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Acoustic and imaging technologies

Specific challenge: Acoustic and imaging technologies (including LiDAR[1]), combined with data processing  have made considerable progress in the past 20 years and can provide remarkable insights into the state of marine ecosystems, from the water column to the seabed (and its habitats).

Acoustic technologies can be active (echosounder, multibeam sonar) or passive (devices to 'listen' and interpret marine sounds). They operate from a wide range of platforms, offer promising perspectives for characterising seabed and sea column habitats, species and ecology and can strongly support marine environment and fisheries management, as well as offshore activities and safety (e.g. detection of seeps, geologic events… etc.).

Imaging technologies have also proven to be powerful instruments to characterise the marine environment, its biomass, biodiversity, detect and provide estimates of pollution and marine litter. They can therefore be of important support to marine environment and fisheries management (e.g. marine litter assessment for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive - MSFD). However improvement is still needed to increase performance and cost efficiency of these technologies, whether it is to monitor the oceans, or to support marine industries.

Scope: Proposals should cover innovative technologies to improve the performance and the cost efficiency of underwater sensors and survey systems needed for acoustic detection, imaging or LiDAR, as well as the (fixed or mobile) platforms supporting them and signal and image processing to interpret raw data. Subsequent use of this information as part of an integrated framework of multi-modal data sources should also be considered.

Proposals should bring together marine scientists, technology providers and end-users (including policy makers), with a view to support implementation of MSFD, characterisation of good environmental status or to enhance a sustainable European maritime economy.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 4–6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impacts:

  • Strengthen the competitiveness and safety of the European maritime industry by developing innovative and cost efficient underwater acoustic and imaging technology devices and survey systems;
  • Support the implementation of marine environmental and fisheries policies (MSFD – CFP), including the objectives for detecting marine litter;
  • Support marine science and ocean discovery (seabed and sea column characterisation).

Type of action: Research and innovation actions

[1] Light Detection and Ranging