Ocean monitoring systems are necessary but expensive. In order to save costs and support the implementation of the European Union’s Integrated Maritime Policy (EU), the European marine observation data network EMOdnet has designed a quality assessment framework to determine the capacity of European information systems to meet the challenges of sustainable maritime growth and launch a series of checkpoints to probe the realm of marine data by checking the availability and fitness for use of the existing observation networks at basin scale and point out what to do next by 2020 (« stress tests »). And this because the new paradigm of the EU maritime strategy is to optimize existing data collection to satisfy the maximum number of uses.  In such a context, data adequacy means to make data more available and usable for some end users not initially targeted by data collection and assembly programs.

The DG MARE concept of sea-basin checkpoints was introduced within the “Marine Knowledge 2020 communication” and defined in the EU roadmap. The assessment, an ISO 9004-like quality management process, is carried out by 6 “checkpoints” whose fields of investigation correspond to the maritime basins of the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean (see).

Each checkpoint must meet a series of stress tests carried out by 7 to 11 « challenges » inspired by issues related to both the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the EU Blue Growth Initiative. The scope of each stress test is to realized statistical, cartographic or time series products whose production aims in fine to determine “how” and “how much” existing data meet challenges objectives (the so-called “Fitness For use “).

The first checkpoint started in 2013 for the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea basins. They are now over. The others began in 2015 and will end in September 2018. The checkpoints Black Sea and Atlantic have adopted the methodological framework of the Mediterranean Sea checkpoint. Together, they are the first attempt ever made at such a scale to harmonize an end-user qualification framework of existing marine data sources.

Whereas the checkpoint evaluates & releases the status on monitoring data at the scale of the sea basin, the governing infrastructure will take actions to enhance the marine infrastructure (“better know to better act”) and require a new evaluation cycle (if so).Whether checkpoints should be updated and at which frequency according to changes in marine data landscape is for DG MARE to decide. In any case, the design of an open and repeatable process puts us on the safe side if an update was to occur.