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Strengthening Europe's Capability in Biological Ocean Observations (Future Science Brief)

Europe lacks a multi-purpose integrated biological ocean observing system. The Future Science Brief recommends building an integrated biological ocean observation system, while supporting current capacity.

Enhancing and supporting the European biological ocean observing capacity will:

  • bring benefits to society by underpinning sustainable management of human activity in the marine environment (CFP, WFD); 
  • strengthen the implementation of the marine biodiversity conservation (CBD) and good environmental status assessment (MSFD);
  • meet user needs and requirements for MSP by promoting the development of an integrated system; and
  • assess progress against national and international conservation targets (e.g. Aichi Targets from the Convention on Biological Diversity), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Blue Growth agenda.

Europe needs a strategic vision on biological ocean observations to increase the relevant biological ocean observation capacity, and bring together key stakeholders, to provide the long-term support for an integrated ocean observing system that contributes to the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) and harmonized with the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).

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July 2018

Training the 21st Century Marine Professional: A new vision for marine graduate education and training programmes in Europe (Future Science Brief)

As the Ocean continues to be a focus for development in Europe through the European Commission’s Blue Growth initiative and through the Blue Economy, the importance of the marine and maritime industries will continue to grow. The knowledge, experience and innovative ideas needed to enable this development will be largely supplied by future marine professionals, or the marine graduates of today. Subsequently, the envisioned growth will require a skilled workforce of highly training and multi-skilled graduates from a wide variety of marine and maritime professional backgrounds. In addition, less established areas such as marine biotechnology and marine renewable energy may require new knowledge, skills, collaboration and innovation.

It is therefore timely to examine the current marine graduate education and training system, identifying issues, challenges and opportunities. This Future Science Brief explores this complex landscape, to better understand the current status of education systems, and research and training funding mechanisms. It then looks at options to improve current capabilities across Europe at both Masters and Doctoral levels, and outlines a vision for the future of marine and maritime education and training in Europe. Case studies are presented to illustrate good practice, alongside interviews with recent marine graduates who have themselves benefitted from innovative training opportunities. The Future Science Brief then identifies ways in which to improve and broaden the skills and capabilities of the next generation of graduates. This includes enabling exposure to industry, encouraging interdisciplinary research and promoting the importance of transferable skills to graduates and industry alike. It closes by presenting 6 key recommendations for the future development of marine graduate training in Europe, and calls for collaboration between key actors from the marine education community, the marine and maritime industries, and research funding to come together to jointly develop an education and training system which will benefit all.

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April 2018

6th Forum Message

Informed by the discussions which took place at the 6th EMB Forum event in December 2017 on "Implementing the UN 2030 Agenda: What role for marine science?” , this Forum Message highlights the needs for marine science to be at the core of the ocean governance debate, and also presenting 8 specific commitments that EMB is making to underpin those needs and support future development. The main message of the Forum was that the role of marine science should be to provide a solid and sound evidence base to enable science-based societal debate on the future direction of ocean governance. Speakers, panelists and attendees alike also highlighted the importance of integration, moving away from silo thinking and towards greater collaboration among stakeholders to address the upcoming challenges. They also added to the growing voice calling for greater engagement of marine science with society, and improved ocean literacy. These messages have been presented in the Forum Message, and are further supported by the specific commitments EMB is making to support their implementation.

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January 2018

Marine Citizen Science: Towards an engaged and ocean literate society (policy brief)

Marine Citizen Science is an area which is rapidly gaining interest, and it’s easy to see why. Citizen Science is where scientists and the general public collaborate to co-generate greater knowledge and understanding of the natural world. For the marine environment, the applications are as varied as the ocean itself. Involving the general public in marine scientific research can bring the vast ocean closer to home, explaining its wonders and raising awareness of the challenges it faces, making Marine Citizen Science a powerful tool in striving for a truly ocean literate society. The wide variety of data amenable to Marine Citizen Science, along with advances in technology, also mean that there is a project for everyone. More than just as a means for education, Citizen Science is also a means to empowerment. Co-operation between science and society can enable the collection and analysis of data on much larger scales of time, space and sheer numbers than would be possible for science alone. This is turn can provide a concrete scientific basis of evidence which can inform and guide marine policy to truly make a difference.

