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Maritime Forum

EMODnet PHASE II - Final progress report 09/2016-09/2017

The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet), funded by the european Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) has reached the end of development Phase II (2013-2017). There is now a central portal providing access to data portals covering bathymetry, geology, physics, chemistry, biology, habitats and human activities in European seas. Thematic data portals, a coastal mapping project and a complete set of six sea-basin checkpoints are coordinating their activities through a Steering Committee supported by the EMODnet Secretariat. Most recently, a portal was established to guide data holders who are not yet contributing their data to share it using open repositories. This post provides a summary of progress made in the final year of EMODnet Phase II.

Below you can find a summary of the main achiements and progress made. The Full report can be donwloaded here: AnnualEMODnetProgressReport.pdf

Main achievements in final year Phase II (09/2016 till 09/2017)

  • Consolidation of the Arctic, Atlantic, Baltic and Black Sea Sea-basin Checkpoints with significant progress presented in their first Adequacy Reports. These reports were first discussed with Experts Panels for each sea-basin and further considered during the EMODnet Stakeholder Conference (see point below).

  • Successful organisation of the EMODnet Stakeholder Conference and Sea-basin Workshops (14-15 February 2017, Brussels), giving the opportunity to present the Sea-basin Checkpoints findings to more than 150 stakeholders and discuss recommendations on how to better meet the needs of marine data users.

  • Strengthening of the links between EMODnet and initiatives such as MSFD and MSP. Both the Secretariat and the Thematic lots coordinators participated in several meetings and conferences where EMODnet’s role in helping with the implementation of both directives was discussed.

  • Much more active presence of EMODnet on social media including Twitter and increased visibility through regular communication via the Central Portal, as well as thanks to the release of new communication material (infographics and the Annual Report).

  • Consolidation of EMODnet as a reference amongst stakeholders within and beyond the monitoring and observation communities, with specific efforts undertaken to reach the private sector.

  • Strengthening of cross-lot collaboration: the exchange of information between lots has increased and is now facilitated by the Secretariat. Some extensions of the EMODnet intranet have been implemented for that purpose. Thematic lots meetings are now open to participation of partners from other lots and several coordinators have attended other lots kick-off meetings. There is also joint cross-thematic work on-going in the framework of EMODnet Data Ingestion.

  • Successful collaborative work achieved within the EMODnet Technical Working Group which has enabled the implementation of a Map Viewer and EMODnet Products Catalogue on the Central Portal. The Technical Working Group also enabled progress towards establishing a new progress monitoring system and a shared user identification system using Marine-ID.

  • Creation of an EMODnet Data Ingestion Portal to guide data holders who do not yet contribute to the EMODnet data repositories to share their data.

Main highlights in final year Phase II (09/2016 till 09/2017)

  • September 2016: End of EMODnet Phase II and submission of final reports from the different Thematic lots to DG MARE. The reports were evaluated and suggestions for changes were implemented before final approval.

  • September 2016: The MedSea Checkpoint held its final Annual Meeting in Bologna, which included an important training session on SEXTANT, the marine data infrastructure supporting the assessment work undertaken by this Checkpoint.

  • September 2016/October 2017: EMODnet partners and the Secretariat increase efforts to reach the private sector and further involve them both as users of EMODnet data and products and as contributors of data. Several workshops were organized with representatives of private companies (Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference in Dublin, SeaTech Week in Brest).

  • October 2017: Release of the latest version of the Bathymetry global Digital Terrain Model (DTM), with an increase of 10% in the number of data sources used to produce the maps coming from 31 data holders in 18 different countries.

  • October 2017: Period of intense reporting for the Checkpoints. The North Sea checkpoint submitted its final report, whilethe Arctic, Atlantic, Baltic and Black Sea were in different stages of preparation and submission of their first Data Adequacy Reports.

  • November 2016: creation of an EMODnet Associated Partner category to encourage the participation of institutions which are not project partners, but have an interest on EMODnet activities and can contribute to them.

  • November/December 2016: The Atlantic, Baltic and Black Sea Checkpoints presented their first Adequacy Reports to a panel of experts. These experts represented different stakeholder communities, including scientists as well as the private sector and public bodies. The results of those meetings were submitted as Expert Panel Reports and will be taken into account in the continuation of the projects.

  • December 2016: EMODnet forged links with the private sector on the occasion of the Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS) in Rotterdam,where the Secretariat gave a presentation and took part of a panel.

