Priority 2: Protect, secure and develop the potential of the Atlantic marine and coastal environment

Specific objectives of this priority include:

1. improving maritime safety and security

Reinforcing the safety and security of seafarers, coastal populations, property and ecosystems by:

  • evaluating and extending as necessary existing warning, reporting and response mechanisms for invasive and harmful marine species and foster exchanges of best practice on how to deal with such threats;
  • supporting initiatives undertaken by Member States in the Atlantic, including risk assessments, coordinated response mechanisms and investments in state-of-the-art equipment that contribute appropriately to enhancing coordinated preparedness and responses to marine threats, natural disasters, marine accidents, spills of oil and hazardous material or trafficking;
  • developing, testing and deploying new technologies to improve the inspection of vessels and enhance the safety and security of ports and shipping by better integrating data from satellites and from air, sea and land-based surveillance facilities and innovative in-situ instruments to improve situational awareness in the maritime domain;
  • helping to deliver regional sea-basin-related information services within the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE), based on agreed EU-wide standards and experience gained by Member States in pilot projects.

2. exploring and protecting marine waters and coastal zones

Developing a European Atlantic ocean observing and predictive capability, based on existing structures, platforms and mechanisms to support the implementation of EU policies, reduce costs for industry, public authorities and research institutions, stimulate innovation and reduce uncertainty in the behaviour of the Atlantic ocean and the impact of climate change by:

  • using existing systems and mechanisms to develop and maintain a sustainable integrated programme for surveying and observing the coasts, seabed and water column, covering the waters of EU Member States, Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories from the coasts to the deep ocean;
  • developing new instruments and platforms for ocean observation and ecosystem monitoring (including seabed mapping) that increase the number of parameters that can be measured automatically, lower the costs of observation and accelerate the dissemination of data to users;
  • contributing to a more effective stewardship, cataloguing and distribution of interoperable marine data and a multi-resolution seabed map through contributions to a European Marine Observation and Data Network;
  • developing a network of coastal oceanographic forecasting systems (including risk assessments) that build on the Copernicus marine service.

Contributing to the development of tools and strategies to address global climate change issues, including mitigation and adaptation strategies by:

  • supporting an assessment of the carbon footprint of the blue economy in the Atlantic area;
  • develop a platform for exchanging best practice on emissions reduction and energy efficiency;
  • developing co-operative partnerships to identify and monitor the impacts of global climate change on marine activities, ecosystems and coastal communities in the Atlantic area, including developing better predictive and risk assessment capabilities.

Supporting marine environmental protection and efforts to achieve "good environmental status" of Atlantic waters by 2020 by:

  • continuing to build on national plans, OSPAR processes and Natura 2000 sites to help develop a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas for Europe's Atlantic coast by agreeing on good practices and shared evaluation processes that could also benefit Macaronesia and the Outermost Regions in the Caribbean;
  • encouraging further cooperation between Member States, including through OSPAR, for example on coordinated and integrated monitoring programmes and joint action to restore ecosystems.

Assessing the social and economic value and functioning of the Atlantic's ecosystems and biodiversity in order to support decision-making.
Contributing to Member States maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management processes, for example by sharing best practice and facilitating cross-border coordination.

3. sustainable management of marine resources

Developing a better understanding of the technical feasibility, economic viability and environmental impact of mining for minerals in the Atlantic Ocean, and develop and test innovative mining technologies.
Laying the foundations for a sustainable, high-value-added European marine biotechnology industry by:

  • exploring the seafloor and assessing its genetic make-up, biodiversity and potential for providing material for the biotechnology industry, taking account of applicable international law and the need to protect the marine environment;
  • strengthening links between research and industry in the Atlantic area in order to develop biobanks and identify markets for innovative marine bioproducts (biomedicine, tissue engineering, pharmaceuticals, industrial enzymes) and focusing research on delivering industrial processes for manufacturing them.

4. exploitation of the renewable energy potential of the Atlantic area's marine and coastal environment

Considering ways to accelerate the deployment of sustainable offshore renewable energy by:

  • encouraging assessment and mapping of the potential of the European Atlantic Ocean's energy resource and determining how to mitigate the environmental and navigational impact of the construction, operation and decommissioning of installations as part of regional Smart Specialisation Strategies for offshore renewable energy;
  • contributing to a European electricity transmission system that allows the balancing of loads between national systems and provides better links between offshore and onshore energies;
  • promoting research, development and demonstration of technologies for the construction and maintenance of renewable energy installations for offshore wind, wave, tidal and biomass energies including integration with desalination plants and multipurpose offshore platforms;
  • encouraging the harnessing of the special geological, oceanographic and meteorological conditions of the Outermost Regions of the Atlantic in order to help them achieve energy self-sufficiency and meet carbon emission reduction targets.