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Background

The marine environment has a special relevance for Europe. Activities such as maritime transport, oil and gas extraction, use of wind and tidal power, shipbuilding, tourism, as well as the extraction of live resources - fishing, aquaculture or genetic materials - are essential for meeting the European economic and social objectives indicated in the Lisbon Agenda. Between 3%-5% of Europe‘s Gross Domestic Product is gene rated from sea-related activities while 90% of all the external European (European Commission (2007) —Maritime Facts and Figures“ ) trade is originally maritime. As a result, European Seas and Oceans are considered as crucial assets.

In this respect, the European Marine Strategy and the draft Maritime Spatial Planning Strategy, in development, stress the need to achieve the full economic potential of oceans and seas in harmony with the marine environment, on the basis of a concerted definition of research needs and priorities leading to a more effective integration of knowledge and resources. These strategies call particular attention to:

  • Promoting new and interdisciplinary skills and innovation capacities
  • Integration across marine and maritime research disciplines
  • Optimise the use of existing research infrastructures
  • Foster knowledge and technology transfer
  • Promote synergies at national & regional level
  • Mobilise national and regional funding to reach a critical mass to address marine re search
  • challenges

Definitely, a better understanding of the seas nature and conditions will revert in a better and more sustainable exploitation of them, and it is here where research arises s an element of the utmost importance. In other words, research has to be raised as the main element to reconcile -promotion of sustainable economic growth"and -environmental conservation". Research, at the end, is the link that improves the relationship between the marine and maritime elements of seas and oceans, enabling moreover knowledge based policy making.

 

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