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EMODnet Thematic Data Portals


The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is a centralised gateway of marine data, products and metadata being assembled by more than 160 local, national, regional and international organisations. EMODNet Data Portals provide access to marine data across seven thematic areas: bathymetry; geology; seabed habitats; chemistry; biology; physics; human activities. EMODnet not only provides access to data but also ensures that the data generated through various means, including research projects, are safeguarded and made available for re-use beyond the life time of these projects.



Questions this practice may help answer

  • What marine data is available throughout EU?
  • How is data from various sources being harmonised?
  • What is the methodology for developing a spatial data portal?

Implementation Context

Access to marine data is of vital importance for marine industries, decision-making bodies and scientific research. However, marine data collection, storage and access in Europe has been carried out in a fragmented way for many years. Most data collection has focused on meeting the needs of a single purpose by a wide range of private and public organisations, often in isolation from each other. EMODnet is intended to be an effective pan-European marine data infrastructure that will enable effective and efficient marine spatial planning and legislation for environment, fisheries, transport, border control, customs and defence. It has been estimated that such an integrated marine data policy will save at least one billion Euros per year, as well as opening up new opportunities for innovation and growth.

Data from the portal can be particularly useful in scoping phases of the national MSP processes, and trans-boundary and cross border planning initiatives.

Aspects / Objectives

EMODnet Data Portals aim to provide a free single access point to European marine data and products by assembling individual datasets from various sources and processing them into interoperable data products.


Data for portals is being compiled from a variety of sources. EMODnet also develops links with other initiatives and organisations collecting and holding relevant data and information. By making use of third-party sources of information, EMODnet ensures that there is no duplication of effort and that the users of the portals can be confident of sourcing the best information available.

Main Outputs / Results

Seven Data Portals are developed that provide access to marine data across seven thematic areas: bathymetry; geology; seabed habitats; chemistry; biology; physics; human activities.


 A trend can be noted in that most countries are making efforts to develop evidence strategies for MSP and are considering options for MSP data infrastructures, including the creation of GIS databases to support the MSP process. Specifically, the following countries have in development or are planning to establish GIS MSP portals: Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal and UK (Northern Ireland). Therefore, this practice could be, to a certain extent, transferable to Member States that are making efforts to develop MSP GIS data portals to support their national or transboundary MSP process. However, transboundary MSP data needs are different from national MSP data needs. The scope and level of detail of data needed is much simpler, usually dealing with issues such as where shipping lines or energy corridors cross political boundaries. However, ensuring the coherence and harmonisation of these data across boundaries remains a challenge. EMODNet provides an example on how one such data portal might be developed and look like.

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)