Working together for sustainable European Marine and Maritime Policy
Achieving the full economic potential of the oceans and seas in harmony with the marine environment is the primary goal of the European Union (EU)-funded project SEAS-ERA, which has brought together leading Marine Research and Technological Development funding organisations from across Europe. The project coordinates and integrates national and regional marine and maritime research programmes, and harmonises common priorities and needs related to the European sea basins.
The SEAS-ERA network is supporting the mutual opening of national funding programmes and development of transnational calls for tenders and proposals. By reducing fragmentation, duplication and isolation, the project benefits national funding organisations — and ultimately the wider European research community and society. The project is working towards a more coherent and cost-effective transnational strategy ensuring excellence in European marine research.
A first SEAS-ERA €4.4 million joint call was opened in 2012 for transnational proposals from the Atlantic sea and Mediterranean regions, focused on three topics: “Ecosystem approach and ecosystem models for the North Atlantic Ocean”; “Risk assessment of invasive alien species — changes in marine biodiversity”; and “Development of indicators and science support and management tools for the determination of Good Environmental Status in the Mediterranean Sea”. Five transnational collaborative Research & Development projects were selected for funding, based on a centralised international peer-review assessment of proposals and within the scope of national budgets.
There are other calls scheduled for 2013. “We are now discussing about two pending calls, the Black Sea call and the pan-European one,” says SEAS-ERA Project Coordinator Professor Beatriz Morales-Nin from the Institut Mediterrani d'Estudis Avançats, Spain. “Due to budget cuts, we are determining which partners would be able to participate. A final decision will be taken soon,” adds Professor Morales-Nin.
The SEAS-ERA project is considered to be innovative, as Professor Morales-Nin points out. “In our strategic agendas we have identified areas requiring innovation. We have presented these requirements to the EU platforms related to marine and maritime issues”, she explains.
The SEAS-ERA team is an example of a living partnership of 18 leading European Marine research funding agencies in 13 EU member states and 5 non-EU member countries. In addition, a range of observers are associated with the project, which is coordinated by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Innovation.
The project will be implemented in three regions — the Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea — through dedicated regional working plans. A fourth region, the Baltic Sea, is already coordinated by the Joint Baltic Sea Research Programme BONUS. “We can consider SEAS-ERA as a successful project as most of our objectives are already fulfilled. We are contributing to the European Research Area development by strengthening collaboration between research funding organisations. We have reinforced our regional approach thanks to working with our colleagues from the Joint Baltic Sea Research Programme,” concludes Professor Morales-Nin.