Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Fifth meeting of the Marine Observation and Data Expert Group (MODEG)

Event date:
05/06/2009 - 17:00
Table of Contents

    The fifth meeting of the Marine Observation and Data Expert Group (MODEG) was held in Brussels on 5 June 2009. Eighteen members of the Group were present - Colpan Beken, Frederique Blanc, Antonio Bode, Jean-François Bourillet, Peter Burkill Hans Dahlin (chairman), Yann-Hervé De Roeck, Robert Gatliff, Neil Holdsworth, François Le Corre, Ilaria Nardello, Lesley Rickards, Dick Schaap, Henry Vallius and Christopher Zimmerman. – Five others Gianna Casazza, Lars Hansen, Ralph Rayner, Manfred Reinke and Anastasios Tselepidis had apologized for their unavoidable absence. Two further experts who had participated in the previous days' meeting on marine projects – Nic Flemming and David Mills stayed on to provided the benefit of their expertise. From the Commission there was Eddy Hartog, Iain Shepherd, Mikko Strahlendorff, Gert Verreet,and Anne-France Woestyn. And from the European Environment Agency, Trine Christiansen. The contractors responsible for the study on costs and benefits – Ian Payne, Stephen Hodgson, Melanie Vilarasau and Peter Van de Velde attended during discussions on this point.



    Include ECOOP in Roadmap glossary Commission Done
    Comment on explanatory diagram of EMODNET by 12 March 2009 MODEG Received from Frederique Blanc
    Ask Geological Survey of Ireland whether Price Waterhouse Coopers cost-benefit study on marine mapping is available Commission Received
    Find out whether EU's research programme could support research into sensors for FerryBoxes Commission Not in first draft of 2010 work programme but might be reconsidered
    Send national classifications of marine sediments to Commission MODEG subgroup on geology and hydrography Received
    One or two members of each MODEG subgroup to May 12 meeting on preparatory actions MODEG (to reply once the outcome of the preparatory action bids is known) Six were present
    Inform MODEG of outcome of discussions with Royal Caribbean Lines on Ferry Boxes Commission Deferred to next meeting
    Invite presentation of WISE-marine for next meeting Commission Done
    Invite presentation on Guardians of the Sea initiative for next meeting Commission Deferred to next meeting
    Circulate draft consultation questionnaire to MODEG once ready Commission Done
    Support MRAG's study on costs and benefits of a better marine infrastructure and provide feedback on questionnaire to be distributed MODEG MRAG reported that they had received good feedback from MODEG



    Those experts who had attended the preparatory action meeting summarized their conclusions:

    1. All lots met requirements and all were willing to collaborate on developing interoperable tools.
    2. The end products of ur-EMODNET will be useful as proofs of concept but a final operational version will require more work. In particular
      1. higher resolution is required for spatial planning
      2. data on more species will be required than are provided by the biological lot
    3. The Commission will need to come up with a follow-up programme otherwise the results will be lost like tears in the rain. The geological lot may be an exception because it is linked to the one-geology Europe exercise.
    4. although the maps will produce gridded or polygon data, it is necessary for users to see the underlying point data
    5. bathymetric grids should give average as well as maximum depth.
    6. Other projects accepting EMODNET standards could become EMODNET portals. ICES might develop a compatible portal for fisheries
    7. The ur-EMODNET does not cover physics because it was assumed that GMES would provide this information. A presentation from the GMES MyOcean project should be invited for the next meeting. Some of MODEG were concerned that GMES would not be able provided the detailed information required near the coast.
    8. ur-EMODNET will almost certainly highlight the lack of information near the North African coast.



    300 stakeholders had replied to the multiple-choice survey which had closed 3 days previously and some had provided additional written material. There were some detailed differences between the replies from different sectors – public authority, private, research – but there was an overall deep dissatisfaction with the status quo and approval of the principles for improvement outlined in the roadmap. The results of the consultation will be progressively published here as their analysis proceeds.




    Monitoring Change in the Atlantic

    The continuous plankton recorder has been towed behind 281 ships at a 10 metre depth since 1931 and is used to estimate the abundance of 400 taxa on a 10nm grid in the Atlantic and North Sea. Sister surveys cover other waters. Peter Burkill showed how these long-term broad scale records enabled the monitoring of change and drew attention to a recent paper indicating a regime change between water surface temperatures of 9 and 10°C.

