Marine and Arctic Research

DG MARE released the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) which aims at a more coherent European approach to maritime issues to contribute to the creation of sustainable growth and jobs from sea-related activities. The IMP has further been complemented by two communications “Developing a Maritime strategy for the Atlantic Ocean Area” and “Blue Growth: opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth”. Recently, on 27th April 2016, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission released the joint communication to the European parliament “An Integrated European Union Policy for the Arctic”, with the aim to implementing international cooperation in fighting climate change in the Arctic area and in promoting and contributing to sustainable development.

Marine and Arctic Research has been determined a priority field of transatlantic cooperation. In order to launch formally this cooperation, a high-level meeting has been held in May 2013 in Galway, Ireland. The European Union, the United States and Canada formally agreed to join forces on Atlantic Ocean research. The agreement focuses on aligning the ocean observation efforts of the three partners. The goals are to better understand the Atlantic Ocean and to promote the sustainable management of its resources. The work will also study the interplay of the Atlantic Ocean with the Arctic Ocean, particularly with regards to climate change. The EU and its Member States alone invest nearly two billion euro on marine and maritime research each year. The 'Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation' was signed at this high level conference at the Irish Marine Institute in Galway.

The agreement recognises that Atlantic research will in many areas be more effective if coordinated on a transatlantic basis. Areas identified for potential cooperation under the agreement include:

  1. Ocean observation
  2. Sharing of data, such as on temperature, salinity and acidity
  3. Interoperability and coordination of observing infrastructures, such as measurement buoys and research vessels
  4. Sustainable management of ocean resources
  5. Seabed and Benthic habitat mapping
  6. Promoting researcher mobility
  7. Identifying and recommending future research priorities.

Moreover, the DG RTD, since 2014, have been orienting its research programmes more in line with the different DGs. The following areas in marine and arctic research have been determined as very useful for the transatlantic cooperation:

  • Sustainable Atlantic ecosystem approach
  • Sustainable marine food production (fisheries and aquaculture)
  • Innovative uses and conservation of the Atlantic / marine biodiversity (including seabed biological resources)
  • Seabed Critical Raw materials (CRM – seabed mining)

The implementation of the Galway Statement started with the “Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA)”, financed by H2020 Programme, focused on the following areas: ocean observation, marine biotechnology, aquaculture, ecosystems approach and ocean health and stressors, knowledge sharing platforms, shared access to research marine infrastructures, seabed and Benthic habitat mapping, ocean literacy.

Other cooperation projects about marine and arctic research, including EU Member States, US and other governments, are actually on the field, such as AtlantOS and EU-Polarnet.