While plenty of data exist, they have generally not been gathered as part of an overall strategy. The result: an incomplete picture of what has already been measured. Do we have the right data, for instance, to predict the impact of oil spills, to determine the number of fish caught or to assess the coherence of marine protected areas?
The EU's "seabasin checkpoints", part of the "marine knowledge 2020" initiative, are beginning to provide answers. Over the past months, teams have been carrying out "stress tests" with publicly available marine data for each sea basin, trying to assess whether the data themselves and the processes for accessing and using them are fit for purpose.
A recent meeting of scientists and engineers in the UK, from 2-4 September, discussed first results of stress tests in the Mediterranean and North Sea. Interim findings show that:
The final results for the North Sea and Mediterranean will be delivered by the end of next year and presented to those responsible for producing the data and those who use them.
Meanwhile new checkpoints were launched at the meeting for the Arctic, Atlantic, Baltic and Black Seas to tackle these and other challenges and assess existing data for those sea basins.