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Citizen Science

Advancing Citizen Science for Seas and Ocean Research


Citizen Science involves members of the public in the observation, analysis and eventually also the design of scientific research. Benefits of this approach include enhancing monitoring capability, empowering citizens and increasing environmental awareness. There is a long background and history of citizen participation in science. However, the process of studying and understanding the best ways to develop, implement, and evaluate Citizen Science is just beginning and it has recently been proposed that research on the process and outcomes of Citizen Science merit acknowledgement as a distinct discipline.

At present, Citizen Science is predominantly associated with terrestrial projects. However, Citizen Science also has the potential to make significant contributions to marine sciences. Considering the vastness of the ocean, the extensiveness of the coastlines, and the diversity of habitats, communities, and species, a proper understanding of this realm requires intensive research activities over time and space which should lead to an increased consideration of Citizen Science as a powerful tool for the generation of scientific knowledge. Additionally, Citizen Science initiatives should be promoted because of their benefits in creating awareness of the challenges facing the world’s ocean and increasing Ocean Literacy.

Responding to these challenges, the European Marine Board launched Working Group Citizen Science in 2015 to provide new ideas and directions for further development of Marine Citizen Science.

The outputs of this working group are a Position Paper titled "Advancing Citizen Science in Coastal and Ocean Research", and a summary Policy Brief titled "Marine Citizen Science: Towards an engaged and ocean literate society". The paper was officially launched at a workshop entitled "Citizen Science and the Future of Coastal Monitoring" during European Maritime Day 2017 on 18-19 May 2017, in Poole, UK, and the policy brief was launched later in 2017. The Position Paper can be downloaded here and the Policy Brief here.

Working Group Objectives

  • Identify common factors of success in Citizen Science programmes
  • Assess the types of marine data that are amenable to collection or analysis by non-specialists
  • Provide recommendations on best practice for incorporating Citizen Science into marine research projects, e.g. how to engage citizens and keep them engaged and how to best meet the expectations of both citizens and scientists
  • Based on the findings, provide overall recommendations for marine research that is most suitable for citizen science, provide new ideas and directions for Marine Citizen Science and outline what is needed to support Citizen Science in a marine context into the future


See the list here

  • Chair - Dr Carlos Garcia-Soto, Spanish Institute of Oceanography, Spain
  • Co-chair  - Gro I. van der Meeren, Institute of Marine Research, Norway

Picture from WG Citizen Science Kick-Off Meeting


Kick-off meeting, 18-19 February 2016, Ostend, Belgium
2nd meeting, 2-3 June 2016, Galway, Ireland

Relevant Events

  • Workshop 'Citizen Science and the Future of Coastal Monitoring' was organised by the European Marine Board and took place on 18 May 2017 at European Maritime Day 2017, in Poole, UK
  • Fifth European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA) conference was held on 7-10 October 2017 in Valetta, Malta
  • Second International European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) Conference will be held on 3-5 June 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland 
  • European Marine Biology Symposium will be held on 17-21 September 2018 in Ostend, Belgium
  • The UN conference on 'Transforming for Sustainability' will be held on 28-29 November 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark

WG contact at Marine Board Secretariat: Paula Kellett Email