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EUROCEAN 2004, the blue landmark of the European Research Area


Seas and oceans are a vital resource for Europe and the world, particularly in terms of fishing and extracting minerals. But our oceans are now under intense pressure from over-exploitation and more than ever need to be managed in a sustainable way. To help ensure the protection and sustainable use of marine resources, 500 leading scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders will meet today, and for three days, at the EUROCEAN2004 conference in Galway (Ireland). The Commission will present latest EU research on marine science, with 130 projects focusing on issues such as marine and ecosystem biodiversity, marine genomics, and ocean drilling.

“In the last two decades, the European Commission has funded more than 300 research projects on marine science, covering issues such as marine bio-diversity, conservation, fisheries, marine security and forecasting, deep-sea resources and coastal management” says European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. “The results of these efforts confirm Europe’s leading position in this field of research. But excellence in science needs to be turned into applicable and best practice solutions. The conference, EUROCEAN 2004, is the best forum to discuss these research conclusions to help design future policies and strategies to help safeguard our marine environment.”

EUROCEAN, top marine science conference

The first EUROCEAN conference took place in Brussels, Belgium (1994), followed by Sorrento, Italy (1996), Lisbon, Portugal (1998) and Hamburg, Germany (2000). EUROCEAN 2004, being held in Galway 10-13 May 2004, should pave the way for the future of the European (marine) Research Area.

EUROCEAN2004 is jointly organised by the European Commission and the Irish Presidency of the European Union. EU-funded marine research project participants will showcase their research and development (R&D) results at the conference. More than 130 research projects will be presented. Some 500 participants are expected to attend the conference. Three key projects being presented at the conference include Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (MARBEF), Marine Genomics and the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD).


MARBEF is a “network of excellence” that aims to create a group of marine scientists and virtual European institute with long-term research programmes and links with industry and the public at large. This involves the co-ordination of research, training and exchanges in areas such as marine ecology and biogeochemistry, fisheries biology, taxonomy and socio-economic sciences. This will help the EU fulfil its international obligations and uphold EU environmental legislation in this field.

The network will also work with industries specialising on the sustainable use and exploitation of marine biodiversity such as tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, as well as with new industries that focus on marine genetics and chemical products.

Marine genomics

"Marine Genomics" is a network of excellence that studies different genomic approaches to marine life to look into the functioning of marine ecosystems and the biology of marine organisms. It will gather experts in genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics from several centres of excellence in genomics across Europe, with marine biologists who can make use of “high-throughput genomics data”.

Scientists will look into the evolution development and diversity of microbial, algal, fish and shellfish patterns. Research results will be useful in forecasting global changes in marine populations, the conservation of biodiversity and fisheries management, the improvement of aquacultured species and “gene mining” for health and biotechnology. The network will jointly create a common Bioinformatics Centre.


Deep ocean drilling provides a wealth of information on marine ecosystems to support sustainable marine resource management. ECORD gathers 15 European research funding organisations participating in the international Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme (IODP). ECORD is supported by a EU-funded “European Research Area Network” (ERA-Net) co-ordinated by the “Institut de Physique du Globe - INSU-CNRS”, in Paris. Member organisations will share information and best practice through ECORD to present high-quality research initiatives at the international level. By pooling their national funding of shore-based research, the national programmes involved will also encourage European laboratories to develop specific areas of geo-science expertise.

Six main themes

EUROCEAN2004 will feature six parallel thematic sessions, each of them will last half a day and will be organized around presentations from high-level speakers:
  • The role of ecosystem and biodiversity research in conservation of natural reserves and marine resources
  • Forecasting and disseminating research in support of the security of the maritime environment
  • The EU 6th Research Framework Programme (FP6 2002-2006), the European Research Area-(ERA) and the European Marine Research Area
  • Natural and human impact on coastal ecosystems
  • Exploration of the European ocean margin and deep-sea resources and ecosystem
  • The contribution of the young generations to the future of the European Marine Research Area

Fabio Fabbi | European Commission
Further information:

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