European Marine Board calls for more coherent biological ocean observations in Europe | Flanders Marine Institute

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European Marine Board calls for more coherent biological ocean observations in Europe

Added on 2018-08-08
The latest Future Science Letter No. 3 from the European Marine Board (EMB) - entitled "Strengthening Europe's Capability in Biological Ocean Observations" - reflects the vision of a strategic pan-European forum on the current (and future) capacity and relevance of biological observations in the European seas. In contrast to chemical and physical observations, observation networks on biological parameters in Europe do not appear to be highly organized. There is often a lack of coordination between measurement systems and observations can not be integrated optimally. A multifunctional, well-integrated biological ocean observation system will strongly promote the biological knowledge of seas and oceans - in Europe and worldwide. Something of great importance for maintaining a healthy ocean for a healthy society.

Photo: International agreements on variables and standards must ensure better integration of biological data, so that comparison is possible worldwide. © SAMS (Scottish Association for Marine Science)

According to the authors of the Future Science Briefing no.3 (nominated by renowned European marine research institutions, funding agencies and university consortia) Europe lacks a multifunctional, well-integrated biological ocean observation system. The recommendation is to develop a strategic vision and to increase the relevance of the current biological ocean observation capacity, so that the observations can achieve different ecological and societal goals. Europe must therefore bring together all key players and stakeholders and, in the long term, support an integrated biological ocean observation system. As is already the case with chemical and physical observations, also the biological monitoring observations will be able to contribute substantially to the European Ocean Observation System (EOOS), which is harmonized with the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).  

Today, the European marine scientific community is already using a wide range of infrastructures, tools and techniques for biological ocean observation. These range from marine stations and taxonomic analyzes, to autonomous sensors, hydrophones, animal platforms, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and omics technologies. So it is not starting from scratch, but there is a great need for more coordination.

Supporting the current biological ocean observation capacity, especially in the area of ??taxonomic expertise and the use of new emerging technologies, data science and management seems to be a top priority. Francisco Hernandez, manager of the VLIZ data center and co-author of the present vision document, emphasizes: "For VLIZ and the Flemish marine scientists, the continued support of LifeWatch Belgium and EMODNET biology is indispensable to build up further taxonomic expertise as well as to be able to continue using new technologies, and to continue our qualitative data science and management. With the support of these two major initiatives, VLIZ has all the high-tech aspects of marine biological research already in house, from observation to data product. What we still miss are good international agreements about the variables to be measured and the standards to be applied, so that we can also optimally integrate the generated data with other European initiatives."

The Future Science Briefing no.3 is the result of a collaboration between a group of experts nominated by EMB members, and was led by Lisandro Benedetti-Cecchi (University of Pisa, Italy) and Tasman Crowe (University College Dublin, Ireland). On the EMB website, the pdf of the Future Science Briefing No.3 can be downloaded, as well as a fact sheet for policy makers.


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