).

    ZK and Kate Larkin (KL, EMODnet Secretariat), invited MKEG to send further comments on the draft EC Ocean Observation event community recommendations to EC, DG MARE by 15 September COB, to ensure these could be taken into account in the finalisation of the document.

    EMODnet services and progress towards centralisation: Feedback and discussion  

    ZK referred to the EC MKEG Joint session with EMODnet Steering Committee (SC) and Technical Working Group (TWG) on 8th September, and the presentations from each thematic lot and Data Ingestion that had provided updates on EMODnet services and the progress of each thematic towards centralisation of data and data products. She outlined that the centralisation of EMODnet services brought a number of technological challenges and that the centralisation process was going slightly slower than anticipated. She added that nonetheless it was being conducted in a very thorough way and that the user-experience would be improved, reducing the barriers between the initial interface and access to actual data. She highlighted that one of the great improvements being worked upon by the EMODnet Central Portal technical team is the sub-setting so that in the future there will be a more seamless approach where the user can choose the area/region of interest and have access to information directly which improves the user friendliness.

    QH commented that the centralisation process was much needed and would add value to EMODnet services. He noted that American colleagues were really impressed about what EMODnet is doing from an IT-development point of view. He also mentioned that the EMODnet Checkpoints was a unique and well-regarded methodology that he still presented and used as an example for assessing data adequacy, noting a recent interview he had given to a television company. He then suggested that, from his perspective, what was now needed was further communication, bearing in mind that individual people, organisations may respond best to different communication methods. He outlined four key ways to communicate to people, all of which were necessary and could be tailored to specific audiences:

    • Providing a grand vision and goal, e.g., UN Ocean Decade, UN 2030 Agenda;
    • Using logic and explaining the expected return on investment;
    • Explaining a clear added value for individuals, including win-win benefits;
    • Presenting personal testimonies that clearly show the concrete uses.

    According to QH, EMODnet does very well with the grand vision and includes some use cases, but could do even more to communicate the expected return on investment, concrete uses and personal testimonials, to further engage users in particular the private sector.

    Talking further about the need to communicate EMODnet to different audiences, QH recommended the EC and EMODnet Secretariat should also consider two levels of communication:

    • Technical level of communication to people who will use the data;
    • The people that need the marine knowledge but not exactly require the data, the level of governance.

    GdB noted that technical people use online technical platforms to share data code and suggested that more EMODnet data and information on data and web services could be fed it into the online Github community. It’s open Source software. He also mentioned also other Google groups for coastal communities where data is being exchanged e.g.

    It was highlighted by MKEG members in the Webex Chat that EMODnet has a number of resources on GitHub:

    QH suggested that EMODnet ‘product placement’ in various groups would be an interesting experiment. EMODnet could use these online groups where computer coded data is being exchanged and advertise EMODnet to new communities, to increase uptake and impact. 

    ZK asked the EC MKEG members if they thought that if the EC did not support EMODnet whether the market would have created a similar system? QH replied he thought so, but he noted it wouldn’t have looked the same and it would have been perhaps more user-driven from the start, but it would more commercially licensed meaning that some data would remain hidden behind a pay wall.

    ZK also highlighted that EMODnet goes beyond making data accessible and includes data harmonisation and the development and adoption of quality standards. She added this is not always the case in the private market. QH agreed that data standards area crucial element for achieving interoperability and that standards drive efficiency in data access and use.

    GdB gave examples of commercial data services where industry pay high annual fees for 24/7 operational services and help desks. This is something that EMODnet will do for free as a public service.

    Kate Larkin, (KL, EMODnet Secretariat) invited MKEG members to notify the EMODnet Secretariat if there are interesting external events, particularly by the business and blue economy sector. EMODnet was always open to opportunities to connect more with the marine and maritime business and events would be added to the EMODnet Central Portal website events calendar, with a view to increasing the dissemination of information to the wider EMOD-network, and identifying priority events to participate in.

    To conclude, ZK thanked all MKEG members for their contributions and invited MKEG to feedback to EC DG MARE which topics they would most like to discuss, mentioning the work of this group could go further than EMODnet to touch upon issues that are relevant to both marine knowledge and ocean observation.

    Annex I: List of Participants

    MKEG members

    *Present only in MKEG Session 1 (Wednesday 8 September 2021 afternoon)

    ** Present only in MKEG Session 2 (Thursday 9 September 2021 afternoon)


    EC MKEG Participant


    Nicolaus Ernst Erhard Manuel

    Cefas, UK

    Liliana Rusu

    "Dunarea de Jos" University of Galati

    Katarzyna Chojnacka

    Wroclaw university of Science and Technology

    Gerben J De Boer**

    Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors B.V.

    Ana Martos Barba *

    Iberdrola Engineering and Construction

    Fiona Buckley

    Engie lab LABORELEC*

    Julie Macnamara**

    International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP)

    Toste Tanhua**

    GEOMAR Helmholtz centre for Ocean Research Kiel

    Quillon Harpham     

    HR Wallingford, UK

    Anagnopoulos Nikolaos*


    EMODnet Steering Committee and Technical Working Group (Joint session with EC MKEG on 8 September afternoon)

    * Apologies

    EMODnet Thematic portal




    Thierry Schmitt

    SHOM, France

    Dick Schaap

    MARIS, The Netherlands

    Corine Lochet

    SHOM, France

    Gaël Morvan

    SHOM, France


    Henry Vallius

    GTK, Finland

    Bjarni Pjetursson

    GEUS, Finland

    Seabed Habitats

    Mickäel Vasquez

    Ifremer, France

    Helen Lillis

    JNCC, UK

    Graeme Duncan

    JNCC, UK


    Alessandra Giorgetti

    OGS, Italy

    Menashé Eliezer

    OGS, Italy

    Erik Geletti

    OGS, Italy


    Joana Beja

    VLIZ, Belgium


    Patrick Gorringe

    SMHI, Sweden

    Marco Alba

    ETT, Italy

    Antonio Novellino*

    ETT Italy

    Human Activities

    Alessandro Pititto

    COGEA, Italy

    Luigi Falco

    COGEA, Italy

    Data Ingestion

    Dick Schaap

    MARIS, The Netherlands

    Sissy Iona

    HCMR, Greece

    Central Portal

    Joana Beja

    VLIZ, Belgium

    Frederic Leclercq

    VLIZ, Belgium

    Bart Vanhoorne

    VLIZ, Belgium


    Clara Becares

    Bilbomática, Spain

    Natalia Orio Moreno

    Bilbomática, Spain

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Jan-Bart Calewaert

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Kate Larkin

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Francis Strobbe

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Maxime Depoorter

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Conor Delaney

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Tim Collart

    EMODnet  Secretariat

    Nathalie Tonné

    EMODnet  Secretariat

    Julie Auerbach

    EMODnet Secretariat

    Cécile Nys

    EMODnet Secretariat


    Iain Shepherd

    DG MARE A1

    Zoi Konstantinou

    DG MARE A1

    Grigore Rischitor

    DG MARE A1

    Carlos Cerezo

    Dg Mare A1


    Juan Carlos Fernández Gomez


    Lucie Pautet


    Fabrice Pourceau



    Fabienne Jacq


    EC, DG RTD

    Nicolas Segebarth*

    DG RTD

    EC, DG ENV

    David Connor

    DG ENV.