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European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet)

A New Year and new dynamic for EMODnet

News article |

Dear EMODnet partners, friends and colleagues,

As we do every year in January, we take stock of what we have achieved the previous year and look forward to what you can expect from us in the coming year. This time we have many updates for you as 2018 was a very productive year for EMODnet, with many achievements in the first full year of the third phase of EMODnet development (2017-2020).

EMODnet’s seven thematic data portals are all fully operational, making an increasing number of data sets and products available for an expanding range of users. The Data Ingestion Portal has become an essential strand of EMODnet’s wide range of services by providing a gateway for public and private data holders who wish to share their data but were previously unable to do so. The EMODnet central portal provides an information hub with a growing range of data services covering all EMODnet themes. In 2018, we also released a major information product - the new data and data product portfolio. This gives a clear and concise overview of the data and products offered by the seven thematic portals.

The release of the upgraded version of the EMODnet Bathymetry Digital Terrain Model (DTM) for the European Seas, which now offers higher resolution, powerful 3D visualization functionality and extended coverage of Europe’s seas, is among the impressive achievements of the data portals this year. EMODnet Biology also launched the Atlas of Marine Life, a new and innovative showcase of key marine biology data products. More accomplishments by the portals will be realised in 2019 with the production, among others, of the EMODnet Chemistry marine litter maps and pan-European vessel density maps by EMODnet Human Activities.

The EMODnet Secretariat also put a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the realisation of two new tasks in 2018. First, the European Atlas of the Seas has undergone an incredible revamp, offering stunning online maps, new features and even more content (more than 200 map layers, with about 100 new map layers provided by EMODnet!). The Secretariat will continue to expand the Atlas’s range of services and features, and amplify the visibility of this valuable resource, now available in 24 official EU languages. For example, we established a partnership with Nausicaà, the biggest aquarium in Europe, to promote and further develop the Atlas as a strong and must-have educational tool. Each week our team produces a communication called “Map of the week” which puts the spotlight on a particular map produced through the Atlas online platform and based mostly on EMODnet data. Second, the Secretariat played a key role in the organisation of the EOOS Conference 2018 together the European Marine Board and EuroGOOS, and with support from DG MARE. It was good to see so many of you at the event in November 2018, which gathered more than 300 participants in Brussels to discuss the future of ocean observing, monitoring and data collection efforts in Europe. A Call to action, launched on the final day of the conference, underlines the inherent value of ocean observing and monitoring for society. It calls on European countries and EU decision makers to assess what is currently being done under their responsibility and to prioritise strategic planning and coordination efforts. A report with highlights and conclusions of the conference will be available in February 2019 on the Central portal. In the meantime, you can watch a  Conference highlights in a 5-minute video. 2018 also marked the end of the EMODnet Sea-basin Checkpoints as they have all completed their ‘data stress tests’. Their findings have been summarised in a Checkpoints report and were presented at the EOOS Conference.

Also new in 2018, the European Commission, with support from the EMODnet Secretariat, organised two meetings of the Marine Knowledge Expert Group (MKEG) to ensure that its marine knowledge programmes, such as EMODnet, better meet the needs of users, in particular in support of the blue economy. These meetings help us to gain a deeper understanding of industry needs and requirements for marine data and how we can make the EMODnet data portals and data products even more user- and service-oriented. Upon the recommendation from the MKEG, we produced an ‘EMODnet for business campaign’ to communicate specifically to the private sector and strengthen our ties with stakeholder organisations and businesses. This involved a tour of European maritime associations, clusters and networks to understand the needs of business and discuss opportunities for industry to share  marine data on the open access EMODnet portals and the benefits for business to easily access data from many sources as well as high quality data products such as maps. In addition, the Secretariat and many of the EMODnet partner organisations participated in a number of business-oriented events such as Oceanology International in March 2018, and wider stakeholder events such as the 4th GEO Blue Planet Symposium. Our communication efforts, whether through events, social media or newsletters, have been successful with an increased visibility of EMODnet to different kinds of stakeholders and industry. We encourage you to join us on Twitter, where we have reached 3170 followers.

During the course of 2018 we welcomed eight new EMODnet Associated Partners to our Network, namely: Esgemar in Spain, Gamma Consulting in Georgia, SeaTopic in France, SOCIB - the Balearic Islands Coastal Ocean Observing and Forecasting System in Spain, HR Wallingford in the UK, MeteOcean research group of the University of Genoa in Italy, Envision Mapping in the UK and RPS Ocean Science. We call upon you all to continue informing us of potential organisations, associations or companies that might be interested in this opportunity. 

New Year, New Secretariat

EMODnet is in the first place a network of people. As we move from the old to the new year, there are also some changes in the Secretariat team. First of all, it is with great pleasure that we welcome Dr Kate Larkin as Deputy Head of the EMODnet Secretariat and Director of Seascape Belgium, who joined the team in January 2019. Kate trained as a marine scientist with a PhD (2006) in deep-sea biogeochemistry from the University of Southampton Ocean and Earth Sciences, U.K. She has over 10 years’ experience working in European marine science and connecting science with policy, industry and wider society. Over the past few years, Kate has been working at the European Marine Board (EMB) Secretariat in Ostend where she led EMB’s activities in ocean observation and marine research infrastructures, including EMB’s contribution to EMODnet Phase III. There is no doubt that her expertise and experience will contribute significantly to our efforts to continue to make EMODnet and the European Atlas of the Seas a growing success.