This policy brief answers the question “Why Marine Citizen Science?”, and presents the wide scope of applications in marine science research. It also looks at future opportunities with regard to the use of technology, as well as highlighting the potential for Marine Citizen Science to be a tool for marine policy. It finishes by presenting recommendations going forward, as both short- and long-term action areas, to ensure that Marine Citizen Science can continue to progress in Europe.

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October 2017

Marine Biotechnology: Advancing Innovation in Europe’s Bioeconomy (policy brief)

Marine biotechnology is a fast growing Blue Growth area with revenue in Europe predicted to reach €1 billion by 2020. Products and applications are highly diverse, spanning food production, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and wider medical applications. The success of future growth relies on scientific knowledge spanning the marine, life and wider sciences. And it all starts in the ocean. This Policy Brief showcases the latest scientific and technological advancements in marine biotechnology and highlights why knowledge of our marine ecosystems and biodiversity are crucial for driving future innovation. It also presents examples of commercial applications of marine biotechnology, the resulting high-value products and services and examples of other European projects and initiatives that are seeking to streamline the marine biotechnology pipeline. The Policy Brief is a collaboration between the European Marine Board and the European Marine Biotechnology (MBT) ERA-NET, following the publication in 2016 of the ERA-MBT Marine Biotechnology Strategic and Innovation Roadmap: Insights to the future direction of European marine biotechnology.

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September 2017

Advancing Citizen Science for Coastal and Ocean Research (Position Paper)

In Citizen Science, members of the general public collaborate with scientists to generate and use data relating to the natural world. For the many fields of marine research, this is a particularly powerful approach which should not be overlooked. The sheer scale of coastal and ocean environments mean that it would take several lifetimes for scientists to study them alone. By collaborating with citizens, a much greater number of people can be mobilized to gather a wealth of data and develop new scientific knowledge and understanding. The variety of data types which are amenable to Citizen Science, as outlined in the position paper, are great, meaning that there could be a project to suit everyone. Citizen Science can also enable participants to improve their Ocean Literacy, gain new skills and experiences, and can also empower them to participate in the process of delivering future marine policy.

Now, more than ever, marine science research is needed to understand the impacts of a world undergoing change. The rise of Marine Citizen Science to help address this need is therefore timely. This paper highlights opportunities, challenges and best practice in Marine Citizen Science, and sets out a list of high-level strategic recommendations for the future development of Marine Citizen Science in Europe. It presents examples of existing Marine Citizen Science initiatives in Europe to illustrate good practice. Common concerns such as data quality and maintaining engagement are discussed, as are future opportunities such as increased use of technology and potential role of Marine Citizen Science in informing marine policy and conservation. The paper closes with a list of high-level strategic recommendations for the future development of Marine Citizen Science in Europe.

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May 2017

Decommissioning of offshore man-made installations: Taking an ecosystem approach (policy brief)

We are entering a legacy era for the offshore oil and gas industry. As operations ramp down, could scientific evidence hold the key to reducing economic cost and environmental impact of full decommissioning? This Policy Brief assesses the role of marine science in reducing the environmental impact of decommissioning and highlights the scientific questions that now need to be answered to settle the debate on what should be done with these structures.

Recent estimates suggest that there are currently around 1,350 oil and gas installations in the North Sea and North Atlantic regions and 1,800 offshore wind turbines in North Sea region alone.  And this number is rising. The total cost of full decommissioning of oil and gas installations in the North Sea alone for the period 2015 to 2040 is estimated at between US$70 and US$82 billion. The numbers of installations requiring decommissioning is also set to increase dramatically as renewable energy devices begin reaching the end of their operational life, and as plans for exploiting renewable energy sources in the near future grow. Globally, industry and governments are embracing different decommissioning approaches, from full removal to the production of artificial reefs. The question of what is best for the environment is still to be answered.