  • January 2017: The award of contracts corresponding to EMODnet Phase III Lots 1-6 (Geology, Seabed Habitats, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Human Activities) was communicated.

  • January 2017: Interaction between the Checkpoints, DG MARE and the Secretariat to distil the most important messages stemming from the Data Adequacy Reports and Expert Panel Reports in preparation of the EMODnet Stakeholder Conference (to be held in February 2017)

  • February 2017: The first EMODnet Stakeholder Conference and Sea-basin Workshops took place at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts in Brussels, Belgium presenting the findings of the EMODnet Checkpoints to more than 150 participants (Conference Report and other materials are available at

  • February 2017: Final results and recommendations of the Coastal Mapping project presented at a European Parliament event entitled “Mapping EU’s coasts: A key towards sustainable Blue Development”, addressing the importance of coastal bathymetric data for marine activities.

  • March 2017: Presentation ofEMODnet to an EU-Chinese delegation in Bruges in the context of the EU China Blue Year. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the status of marine science and data in Europe and China as well as to consider areas for closer cooperation with China during the EU-China Blue Year and beyond.

  • March 2017-May 2017: All the thematic lots held their kick-off meetings during this period, with few changes in terms of partners participating, even though some of the lead partners have changed. In particular, EMODnet HRSM/Bathymetry is now coordinated by the French Hydrographic Office (SHOM), Seabed Habitats by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Geology is now lead by GTK-Geological Survey of Finland.

  • March 2017: Launching of a revamped HRSM/Bathymetry portal coinciding with their Kick-off meeting in Venice, Italy.

  • April 2017: Numerous representation of EMODnet thematic lots and Checkpoints during the European Geophysical Union Assembly in Vienna with several EMODnet talks and posters presented.

  • May 2017: Release of the first EMODnet Infographics, which provides an attractive overview of EMODnet, its mission, strands, timeline and benefits.

  • May 2017: Most of EMODnet thematic groups met in Limassol, Cyprus, on the occasion of the EMODnet Data Ingestion partner meeting where they identified data sets for ingestion and safe-keeping

  • May 2017: Successful representation of EMODnet at the European Maritime Day 2017 in Poole, UK. EMODnet, together with the COLUMBUS project, co-organised a workshop on Blue Growth Data Challenge and Engaging with Industry.

  • June 2017: Release of the first EMODnet Annual Report for a wider public, describing the different components of the network and showing progress in each of the EMODnet strands.

  • July 2017: 2nd EMODnet Technical Working Group Meeting, with significant progress towards the consolidation of the EMODnet Central Portal Catalogue as well as the EMODnet Geoviewer.

  • August 2017: Drafting of the EMODnet Visual Identity Guidelines, to be discussed at the Steering Committee which will contribute to the harmonization of the EMODnet thematic portals and is key to support the communication activities performed by the different thematic groups and to consolidate the EMODnet branding.

  • August 2017: Definition of an action plan for piloting the new EMODnet monitoring system, which will allow for a more clear and comparable statistics of portals performance.

  • September 2017: Release of the EMODnet Geoviewer containing layers from every thematic portal and allowing for their multiple visualization and combination.

  • September 2017: First steps towards making available shipping density maps in EMODnet Human Activities portal. A meeting was conveyed by DG MARE to explore ways of using data from AIS anti-collision systems for that purpose.

EMODnet Central Portal

EMODnet Central Portal has consolidated as the preferred gateway to give access to the thematic and sea basin activities. But more importantly, it has become the showcase of EMODnet, evolving from a relatively static portal, to a dynamic instrument providing timely information about EMODnet developments. The portal has experienced layout changes to accommodate new sections such as the “News Overview” and the “Events”. These sections have helped making the entry page of the Central Portal a more attractive and user-friendly point of access to EMODnet information.

In addition to that, the Central Portal Data Services have been enlarged and two important new components are now in place: the Product Catalogue and the Map Viewer. Both are important advances to improve the visibility of EMODnet and to provide a more comprehensive vision of what EMODnet offers. Up to now, users had to go to each individual portal to find and retrieve what they were looking for. That situation has changed now, the catalogue provides a glimpse on EMODnet products which have a pan-European coverage, regardless the theme, and the map viewer enables the superposition of data layers from the EMODnet thematic portals.

The Central Portal becomes also instrumental to give visibility to EMODnet-related events such as the EMODnet Stakeholder Conference, and more recently the Open Sea Lab competition, hosting specific webpages for those events.