    The survey costs approximately £1.8 million per year. There are small contributions from France, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway but most of the funding comes from the United Kingdom and North America. 40% requests for data come from countries that are not providing funding. Despite a universal recognition of the value of these measurements, it is always a struggle to secure sustainable funding. The data is backed-up by the British Oceanic Data Centre and OBIS


    EMECO European Marine Ecosystem Observatory

    The European Marine Ecosystem Observatory (EMECO) is a consortium of European Marine Institutes who together aim to provide a strategy and tools to assess changes in the marine ecosystem across borders through a range of instruments. It will analyse data, produce maps and produce prognoses. Since it focuses on the North Sea, it will benefit from all the ur-EMODNET preparatory actions that are producing data layers for this area


    European Atlas of the Seas

    Anne-France Woestyn provided a brief presentation of progress on an on-line European Atlas of the Seas whose aims are to raise public awareness of maritime issues, clarify the spatial dimension of EU maritime legislation and promote the identity of maritime basins. A prototype will be ready by December 2009. It can act as a viewer for some EMODNET information but, unlike EMODNET, it is not set up for data downloads. The division of sea-basins is based on FAO areas that are broadly similar but not identical to those used in the ur-EMODNET.


    Marine Strategy Framework Directive

    Deadlines for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive are approaching quickly. By July 2012 Member States will need to establish environmental targets and indicators to measure progress towards reaching those targets. There is some emphasis on establishing relationships between pressure and state. Biological indicators are more challenging than chemical ones. JRC and ICES are engaged in a study to develop them

    biodiversity JRC
    non-indigenous species JRC
    fish populations JRC and ICES (co-lead)
    food web ICES
    eutrophication JRC
    sea-floor ICES
    contaminants (vs. effects) JRC
    contaminants (vs. food standards) DG Health and Consumers (DG SANCO)
    energy (noise) ICES

    Gert Verreet showed how different administrative levels shared responsibility for achieving targets. It will be necessary to clarify exactly who does what.

    Strategy elements Art. 8 Art. 9 Art. 10 Art. 11 Art. 13
      Initial Assessment Determining 'good environmental status' Setting environmental targets and indicators Monitoring Programme Programme of Measures
    National level XXX XXX XXX XXX XXX
    Regional level XX XX X ? XX X ?
    EU-wide X: ‘social and economic’ aspects XX: common criteria and methods X ? - X ?
      XX: common reporting (data, information and knowledge sharing across countries and regions)        




    Study on costs, benefits and legal basis

    The study had been running for 3 months and data was still being collected so conclusions are still very patchy.

    Although information from some organisations has arrived, it has still not yet been possible to determine what Member States are spending on monitoring as a whole. Information on the costs of using data is also very limited – with very little from the private sector. The cost of uncertainty in sea-level rise focused on the three hot-spots – Venice, London and the Netherlands. The analysis is showing the sophisticated way that engineers take uncertainty into account and the potential benefits of narrowing the uncertainty basis.

    The legal analysis is more complete. Although there is no mention of a maritime policy in the EU treaties, there are a number of options for developing an operational EMODNET.

    The Commission will forward the next version of the report to the Expert Group for comments.


    Formal impact assessment

    The Commission distributed an early draft of the EMODNET impact assessment that needs to be submitted by 22 June, 2009. The main objectives are

    1. to reduce operational costs and delays for those who use marine data and therefore help private industry compete in the global economy and meet the challenge of sustainability; improve the quality of public decision-making at all levels and strengthen marine scientific research
    2. to increase competition amongst users of marine data by widening and accelerating access to quality-checked coherent marine data;
    3. to reduce uncertainty in knowledge of the oceans and the seas and so provide a sounder basis for managing inevitable future changes.

    And the main options are for the commission to provide a sustainable funding for

    1. assembling data in a manner similar to what is being done in the ur-EMODNET projects
    2. assembling data but also collecting more

    The assessment will not favour one or the other option but will aim to assess the costs and benefits of each.

    MODEG were broadly happy with the main arguments and provided a number of detailed suggestions to the draft text. They indicated that in principle better competition was a good thing but some researchers would not be motivated to collect data if they did not have first call on it. The Commission asked MODEG to provide further material – particularly peer-reviewed articles showing which uncertainties could be reduced with more measurements.



    Ongoing Inform MODEG of outcome of discussions with Royal Caribbean Lines on Ferry Boxes MARE
      Invite presentation on Guardians of the Sea initiative for next meeting MARE
    New Provide feedback on impact assessment MODEG
      Distribute revised interim report by MRAG on costs of producing and using marine data MARE
      Invite presentation of marine research strategy MARE
      Provide more information on ur-EMODNET lots MARE
      Invite presentation on marine core strategy and MyOcean MARE


    NEXT MEETINGS The next two meetings will be:

      30 September- 1 October

      In the week beginning 23 November following the preparatory action meetings (possibly in Copenhagen or Oostende)