Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Tenth meeting of marine observation and data expert group

Event date:
28/09/2010 - 14:30 to 29/09/2010 - 12:30
Table of Contents

    This was the last meeting of the Expert Group in its first configuration. It was attended by Jean-François Bourillet, Peter Burkill, Hans Dahlin, Yann-Hervé De Roeck, Neil Holdsworth, Lesley Rickards, Dick Schaap and Henry Vallius. Simon Claus, Abigail McQuatters-Gollop and David Mills attended as guests and Iain Shepherd and Raf Deroo represented the Commission.

    The primary purpose of the meeting was to understand better the usability of data assembled through EMODnet for calculating indicators of ecological status.

    EMECO - Knowledge from Data

    David Mills showed how the EMECO system for monitoring the North Sea and Irish Sea works. It collects data from different sources and processes them into information that environmental authorities can use. Much effort has been devoted to ensuring that the information is in the right format for their use and providing estimates of confidence. As well as providing useful information, the tool can also indicate which observations are most useful for providing the indicators. Thus the underlying observation system can be pulled by policy needs rather than pushed by scientific capability as it is to a certain extent today.

    There were some comments about the flow diagram used to illustrate how EMECO works but general agreement that the approach was useful. The Commission said that it was very similar to the sea-basin checkpoint concept that should be financed by the new Financial Regulation on maritime policy (COM(2010) 494 of 29 September 2010). Pilots will be set up for the North Sea, then the Mediterranean then the Baltic during the period 2011-2013. The contractors will be asked to construct indicators and products from data assembled through EMODnet, GMES the Data Collection Framework and other sources.

    Calculating trends from heterogeneous datasets

    Abigail McQuatters-Gollop illustrated how difficult it is to calculate trends using heterogeneous datasets. She used two datasets – an ICES dataset collected between 1902 and 1912 and records from the Continuous Plankton Recorder collected from 1948 to the present. Although the painstaking comparisons and cross-checks uncovered some taxonomic misidentifications in the older dataset she was able to identify changes in community during the time in question and provide reasoned hypotheses to explain them.

    Obtaining diversity and abundance from OBIS database – the way forward

    Simon Claus showed how data stored in the OBIS database which was created through the Census of Marine Life project and used within the EMODnet preparatory actions can be used for calculating marine biodiversity. His first example was the paper "Global patterns and predictors of marine biodiversity across taxa" which had been published in Nature earlier in year. The coastal fish distribution had been derived from OBIS. The second example wss from the Continuous Plankton Recorder. This confirmed two findings from the previous presentation. (1) It is extremely difficult and time consuming to compare measurements from more than one measurement campaign and (2) the Continuous Plankton Recorder is an International Treasure and must be maintained.


    Eutrophication of the sea occurs when the sea is overfertilised with nutrients. This can cause some unpleasant effect such as overproduction of algae and the loss of oxygen. However there is no one instrument that can measure eutrophication; it must be deduced from other parameters. Neither is there one agreed way to calculate it from these other parameters or to estimate how many of the observed impacts are caused by human activity. However the regional sea conventions such as OSPAR and HELCOM have come up with definitions that suit their local conditions. David Mills showed that in a benchmark exercise for the North Sea, different laboratories came up with very different results for oxygen content and eutrophication. Two messages from his presentation were (1). We need to pay more attention to measuring riverine fluxes and 2) it is premature to suggest the use of one European reference model for eutrophication. The diversity of results is a healthy reminder of uncertainty.

    Marine Knowledge 2020

    The Commission adopted the "marine knowledge 2020" Communication on 8 September 2010. It will be accompanied by a proposal for a financing regulation in 2011-2013 for an integrated maritime policy. The Commission proposal is that 45% of the funding, or €22,500,000 in total, will be allocated to the consolidation of the European Marine Observation and Data Network, EMODnet. Most of this will be extension of the geographic range of the thematic assembly groups but there will also be €3 million devoted to the sea basin checkpoints described earlier in the meeting. The proposal will now go to Council and Parliament. Because the subject is rather technical, it is essential that those who will be voting on the proposal are well informed and that MODEG members and their colleagues be prepared to answer questions.


    The Commission then provided more detail of how it intended to spend this budget. The budget is spread across three years. The starting dates of the proposed new projects depend on the maturity of the ongoing preparatory actions. Lessons learned will feed into the new projects.

    Next meeting

    The next meetings of the Expert Group wil lbe 29-30 November

    28 September 2010, JREY in Berlaymont Building, Rue de la Loi, 200, Brussels
    14.00 Welcome
    14.05 Actions from last meeting

    EMECO –integrated monitoring for integrated assessments

    Dave Mills and Remi Laane 


    Biodiversity measurements across multiple heterogeneous observations

    Abigail McQuatters-Gollop

    15.30 Coffee
    16.00 Obtaining diversity and abundance from OBIS database – the way forward
    17.30 Close
    evening Pizza for those who are interested
    29 September 2010, Room L130/B Floor 11, Rue de la Loi, 130, Brussels
    9.00 Welcome

    Data needs for eutrophication modelling in North Sea



    Marine Knowledge 2020 (will be adopted by Commission on 8 September) and Financial Regulation for Maritime Policy (will be adopted third week in September)

    Reaction of Friends of Presidency (meeting 23 September)

    10.30 Coffee
    11.00 Plans for 2011-2013
    MARE have already distributed proposal and have had some reactions. Revised version will be presented before the meeting
    12.30 Close