At the request of the Norwegian Government, ICES has been reviewing the MAREANO seabed mapping programme. The review, released as advice today, concludes that the programme is delivering data products, maps, and dissemination material using methods in accordance with sound scientific standards and which meet the needs of the programme. Among the advice provided to specific problems is the recommendation that the MAREANO programme should define a clearer set of objectives as well as strengthening internal communication and data exchange, including improved transparency in decision-making.
The MAREANO programme maps seabed terrain and depth, sediments, benthic habitats, species diversity, and sediment pollutants across the Norwegian exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR), the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), and the Norwegian Hydrographic Service (SKSD). Data are presented in the Mareano web portal as well as in the data bases of these institutions.
"It was important for us in Norway to have an independent and internationally recognized scientific body review our work thus far in the MAREANO programme," said Johan H. Williams, Specialist Director at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and Chair of the MAREANO Steering Committee. "To date we have invested close to a billion Norwegian kroner in the programme and it is crucial for us to know that we are heading in the right direction."
The general objective of MAREANO is to conduct scientifically sound and thorough baseline mapping of Norwegian seabed ecosystems to support decision-making in natural resources and ecosystem management. Norway wished to evaluate whether the implementation of the MAREANO programme, which has been running for ten years, employs the best international scientific standards, and saw ICES as the best mechanism for this assessment.
"I was particularly impressed by the scale of ambition and the amount of ship time allocated to map the deep, hard to reach, high sea areas," said Mark Tasker, vice-chair of ICES Advisory Committee.