SeaZone, the specialist marine mapping division of HR Wallingford, has been appointed to lead the North Sea Check Point, a key European Commission initiative to drive forward the blue economy.

The blue economy is driven by the sustainable exploitation of our marine resources, and access to effective and appropriate data is key to its success. EMODnet, the European Marine Observation and Data Network (, is a EC DG Mare initiative to unleash public sector marine data and direct it to support marine policy and developments in the blue economy. A number of marine data portals have already been launched as part of this initiative, and DG Mare is testing their effectiveness through a series of ‘check points’ for European sea basins. SeaZone is leading the check point for the North Sea basin.

Keiran Millard, business manager at HR Wallingford said: “The check points are a well-timed move by DG Mare to understand the effectiveness of the EMODnet programme. We are looking at seven marine management challenges, for example how do we determine the best place to site an offshore windfarm or quantity of fish caught in the basin. We will report on the effectiveness of available data services in solving these challenges.”

The North Sea checkpoint will establish a method for ‘valuing’ the data made available through initiatives such as EMODnet and Copernicus ( The project team is applying semantic web approaches that are more routinely encountered on ‘smart’ websites that help users choose hotels or consumer goods. Keiran Millard said, “We want to show in a transparent way the value of the data. With so much information coming on line, it is important that users can both find and trust the data they download. This allows us to steer users towards the data most likely to support their marine project requirements.”

The North Sea Checkpoint will run until December 2017. A parallel checkpoint is running for the Mediterranean Sea with check points for other seas coming on line from 2015.

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