The INSITE programme, highlighted in this Policy Brief as novel model which could be implemented more widely, is a unique collaboration between leading energy companies and research. It is already funding research which is exploring the influence of man-made structures on the marine ecosystem in order to provide a solid scientific basis for future decision-making.

Ultimately, appropriate decisions need to be made in the very near future regarding the decommissioning of oil and gas and renewable energy structures. At present, there remains a need for more scientific research to better inform the decision-making process regarding their fate.

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May 2017

The Ticking Time Bomb of Climate Change

Science Commentary questioning the over-emphasis in global policy discussions on 21st Century impacts of climate change. The short policy paper is based largely on an article published in Nature Climate Change in February 2016 by a group of scientists led by Peter U. Clark of Oregon State University, USA. The authors argue that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from human activity will remain in the atmosphere and continue to affect the Earth’s climate for tens to hundreds of thousands of years. Many of the resulting long-term impacts are now unavoidable. Sea level, in particular, exhibits a much slower response time than rises in air temperature. If we look 10,000 years into the future, it is proposed that even a modest emissions scenario will result in a global mean sea-level of rise of 28 m, causing inundation of many of the world’s most densely populated coastal cities and regions and displacing billions of people. Advances in ocean and climate modelling make it possible to look much further into the future and the picture that emerges for future generations is one of catastrophic climate change. This longer-term perspective tells us that we urgently need to move towards complete decarbonisation of the world’s energy systems. It places a much greater onus on policy makers to react to the threat of climate change, starting with meeting the ambitious targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. Put another way, the decisions we make in the next 10 years could profoundly affect the next 10,000.

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March 2017

The Ocean-Climate Nexus Consensus Statement

The critical role of ocean science in responding to climate change- A call from the ocean research community

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November 2015

Delving Deeper (policy brief)

Key action areas for achieving sustainable management of our deep sea through integrated research

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November 2015

Delving Deeper: Critical challenges for 21st century deep-sea research

Overarching recommendations in deep-sea research to support a sustainable blue economy.

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September 2015

Rome Declaration

A consensus view of the EurOCEAN 2014 participants representing that of the European marine research community and resulting from a wide consultation at national, regional, pan-European and international levels

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October 2014

How our ancestors adapted to sea-level change (policy brief)

A summary of the key research needs and priorities to discover and safeguard Europe’s underwater heritage

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October 2014

Land beneath the waves

State of the art, key opportunities and recommendations to advance the European Continental Shelf Prehistoric Research

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October 2014

Linking Oceans and Human Health: A Strategic Research Priority for Europe

Key research needs and priorities to support the development of a holistic and coherent transnational oceans and human health research effort in Europe. The paper highlights that human health and well-being is intrinsically connected to, and impacted by, the seas and oceans which surround our continental landmass. To manage this relationship, we need an effective policy framework, linking maritime and public health policies. While Europe has made significant strides in developing an Integrated Maritime Policy, we do not yet take sufficient account of human health aspects in maritime policy-making. Hence the concerted European research effort advocated by this paper does not just represent and interesting scientific challenge, but is essential to ensure that improving public health and achieving Good Environmental status in European seas are linked and mutually supportive policy objectives. The paper was pre-released at the dedicated workshop on Oceans and Human Health co-organized by the EMB and JPI Oceans during the European Maritime Day (EMD) Stakeholder Conference 2013 in Malta. Since its presentation at the EMD, the report has generated several follow-up activities, including a dedicated multi-disciplinary expert workshop on Oceans and Human Health in Cornwall, UK, in March 2014. Furthermore, report’s messages have been taken up by several national research and education initiatives

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December 2013

Navigating the Future IV

Foresight report organized around the framework of key societal challenges in the areas of climate, human health, food security, energy and safe and sustainable use of marine space

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June 2013

Achieving Ecologically Coherent MPA Network in Europe: Science Needs and Priorities

Science needs and priorities to inform, engage and empower stakeholders in planning networks of MPAs across Europe and beyond

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April 2013

Getting Ready for an Ice-free Arctic

Science Commentary calling for a sustained Arctic marine observation and data exchange system

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April 2013

Marine Biodiversity: A Science Roadmap for Europe

Reveals gaps in our knowledge and research capacities, examines the policy landscape and includes a roadmap for European marine biodiversity research.

