EU to map North Sea potential

Marine mapping specialist SeaZone has been tapped to lead a key European Commission (EC) scheme designed to spearhead development of the “blue economy” – including offshore wind.

The company, an arm of HR Wallingford, will manage the North Sea "check point", one of number of sea basin marine databases being built as part of the EC DG Mare initiative, designed "to unleash public sector marine data and direct it to support marine policy and developments in the blue economy".

"We are looking at seven marine management challenges, for example how do we determine the best place to site an offshore wind farm or quantity of fish caught in the basin," says HR Walllingford business manager Keiran Millard.

"We will report on the effectiveness of available data services in solving these challenges."

The North Sea checkpoint will establish a method for "valuing" the data made available through existing marine data resources such as EMODnet and Copernicus.

The SeaZone project team is applying "semantic" web approaches commonly found on comparative consumer websites.

"This allows us to steer users towards the data most likely to support their marine project requirements," says Millard.

The North Sea project will be run by SeaZone until December 2017, with parallel set-ups running for the Mediterranean Sea and check points for other marine basins being brought online from next year.