Specific progress & achievements of the Sea-basin Checkpoints

Between September 2016 and 2017 the North Sea and the Mediterranean Checkpoints ended their contracts, while the other four Checkpoint projects covering the Baltic, the Artic, Atlantic and the Black Sea made significant progress producing their first important deliverable: the Data Adequacy Report. The Data Adequacy Reports summarize the work developed by each of the teams facing the challenges. This work implies a literature survey to collect existing marine datasets and metadata which can be relevant to face the challenge, the design of an assessment method with indicators and the application of that method to evaluate how fitness for use the compiled data were when trying to develop the challenge outputs. The Checkpoints have made an effort to present the different aspects of the workflow in their respective webpages were. Those webpages contain general information about the projects and method, as well as access to reports and outputs from the challenges, but it also allows for a more interactive way of presenting the results to the visitor. Indeed many of the Checkpoints have implemented a service in their web pages where users can have access to the indicators that they have used for their data adequacy reports. The Sea-basin Checkpoints were also heavily involved in the preparation of the EMODnet Stakeholder Conference (see section 5.1). The Checkpoint coordinators mobilised their stakeholders to participate in the conference and organised the break-out workshops. In addition to that, in preparation of the event, they distilled the most important messages from the Data Adequacy Report into a number of thematic reports, which could be used to foster the discussion in a more structured way.

EMODnet Data Ingestion Service

The EMODnet Data Ingestion Data Ingestion Project guides data holders who do not yet contribute to the EMODnet data repositories, through a two-step process where they must submit their marine data along with a submission form providing some specific information. Their data are assigned to a data centre, responsible for their subsequent processing and curation, in dialogue with the data holder. At the end of the process, original data will be fit for long-term storage and stewardship in appropriate existing repositories and will be made accessible through EMODnet thematic portals. A help-service is also available to answer questions from data providers.

During this period considerable efforts were devoted to building the EMODnet Data Ingestion portal including all facilities needed so that data providers can submit their data such as the Data Submission service and the Help desk service. It also includes sections on Use Cases, News and Promotional material. The portal was launched early February 2017 and provided an attractive interphase which could also be directly accessed through the EMODnet Central Portal. In addition to that, all EMODnet thematic portals included a reference to the advantages of contributing data to EMODnet with a link to the Data Ingestion portal which considerably increased the number of visits.

Data Ingestion Project not only assists those interested in submitting data but also actively seeks for sources of data and encourages potential contributors. As part of the process of identification of potential data providers, a first inventory per country has been compiled, covering 26 countries and 466 potential data sources which the project will attempt to access in the following months. This has relied greatly on the cooperation and synergy within the EMODnet community which was involved in this identification process. It has also implied producing and distributing promotion material to encourage potential contributors (preparation of bookmarks and a promotional video and several presentations in Conferences).

EMODnet Stakeholder Conference

On 14 and 15 February 2017, approximately 150 marine data experts and users gathered in Brussels at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Arts for the first EMODnet Stakeholder Conference, held together with a series of Sea-basin Workshops. Participants considered whether marine data collected via current observation and monitoring activities in Europe effectively served the needs of users. The Checkpoints develop different methods to assess those activities, and the Conference was an occasion to showcase the results of their work to date, highlighting where they had identified major gaps. The Conference lasted one and half day, with a series of plenary and break-out sessions. The plenary sessions included a number of keynote presentations and panel discussions. Considerable preparatory work was done by the Checkpoints coordinators, in particular to present their results in a harmonized way to facilitate the discussions at the Plenary. Coordinators summarised the results of the stress-test according to the seven EMODnet themes and a compilation of “key findings” per theme were distributed to attendees of the conference. During the break-out sessions, each of the Checkpoints hosted a regional Sea-basin Stakeholder Workshop, presenting the main findings of their Data Adequacy Reports to the participants.

Special efforts have been done to make sure that all results of the Conference can be accessible in the future. With this purpose, there is a specific section in the Central Portal, with all the information concerning the Conference (programme, presentations, photos, Conference report). In addition to that, videos with testimonials from the Checkpoint coordinators and other participants are also available in the same section ( A Stakeholder Conference Report has been produced which describes the event and condenses the conference outcomes and recommendations, including those from the break-out and plenary sessions. The Conference report is downloadable and hard-copies have been distributed widely.

This final report is part of the EMODnet Secretariat obligations under contract EASME/EMFF/2015/