Kate's arrival is a great addition to our diverse and qualified Secretariat team composed of Pascal Derycke as EMODnet Technical Coordinator, Nathalie Tonné as Project Officer, Andrée-Anne Marsan as Communication and Coordination Officer and Jan-Bart Calewaert as Head of the Secretariat. You can find our contact details of the Secretariat on the Central portal.

A number of other organisations will continue to provide dedicated support for specific activities in the coming year: Bilbomatica from Spain will provide technical & GIS support for the European Atlas of the Seas, European Marine Board will assist with supporting the developments of a European Ocean Observing System (EOOS). Trust-IT will continue to assist with communication, graphic design and web-support.

2019 focus and new opportunities

Under its mandate, the Secretariat will continue to support the network’s overall coordination, progress reporting and promotion. More emphasis will be put on engagement with users and stakeholders and technical coordination with a focus on improving the interoperability between the portals to make EMODnet more fit for purpose and increase its use at national, regional, European and global levels. We will continue our efforts to increase the engagement with the private sector by implementing the EMODnet for business strategy. More attention will also be dedicated to improve the interaction and exchange of information between the different EMODnet projects and collaborators.

In the coming months, we plan on recruiting a new data analyst with GIS expertise to strengthen our Secretariat team in support of EMODnet and European Atlas of the Seas technical coordination work. Keep an eye on our news section on the Central portal for more information soon.

Fond farewells

EMODnet is a large and dynamic network with new people joining and others moving on all the time. However, special mention must be made to three EMODnet ‘ambassadors’ who have moved on over the course of the last year. Belén Martin-Miguez, our former EMODnet Secretariat Senior Science Officer, went back to her homeland, Spain, to take up a position at CETMAR. Although she left, she has been in close contact with the Secretariat in Ostend, among others to support the latter in finalising Deliverables related to the EMODnet Checkpoints. Who knows that one day, EMODnet and CETMAR might set up a collaboration! Simon Claus recently left VLIZ in January 2019 to take on a new opportunity at the Public Employment Service of Flanders as Project leader/expert at the Data Innovation Lab on the usage of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Techniques. Simon has been part of EMODnet since the early days as coordinator of EMODnet Biology and of the Central Portal. We wish him the best of luck and hope to maintain links (maybe at the next Open Sea Lab hackathon!). Last November, we said farewell to Junior Science Officer of the EMODnet Secretariat, Selene Alvarez Peña, who took up a position at the Pew Charitable Trust Office in Brussels. Selene supported the EMODnet communication efforts of the Secretariat to promote the visibility and use of EMODnet and the European Atlas of the Seas.

What about the future?

In 2019, one of the major highlights for EMODnet will be the second EMODnet Open Sea Lab (OSLII) hackathon (4-6 September 2019, Antwerp, Belgium). During three days, teams will compete and bring their expertise to develop innovative solutions and applications to address blue society challenges using EMODnet resources. Developers of the EMODnet portals will provide hands-on support to the participants and will allow us to stress test the system, gaining valuable feedback on how EMODnet could improve its data portals and services for users. OSLII follows the exciting first edition in Antwerp in November 2017. More information will be available by early Spring 2019 on the Open Sea Lab website including a call for challenges. We look forward to connecting to new users, creative minds and developers, and discovering even more concrete examples of EMODnet uses. If you have a use case to share as an illustration of the high relevance and usefulness of EMODnet, we welcome your contribution!

In 2018 we also started the planning and development of a new overarching user centric data service with the aim to ease access to EMODnet data resources as a “all in-one” shopping application, integrating the EMODnet catalogue, map viewer and query tool. We aim to release this new service with a storytelling approach towards the end of 2019.

Finally, we already started planning our 2nd EMODnet Open Conference and Jamboree which will take place in early 2020. This event will bring together all partner organisations and major stakeholders to take stock of where we are and discuss the sustainable future of the network beyond 2020. We hope to see you all there!

Thank you EMODnet Partners

Finally, we take this opportunity to thank all EMODnet project coordinators, Steering Committee members, partners and all other contributors for your relentless efforts to shape EMODnet into what it is today: a growing network of people working together to realise the vision of a pan-European, interoperable, distributed marine data-sharing infrastructure. Because of your efforts, marine and maritime stakeholders recognise EMODnet as an essential service underpinning the EC’s Blue Growth Strategy. Honouring their needs must be our priority if we are to maintain this service over the long run and establish EMODnet as a global example of best practice in providing access to multi-disciplinary marine data and products. We are looking forward to seeing you at EMODnet and related marine and maritime events in 2019.

The EMODnet Secretariat Team

Jan-Bart, Kate, Andrée-Anne, Nathalie and Pascal