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Marine knowledge 2020

Definition and scope

Salmon hatchery, Screebe, Co. Galway, Ireland © Lionel Flageul

Marine Knowledge 2020 brings together marine data from different sources with the aim of:

  • Helping industry, public authorities and researchers find the data and make more effective use of them to develop new products and services.
  • Improving our understanding of how the seas behave.

Why EU-level action?

National data do not tell us all we need to know about the seas as a global system connected by shifting winds, seasonal currents and migrating species; analysis at European level is essential.

The integration of different national and local systems into a coherent whole has been driven by the EU. Its explicit powers in fields like fisheries, the environment, transport, research, enterprise and industry enable it to provide funding and legislate for marine knowledge 2020.

How does it work in practice?

Through the prototype websites of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODNET), engineers and scientists can see what data are available for a given sea basin, and download both original observations and derived data products such as digital terrain models, sediment distributions and marine habitats. At the same time work is ongoing to help EU countries to optimise their programmes for observing the sea. Pilot projects have started for the Mediterranean and the North Sea.

The benefits of improved access to data are explained by way of case study examples:

  • CASE STUDY 1:  Offshore Aquaculture: New Sea Cage Design
  • CASE STUDY 2:  Protection Against Coastal Erosion
  • CASE STUDY 3:  Protection of Cables for Offshore Wind
  • CASE STUDY 4:  Hydrographic Data to Assist in Optimising Navigation Routes of Ships

More on marine data

Official documents

Go to the Maritime Forum for further reading about:

Related content


  • 05/05/2015 - Fish: a treasure from the sea to be protected

    A new video that illustrates the key role of science in contributing to the so called 'Blue Growth', the maritime contribution to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

  • 30/03/2015 - Revealing Europe's hidden landscape

    The Commission is advancing in achieving its marine knowledge objectives with the release of a new digital map of Europe's seabed topography with a higher resolution than had previously been publicly available; about 230 metres compared to 1 kilometre before the launch of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet).

  • 12/08/2014 - Call for tenders MARE/2014/10 - Coastal mapping

    Whilst considerable progress has been made in mapping the topography of Europe's offshore waters and making the data available through digital terrain models, it is intrinsically more expensive to measure the depth of water in shallow coastal waters because of instrument characteristics and because there is a need to join up with land surveys.