Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


AORAC-SA Report Summary

Project ID: 652677

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AORAC-SA (Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Support Action)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Coordination and Support Action (AORA-CSA) was established through funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement Number 652677.

The AORA-CSA is tasked with supporting the implementation of the Galway Statement which was signed on 24 May 2013. This Statement establishes a formal Atlantic Ocean Research Cooperation between Canada, the European Union, its Member States, the United States of America, and partner countries that builds on existing initiatives and programmes to increase coherence and coordination of ocean research cooperation.

The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Coordination & Support Action is coordinated by the Marine Institute Ireland with a Project Secretariat based at the Marine Institute Ireland and eight Work Package Leaders spread across European organizations. In addition, a High Level Advisory Board is in place. The work of the AORA-CSA is divided into eleven work packages (WPs) outlined in Table 1:

Table 1 Overview of Work Packages in AORA-CSA

Work Package WP Leader Organisation
Governance & Coordination Peter Heffernan Marine Institute Ireland
Networking & Conferences Peter Heffernan Marine Institute Ireland
Communications and Dissemination Peter Heffernan Marine Institute Ireland
PRIORITY RESEARCH THEMES Ecosystem Approach to Ocean Health and Stressors Mark Dickey-Collas ICES
Ocean Observation Joaquín Brito PLOCAN
Marine Biotechnology Sigurður Björnsson RANNÍS
Aquaculture Wojciech Wawrzynski ICES
Ocean Literacy Ana Noronha Ciência Viva
Seabed & Benthic Habitat Mapping Pål Buhl-Mortensen Institute Marine Research
SUPPORT THEMES Shared Access to Marine Research Infrastructures (MRI) Aurélien Carbonnière IFREMER
Knowledge Sharing Platform Neil Holdsworth ICES

The overall objectives of the AORA-CSA are:

• Implementation of the Galway Statement and support Atlantic Ocean Cooperation.
• Improvement in the International Cooperation framework of Marine Research Programmes with the aim of creating the foundation for the development of future large-scale joint international marine research programmes.
• Establishment of a long term knowledge sharing platform with easy access to available information and data holdings on international research of significance for Ocean Management.
A hallmark feature of this coordination and support action is that it be flexible and responsive to the needs of the AORA Leadership, as the Alliance develops and evolves the Coordination and Support action evolves the supports it offers to the AORA Lea

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

This Coordination and Support Action has provided excellent high quality scientific, technical and logistical support to the European Commission Directorate General Research & Innovation (EC) in developing and implementing trans-Atlantic Ocean Research Cooperation. Recognising the evolving nature of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, the key characteristics of this coordination and support action is that the partnership is flexible, responsive, inclusive, efficient, innovative, value-adding and supportive to the EC. As a result, the timelines indicated in the grant agreement may be brought forward or pushed back in line with the requirements of the EC and the Trilateral Galway Statement Implementation Committee. The Trilateral Galway Statement Implementation Committee to date has used a staggered approach to push forward with the agreed research cooperation areas. Consequently, in the AORA-CSA the six (6) identified research theme priorities and the two (2) underpinning themes or support actions are also staggered.
The research themes which have seen the most significant activity/focus in the first twelve (18) months of the AORA-CSA (ordered alphabetically) are:
• Aquaculture - our Aquaculture Work Package Leader Wojciech Wawrzynski, worked extensively with the Working Group (WG) trilateral co-chairs Jay Parsons (CA), Jacques Fuchs (EU and David O’Brien (US). Wojciech’s unit organised and hosted workshops and meetings for the WG, and supported participation of invited experts at these. Wojciech participated in and synopsised the outputs from the meeting compiling reports and bringing together the roadmap for Aquaculture WG. This strategic document will identify joint research priorities and present suggested actions to help enable and develop sustainable aquaculture industry in the EU, Canada, and USA. An extensive inventory of Aquaculture initiatives across Canada, the EU and was compiled and is available for consultation.
• Ocean Literacy - our Ocean Literacy Work Package Leader Ana Noronha, worked intensely with the Working Group (WG) trilateral co-chairs Paula Keener (US), Anne Stewart (CA) and Ivan Alcolea (EU). Ana organised the first trans-Atlantic Ocean Literacy workshop held in Lisbon in June 2015 and has also worked to coordinate the work undertaken by the Horizon 2020 Ocean Literacy projects Sea Change and ResponSEAble. Ana updated (according to inputs received at the Copenhagen TransAtlantic Ocean Literacy Workshop) and finalized the Transatlantic Ocean Literacy Implementation Plan.
• Seabed Mapping - The Secretariat catalysed the proof-of-concept Seabed Mapping Transects in concert with AORA Trilateral Leads and the Atlantic Seabed Mapping International Working Group (ASMIWG). The historical first transect on the Celtic Explorer Research Vessel was also filmed and major communications and outreach success was achieved through the coordinated efforts of the CSA, Trilateral Leads and the ASMIWG. In addition, the Secretariat provided administrative, logistical and travel supports to the ASMIWG. In the first 18 months of the AORA-CSA, five Atlantic mapping transects have been carried out identifying and mapping previously undiscovered mountains and volcanoes.
• Ecosystem Approach to Ocean Health & Stressors – the first baseline workshop, the AORA-CSA FAO Workshop “Making the ecosystem approach operational” in January 2016 was organized by AORA-CSA Work Package Leader Mark Dickey-Collas in Copenhagen, Denmark. Separately Mark organized a scoping meeting alongside the workshop with Canadian, EU, and US AORA participants. This was followed up at the beginning of June 2016 with another Scoping Meeting in Brest, France alongside the MSEA 2016 meeting. These scoping meetings helped identify a clear focus on the elements that the AORA Ecosystem Approach to Ocean Health & Stressors Working Group would use to better elucidate and understand how an ecosystem approach can be undertaken, and

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The AORA-CSA worked to provide a major catalysis of the trans-Atlantic transects, stimulating a gathering momentum amongst Galway Statement signatories as well as the AORA- CSA consortium as a prelude towards a coordinated Atlantic Seabed Mapping campaign. Within the first four months of the AORA-CSA, the AORA-CSA catalysed the first trans-Atlantic seabed mapping survey undertaken by the RV Celtic Explorer. Within the following 12 months, the AORA-CSA supported four more surveys by working with the Research Vessel owners and teams to secure the transits and publicise the transits for the Atlantic Seabed Mapping International Working Group. The AORA-CSA filmed the first transit and developed a short video ( on the Atlantic Seabed Mapping Initiative for the AORA. The AORA-CSA coordinated a media presence, press releases, a blog and ensured a major communications and outreach success for the ASMIWG to create an awareness of the goals of the ASMIWG.
The Secretariat organized a major networking event in Washington D.C (14-16 March 2016) bringing together the leaders of NASA, NOAA, NSF and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and engaging with them about the goals and early achievements of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.

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