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Oceans and Human Health

"Life on earth is fundamentally and inextricably linked to the oceans. Oceanic processes affect climate, influence the spread of pathogens and determine food and material resource upon which we depend. How we use the sea can influence those processes to our benefit or detriment.˝  John Stegeman, Director, Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health, United States of America

Working Group Aims:

  • Mike MooreHighlight the importance of the marine and coastal environment for the health and welfare of European citizen;
  • Identify the societal, environmental and scientific challenges linking human health and the marine environment and marine processes and the need for an holistic, interdisciplinary approach to addressing these challenges;
  • Review previous research and existing initiatives worldwide providing an overview of the state-of-the-art in relation to Oceans and Human Health;
  • Encourage the growth, development and facilitation of the Oceans and Human Health research capacity required to tackle the "real-world", inter and multi-disciplinary problems faced not only in Europe but also globally;
  • Identify strategic areas for Europe in the realm of Oceans and Human Health research related to marine ecosystems and to improve Europe’s competitiveness in this field;
  • Provide recommendations to guide European research in the medium term (to 2020) to build the interdisciplinary community required to address the challenges associated with a better understanding and management of the risks and benefits offered by European marine and coastal environment; and
  • Formulate recommendations to foster the process of policy formulation through improved knowledge transfer and exchange to allow decision makers to better manage the marine environment to improve human health. 

Oceans and Human Health

EMB Position Paper 19, the output of EMB WG OHH, identifies the 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.

The report is available from the publications page

Working group membership here

Uptake and Impact

For 2 years after publication, the EMB Secretariat actively disseminated the paper and monitored impact at national, regional, European and international levels. This was conducted in collaboration with EMB WG members, the wider EMB member organizations and the ESF communications team. A final impact report (period May 2013 – April 2015) is available here.

If you have further feedback on uptake/dissemination opportunities please contact the EMB Secretariat

Contact at European Marine Board Secretarait: Paula Kellett Email