The Marine Board of the European Science Foundation has issued an innovative document entitled “Position Paper on Integrating Marine Science in Europe”. This was formally presented to the Commissioner, Philip Busquin, at a dedicated meeting on 12th November 2002 in coincidence with the launching of the EU’s 6th Research Framework Programme.

It is based on extensive consultations with Europe’s marine science community in the last two years, and prospective work carried out by European scientists, institutes and agencies. The report builds on three major strategic drivers: understanding and predicting the impacts and feedbacks of ocean-climate change; the scientific and socio-economic basis for the sustainable development of the European seas and their resources; and the ocean as the ultimate frontier for research.It provides a comprehensive overview of the important role of marine science in sustainable development and in meeting societal needs. It identifies exciting new developments in science and technology, highlights long-term observational needs, access to large scale infrastructures and outreach activities.

In the words of Dr Jean-François Minster, CEO of the French Marine Institute (IFREMER) and newly elected Chairperson of the ESF Marine Board, the report establishes an important milestone in the process of integrating and developing marine science as a key component of the European Research Area. It provides a basis for developing mechanisms for a better co-ordination of the Marine R&D programmes in the Member States, facilitating interagency co-operation and maximising the benefit for marine science and the marine sector from the European 6th Framework Programme.

At the last meeting of the Marine Board, the relevance of the report to the EU candidate countries was also highlighted. The Position Paper sets an important reference point for countries like Malta to synergise efforts towards an enhanced contribution of the marine sector to the national economy by targeting marine R&D in line with that of Europe. The report also sets the background to the Marine Vision Document which will this year be prepared for Malta within the eFORESEE initiative conducted by MCST. It also ties in well with the large EU-funded environment-related project, the Mediterranean network to Assess and Upgrade Monitoring and Forecasting Activity in the region (MAMA). This project is co-ordinated by the MedGOOS Secretariat (IOI-MOC, University of Malta) and the International Marine Centre in Italy, comprising a partnership from all the Mediterranean countries, and targets the design and initial implementation of a routine ocean/coastal monitoring and forecasting system in the region.

The IOI-Malta Operational Centre at the University of Malta has an observer status on the ESF Marine Board and is responsible to disseminate the Position Paper in Malta (contact person: Dr. Aldo Drago; email: