Main research question/goal
Steps are being taken by the European commission to establish a European marine observation and data network. This network should facilitate the access to high quality marine data for researchers, governments and private companies. The network aims to encompass hydrological, geological, chemical and biological data. These data are usually characterised by limited spatial and temporal coverage, and are often scattered in small datasets concerning specific species groups or habitats. Additionally, the datasets are managed and hosted by different institutes or organisations. Consequently, all these individual datasets need to be integrated into exchangeable data products. Research approach
In function of data integration, the Bio-Environmental Research Unit provides part of the monitoring data from the Belgian part of the North Sea to the biology portal of EMODNET. These long term monitoring data (1978 – present) concerning macrobenthos, epibenthos, demersal fish and zooplankton, provide extensive regional biodiversity information. These data are made available in a stepwise manner throughout the course of the project and are publicly accessible. The development of the data portal is coordinated by VLIZ, the Flemish Marine Institute.Relevance/Valorisation
Marine biodiversity data are essential for the assessment of the health of marine ecosystems in different regions (e.g. North Sea, Baltic Sea). The wide dispersion of marine data per country and per institute, however, hampers large-scale evaluations. Consequently, an overarching data portal centralising biological data has an enormous added value with regard to policy, for example in function of European directives that aim to assess the status of all ecosystems and of entire maritime areas.