Billions of people worldwide rely on the oceans for food and jobs. Around 60 million people are involved in fisheries and aquaculture – most of them in small scale fisheries in developing countries. Healthy oceans and coasts are essential for economic growth and food production, as well as for the health and well-being of local populations. Coastal and marine environments are often rich, with high levels of productivity and biodiversity, but they are also vulnerable to climate change and pressures from human activities.
The Blue Economy approach to the oceans supports economic growth, social inclusion and improvement of livelihoods, while also ensuring the continued health of coastal and marine ecosystems and the services they provide. This takes careful planning and management, based on a sound understanding of marine and coastal environments. However, these areas are expensive and challenging to measure and monitor using in situ techniques alone. In many cases there are no viable alternatives to EO for providing the information decision-makers need in order to build a sustainable blue economy.
Since 2008 the European Space Agency (ESA) has worked closely with Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and their Client States to harness the benefits of Earth Observation (EO) in global sustainable development. Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) is a new ESA initiative which aims at increasing the uptake of EO-based information in regular development operations at national and international level.
EO4SD-marine will work with a range of stakeholders to define and implement a large-scale demonstration of how EO-derived information can support sustainable development activities in marine and coastal environments. Specifically, our aim is to demonstrate the use of EO to support, for example:
- Mapping of coastal bathymetry, coastline change, and changes in coastal land cover and land use
- Mapping the extent and status of benthic habitats such as coral reefs, macro-algae and seagrass beds
- Monitoring of water quality and marine pollution
- Assessments of coastal habitat extent and status
- Monitoring of coastal environments required for the planning, implementation and management of marine protected areas
- Surveillance of illegal and unreported fisheries
- Monitoring of economic activities such as aggregate extraction and dredging
- Marine spatial planning and the selection of suitable sites for aquaculture and other activities to develop blue economy activities such as tourism, transportation, and marine energy generation
Our portfolio of EO-derived products and services is currently being developed in consultation with a range of stakeholders in International Financing Institutions (IFIs) and their Client States. As detailed specifications become available for each service, more information will be available on this web site, and in a complete portfolio brochure. See below for examples of potential services.