Brussels, Belgium: In a bid to tap the potential of oceans and seas that surround Europe, the European Commission (EC) is proposing to create a digital seabed map of European waters by 2020 by collecting all existing data into one coherent database accessible to everyone.
The new seamless multi-resolution digital seabed map of European waters will be of the highest resolution possible, covering topography, geology, habitats and ecosystems. It will be accompanied by access to timely observations and information of physical, chemical and biological state of the water column, by associated data on the impact of human activities, and by oceanographic forecasts. All this will be easily accessible, interoperable and free of restrictions on use. It will be nourished by a sustainable process that progressively improves its fitness for purpose and helps Member States maximise the potential of their marine observation, sampling and surveying programmes.
Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said, “The European economy can benefit from a more structured approach to marine knowledge. This can improve the competitiveness of those working on our seas and coasts by EUR 300 million per year. It can generate new opportunities worth another EUR 200 million a year. The benefits of reduced uncertainty are harder to calculate but we estimate that if we could reduce uncertainty in future sea-level rise by 25 percent a year, we would save those in charge of protecting Europe”s coastlines another EUR 100 million a year. A first set of pilot projects have shown this approach to be feasible. We will build on the lessons learned from these.”
The oceans and seas that surround Europe can provide challenging, rewarding jobs that meet the expectations of our young people. They can provide the clean energy we need if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe. They can provide protein for healthy diets. They can provide pharmaceuticals or enzymes from organisms that inhabit the greatest extremes of temperature, darkness and pressure encountered by life. And they can also respond to the growing global hunger for raw materials from deep-sea mining.