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The challenge

Oceans are home to an enormous range of species – many still undiscovered. They are also an integral part of our climate system and important vectors for transporting weather across the world. They influence climate, the carbon cycle and supports an impressive diversity life forms. Environmental degradation in the marine environment is likely to have a major impact on the planet as a whole and humanity in particular. The marine sciences thus have a crucial role to play in improving our understanding of this sub-aquatic environment and in guiding how research results can be applied in practice for its sustainable management.

Research history and policy relevance

In 2007 with the Aberdeen Declaration, the European Marine and Maritime Science and Technology Community stated its support of the European Commission's proposal for an all-embracing European Maritime Policy, based on the principle of sustainable development. Following extensive consultation, in October 2007 the European Commission launched its vision of an integrated maritime policy for the EU through the “Blue Book”. In addition, the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructure has made recommendations for integrating marine sciences in Europe and for strengthening marine research infrastructure. European marine scientists are contributing to the long-term observation and operational monitoring of the oceans and seas in the context of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems initiative and the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security initiative, in compliance with the INSPIRE Directive.

Marine environment in FP7

“Sustainable management of marine environments” is an important sub-activity of the research theme on the environment (including climate change). It focuses on improving our understanding of the impacts of human activities on the ocean and seas and on marine resources. Following the first FP7 calls in 2007, several projects are currently being launched with a wide thematic scope ranging from investigation of marine habitat-species relationships to life forms in extreme environments. The common rationale underlying this research is that by increasing our knowledge of the complex marine world, the damage caused by human activities can be better assessed and mitigated.