The growing social and economic importance of Europe's coastal water resources presents a significant management challenge. Around 5 million EU citizens are employed in sea-related activities, with areas such as aquaculture, marine energy and safety experiencing rapid growth. However, opportunities for developing environment-friendly marine products and services have been created as a result of new regulations for protecting the fragile marine environment. An EU-funded networking initiative, the 'European marine science applications consortium' (EMSAC) project, helped grow innovation capacity in four maritime regions in France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. A Joint Action Plan based on future market, technology and research priorities in the field of coastal water resource management was developed in order to stimulate investment and innovation. The plan brought together relevant businesses, scientific institutions and policymakers, and investigated opportunities for expanding the network by seeking out greater international cooperation beyond the EU. hree main objectives were targeted by EMSAC. The first was a market-driven technology roadmap, which highlighted gaps in research and technological development (RTD). The second was to identify financing opportunities for RTD and match them with the most suitable research priorities to encourage the commercialisation of innovations. The final objective was to advise regional authorities about how best to implement innovation and RTD financing beyond that already available at the national and international levels. Project partners concentrated on growth opportunities resulting from improved management of Europe's estuarine and coastal resources. These included water quality management for both public amenities, like beaches, and commercial use, such as fish farms. Managing risks due to spills, flooding and impacts from the construction of offshore wind farms and other man-made structures were also considered. The initiative also focused on the management of sensitive ecosystems, fisheries and sources for biofuel production. EMSAC will help to conserve coastal water resources in the face of increasing pressure from multiple human activities, thereby allowing Europe's natural heritage to be used and enjoyed by future generations.
Coasts, water resources, estuarine, marine products, network, marine services, protection, aquaculture, fisheries