Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Keeping the coast clear

More traffic in the sea-lanes means greater risk of accident and environmental pollution. And growth in the tourism and fish farming industries means that the damage can have a much wider impact on people's livelihoods. The OPCOM project will help protect our coastlines, jobs ...
More traffic in the sea-lanes means greater risk of accident and environmental pollution. And growth in the tourism and fish farming industries means that the damage can have a much wider impact on people's livelihoods. The OPCOM project will help protect our coastlines, jobs and businesses.

Background

Twenty years ago, oil spillage from the wreck of the giant tanker Amoco Cadiz destroyed sea-life off the coast of Brittany. More recently, fire caused extensive damage to the cargo ship Pallas. Yet, despite a 20-year learning curve, mismanagement let down the well-trained, well-equipped and highly specialised teams who had to deal with the Pallas disaster, and the ensuing damage threatened the German Bight and central North Sea.

That fire highlighted just how vital better monitoring and management of coastal zones has become. There is huge potential for conflict between tourism, local industries such as shellfish farming and the ever-increasing traffic in the sea-lanes. This is matched by growing concern about the need to safeguard marine life and improve water quality.

The OPCOM (Operational Modelling for Coastal Zone Management) project aims to provide better and more reliable tools for those involved in managing Europe's coastline.

Description, impact and results

OPCOM works by focusing on the needs of each user-community and, in particular, by involving small and medium-sized enterprises which are often excluded from R&D projects because of their limited financial resources. Users range from oyster-farmers, who need help with environmental monitoring to improve management and protection of oyster farming, to shipping companies requiring up-to-date hydrographic forecasting to plan shipping routes.

The project's main target areas are the Bay of Marennes-Oleron (France), where there is tension between oyster-farmers and local tourist operators; the Elbe estuary (Germany), one of the busiest sea-lanes in the world; the Tagus estuary (Portugal), where there are fears about the effect of sewage disposal on water quality; and the Archipelago Sea (between the Gulf of Bothnia and the central Baltic Sea), where there is a need for management tools to protect the marine environment. The aim is to monitor coastal waters, minimise any damage, guarantee a rapid response, and ensure sustainable development of maritime resources for the whole coastline community.

Working partnerships

The OPCOM consortium comprises seven organisations from Germany, France, Portugal and Finland. The co-ordinating body, HYDROMOD, is a German-based company dealing in marine research and hydro-geophysics; ARGES from Finland and SOGREAH from France specialise in energy research and environmental and water-resource management; Portugal's HIDROMOD develops software in engineering related to fluid mechanisms. Also involved are French environmental specialists CREMA, Finland's Environmental Impact Assessment Centre (EIA) and Portugal's Instituto Superior Tecnico from Technical University Lisbon.


Source: European Commission, DG XIII/D.4 - Information and dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge
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