EMB Position Paper 19: Linking Oceans and Human Health | Marinebiotech


EMB Position Paper 19: Linking Oceans and Human Health

Published 26 March 2014

Understanding and dealing with the many complex relationships between the marine environment and human health, is the subject of a new position paper from the European Marine Board.

In his foreword to the European Marine Board Position Paper 19, Prof Kostas Nittis, the EMB Chair mentions “There has been a growing recognition within the scientific community of the need for a more holistic and coherent approach to understanding the complex links between the seas and oceans on one hand, and human health and well-being on the other. Extreme weather events such as coastal storms and flooding, and human exposure to marine-borne pathogens and chemical pollution, pose significant threats to human health. At the same time, the seas provide numerous benefits to human health and well-being in the form of ecosystem services, including the supply of resources such as food and raw materials. Biotechnology is opening opportunities to exploit marine genetic resources with potential for new drugs and nutraceuticals. Research is also beginning to identify the mental health benefits of interacting with the coastal environment. Understanding this complexity can only be achieved with an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from expertise across a diverse range of disciplines within natural, social and economic sciences, public health and medicine”.

It was against this background, and with a view to developing a more strategic approach to addressing the many issues highlighted by the EMB position paper, a workshop on Oceans and Human Health was held in Cornwall, UK on 20-21 March 2014. Experts from a diverse range of scientific disciplines gathered in Cornwall to discuss a more coordinated approach to addressing the complex linkages between the marine environment and human health. The two-day science-policy event was co-organized by the European Marine Board and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health. Building on the messages of EMB Position Paper 19: Linking Oceans and Human Health, the workshop supported a multidisciplinary brainstorming on future scientific and strategic priorities in this area as a crucial next step towards developing a coordinated Ocean and Human Health research effort in Europe.

The mixed gathering of scientists, policymakers and representatives of research funding agencies, will deliver a strategy statement which will be actively communicated amongst a broad and relevant audience in Europe and beyond. In early June 2014, the EMB will also participate in a Gordon Research Conference in Oceans and Human Health in Maine, USA, where the EMB position paper and outputs of the Cornwall workshop will be further communicated.

The EMB position paper can be downloaded from the EMB website and from the MarineBiotech library.