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September 2012

Marine Microbial Diversity and its role in Ecosystem Functioning and Environmental Change

Highlights recent advances in marine microbial research and identifies key priorities and needs for future European research.

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June 2012

Monitoring chemical pollution in Europe's Seas - programmes, practices and priorities for research

A critical evaluation of current monitoring practices and assessment frameworks as well as mechanisms for including emerging chemicals of concern in monitoring programmes

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November 2011

Climate Change Research Results

Synthesis of European Research on the Effects of Climate Change on Marine Environments
CLAMER-Marine Board special publication

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September 2011

Marine Biotechnology: a Vision and Strategy for Europe

Marine biotechnology state of the art and its significant potential to contribute to scientific, societal and economic needs; and a concrete science policy strategy

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September 2010

Marine Renewable Energy

An overview of how marine renewable energy can provide innovative solutions to tackle future energy challenges and to fully contribute to the EU 2020 vision

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September 2010

Science Dimensions of an Ecosystem Approach to Management of Biotic Ocean Resources

Research priorities and a work plan to achieve the objectives of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Joint EMB-ICES-EFARO publication

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April 2010

MarinERA Legacy

Summary of the achievements of the 6th EU Framework Programme ERA-NET project MarinERA 

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June 2009


A vision for an end-to-end, integrated, inter-operable and user-oriented network of European marine observation and data systems 

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September 2008

The Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammals

Addressing a complex problem of the effects of some ocean-based human activities on the marine mammals, who rely heavily on sound for communication and social organization

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June 2008

Remote Sensing of Shelf Sea Ecosystems

Summary of capabilities of satellite RS methodologies and their weaknesses, and a set of recommendations to maximise their effectiveness in monitoring shelf sea ecosystems

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February 2008

Responses to EC Consultations on Maritime Policy and ERA

Marine Board Responses to the European Commission's Green Papers: (i) Towards a future Maritime Policy for the Union: A European vision for the oceans and seas and (ii) The European Research Area: New Perspectives

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November 2007

Impacts of Climate Change on the European Marine and Coastal Environment

An overview of the climate change research challenges both at European and regional levels, and future research needs, in support of European climate change strategies and policies

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March 2007

European Ocean Research Fleets - Towards a Common Strategy and Enhanced Use

An inventory and description of the existing fleets, and recommendations on their enhanced use and management at pan-European level

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March 2007

Navigating the Future III

Strategic overview of marine research, priority recommendations and scientific challenges in the context of European science and societal needs.

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November 2006

Modelling in Coastal and Shelf Seas - A European Challenge

Analysis of hydrodynamic modelling of coastal and shelf seas and data assimilation, illustrating the development effort needed to transform research tools into services for the many users of ocean space and resources.     

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June 2005

Navigating the Future II

Research priorities and recommendations for marine research and policy at the European level - summary of Integrating Marine Science in Europe 

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March 2003

Integrating Marine Science in Europe

A milestone in the process of integrating and developing a strong, fully European profile for marine science as a key component of the European Research Area 

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November 2002

Marine Biotechnology - A European Strategy for Marine Biotechnology

Marine Board strategy for European marine biotechnology, mobilising efforts throughout Europe to address issues like human health, nutrition and environmental impact, as well as to further biodiversity and reproduction

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December 2001

Navigating the Future I - Towards a Marine European Research Area

Marine research challenges and their implications for European marine science and the societies 

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March 2001

Towards a European Marine Research Area

The Marine Board strategic marine science plan for Europe, integrating all relevant dimensions of the natural and social sciences and the concerns of all end users of European seas.

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December 2000