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EMODnet North Sea basin Checkpoint


The North Sea Checkpoint project is a pilot launched by DG MARE designed to assess the usage of available data in answering questions about the North Sea. Alongside its counterpart, Mediterranean Checkpoint, it was launched in November 2013. For both projects, the assessment is undertaken through a series of seven challenges acting as a way of providing proxy projects which may face policy makers, commercial or other marine users, requiring usable data in order to deliver them.


Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What marine data related to human activities is available for the North Sea region?
  • What is the role of EU initiatives such as EMODnet and Copernicus in providing information?

Implementation Context

The North Sea checkpoint focuses on matching existing data services to solve particular challenges like windfarm siting, marine protected areas, oil platform leak, climate and coastal protection, fisheries management, marine environmental management and river inputs to the coastal environment.

It does not deliver data itself, but supports users in making explicit the value of data in solving these challenges.  In this way users can understand if they are embarking on a similar or related challenge whether adequate data is available and where to get it.

Aspects / Objectives

Much of the monitoring, data collection and aggregation has been undertaken by public bodies and the academic community, whose efforts have been extensive.  However, the driving factors in the blue economy of commercial users may not directly match to the experiences of the academic and public sectors who are already very involved in the EC initiatives.  It is recognised that much of this activity is to inform policy makers and decision takers, thus providing a commercial focus provides a wider feedback field than concentrating solely on meeting regulatory and legislative reporting requirements

Main outputs / Results

Each challenge reviews and analyses websites, grey literature, data and scientific papers to investigate the adequacy of data to support policy and the blue economy in the North Sea Basin.  It has been analysed how easy it is to discover the data and information, using both general purpose search engines and scholarly catalogues.  The aim was to put the involved scientists into the position of an actor in the Blue Economy to see how easy it is for them to find relevant information on data to suit their needs.  If data was not discovered, this provided a valuable service in identifying potential data gaps which may need addressing.  Once the data and information was accessed, appraising these to provide a data valuation has been conducted, using the criteria:

Contribution – Does the data contain the right parameters?
Location – Does the data cover the correct time / space location?
Commercial – Are the commercial terms acceptable?
Attributes – Does the data have the correct attributes?
Delivery - Can the data be provided to match the timeframe of the challenge?
Usability – Is the data format and supporting information suitable?

As soon as each challenge was performed, information relating to these criteria was captured.. The aim was to provide a data brokerage tool, which was named the “Data Advisor”.

Several progress and data adequacy reports have been published so far:


The checkpoint uses web ontology standards to link available data to particular challenges.  This is similar in context to how comparison websites such as TripAdvisor link users requirements (challenges) to particular hotels (data sets).  This provides a value context to the metadata that typically describes datasets and can be transfered to other sea basin data approaches.

Responsible Entity

EMODnet Secretariat

Costs / Funding Source

European Commission’s Directorate -General for Maritime and Fisheries (DG MARE)

Contact person

EMODnet Secretariat, (secretariat[at]emodnet[dot]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu) 

Leading Entity:

HR Wallingford