ESONET - The Vision

Virtual Institute of Scientific Users of Deep Sea Observatories

First VISO Workshop 11-12 June 2009, Tromsø (Norway)

The obvious objective of the workshop was to provide the planned marine large scale infrastructures, partner countries and interested organizations - such as fisheries and hydrocarbon industry - with strategies for ensuring the transfer of results based on the observatory data. One of the terms of reference is the EU Green Paper “Towards a future maritime policy: a European vision of the oceans and seas”. Therefore, the VISO plan is strongly linked to the development of the maritime policy and its environmental pillar, i.e. the Thematic Strategy for the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environments and sustainable growth. You can find the agenda and the talks by clicking on the link VISO_agenda.

The main focus of this workshop was to gather major marine research stake-holders, including industries, directly or indirectly related to deep-sea observatories. The necessity of this workshop was highlighted by previous extensive discussions about what would VISO be, how to create it and who should be included. VISO could be built on the ESONET Network of Excellence (NoE) Consortium Agreement and outcomes from other NoEs.

The particular focus areas for the workshop were:

  1. Setting realistic objectives for the creation of a coherent virtual institute;
  2. Identifying the needs and expectations as seen from academia and industry;
  3. Identifying the common interests between scientists and industries;
  4. Involving companies that could provide high-tech products for marine data;
  5. Identifying the consortium to be gathered for the virtual institute.

The workshop covered topics of relevant ocean and seabed observations and particularly intended to foster the exchange of ideas across the disciplines presented by major marine European, American, Canadian and Japanese research programs. The workshop gathered scientists and managers from academia and industry active in marine research, who are willing to participate in the building of a Virtual Institute of Scientific users of deep-sea Observatories. The workshop was designed to improve the interaction between researchers, industry and policy makers, with a view to extend our understanding of the marine biosphere and geosphere processes also related to global changes. The understanding of the temporal and spatial variability of the relevant processes will provide a huge step forward towards the sustainable use of the environment by adding the time dimension. Deep-sea technology is cost-intensive and challenging, and hence requires that organizations and partners closely cooperate in their use and further development. The development of VISO interfaces with marine policy of the ocean, renewable and non-renewable marine resources and ecosystems inhabiting them.
Studies of the deep-sea environment go across disciplines, where a request to arrive at better predictive capabilities for the evolution and fate of the deep-sea exists in a rapidly changing environment. The audience was divided into four focused groups devoted to reports on the selected marine topics, and to advancing the concept for the virtual institute and technology:

- Needs and expectations as seen from academia
- Needs and expectations as seen from industry
- Potential collaboration between academia and industry
- Practical approach and its strategy to make VISO a permanent and successful structure

The group discussions highlighted the urgent need to understand the effect of the climate change on the ocean which is turning into a more acidic, minimum oxygen zone environment that is expanding. Anoxic zones are appearing in formally rich fishing places, threatening ocean health and renewable marine resources that are very important for a sustainable human food supply. The lack of deep-sea observations needs to be overcome in a very short time span of a few years, especially for decision makers trying to find better ways to communicate crucial scientific knowledge for end-users. The education issue is evenly essential, with an increasing need of training of young specialists for environmental research.

The list of participants and posters are available on VISO_participants and VISO_posters, respectively.