Marine Data News Issue 45
July 2020
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In this issue of Marine Data News...
New marine data management animation 
Although the world has felt very different for lots of us during 2020, the Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) and the MEDIN Data Archive Centres have continued working hard throughout lockdown to continue to provide access to UK marine data. The MEDIN core team are available as usual via email to answer any questions you may have. 

The Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) are delighted to present a new animation focused on marine data management. The cartoon follows two marine scientists from different organisations as one seeks to make use of data the other has collected, after seeing the data in a journal. The video complements the famous panda video which many of you will have seen in MEDIN workshops, which amusingly highlights similar issues experienced by medical researchers. The new animation is bespoke to MEDIN and highlights the importance of using marine data standards and archiving data for long-term accessibility with accredited Data Archive Centres (DACs), as well as demonstrating some common pitfalls.

The video is available on youtube and MEDIN encourage you to watch and share the animation to help raise awareness of the benefits of using the standards, tools and workshops that MEDIN provide for free. Special thanks must go to colleagues at the British Oceanographic Data Centre for becoming Alex and Beth! 

Click on the image below to see the full animation.

 Image above: MEDIN Marine Data Management Animation 

MEDIN: A case study on how GEMINI has been implemented for marine data 
The Association for Geographic Information (AGI) are showcasing the Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) as a case study of the use of UK GEMINI for marine data. Full report available here.

The Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) is a collaborative and open partnership aiming to improve the management of and access to the UK’s valuable marine data and information resources. MEDIN has a web portal, which is fundamental to the commitment MEDIN has to making data accessible. The portal currently provides access to over 220 TB of marine data, originating from more than 400 organisations and includes data collected for a range of scientific, policy, conservation and commercial uses. 

MEDIN built the portal to operate against its own geospatial discovery metadata profile, which ensures all relevant information about a marine dataset is readily available to allow a potential user to make an informed decision about whether it is pertinent. MEDIN maintains this profile, titled the “MEDIN Discovery Metadata Standard”, and provides tools to allow users to create the metadata that populates the MEDIN portal.

The MEDIN Discovery Metadata Standard was developed against UK GEMINI (hereafter referred to as GEMINI). This geospatial discovery metadata profile, owned by the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) is UK-focussed but complies with European and international standards. This was why it was considered the most suitable basis for MEDIN. While the MEDIN Discovery Metadata Standard was developed against GEMINI, it is not a duplicate of the GEMINI profile. MEDIN has adjusted the GEMINI profile to make it marine-specific, while continuing to adhere to the rules of GEMINI.

 The MEDIN Discovery Metadata Standard ensures that elements, as much as possible, are populated using terms from controlled vocabularies. Controlled lists served from the NERC Vocabulary Service (NVS) are used throughout the MEDIN profile. The MEDIN profile also requires that, where possible, at least one keyword to describe the dataset be taken from the SeaDataNet Parameter Discovery Vocabulary. This is a controlled vocabulary with worldwide marine exposure through the NVS service.

Resources are provided to generate MEDIN metadata on the MEDIN website standards page. These include the standard itself, a MEDIN-specific Schematron and two bespoke metadata generation tools. One of the tools is an online tool, hosted by DASSH and the other is an offline tool called Metadata Maestro, initially developed by SeaZone and now supported by HR Wallingford.

These tools ensure that metadata providers can meet their requirements to supply marine-specific GEMINI-compliant metadata, and the Schematron ensures that only valid records are presented on the MEDIN Data Discovery portal. Metadata Maestro provides users with an additional benefit, in that it allows users to extract and supply metadata in both MEDIN format or in standard GEMINI format only.

MEDIN considers the GEMINI profile to be an essential resource for geospatial metadata in the UK and will continue to both support it and develop the MEDIN standard from it, as this directly helps deliver MEDIN’s vision of marine data being F.A.I.R (Findable, Accessible, Inter-operable, Re-usable) and facilitates interoperability across disciplines.

Cefas joins the global network of IODE associated data units 

Cefas has recently been granted Associated Data Unit (ADU) status within the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission's (IOC of UNESCO) marine data programme, the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE).

The formal IODE announcement was made at the end of June.
IODE promotes the exchange of international marine data and its members are at the forefront of leading data quality, exchange and re-use. Cooperating with IODE and other ADU members will strengthen Cefas’ international work on marine data exchange, enhance knowledge and improve the flows of Cefas data into global databases such as OBIS (biodiversity) and the World Ocean Database (ocean observing and monitoring).  Membership will support enhanced data integration, discoverability, and reuse by those utilising traditional as well as Artificial Intelligence methods.

Initial IODE members were National Oceanographic Data Centres (NODCs) such as the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) in the UK, but to reflect the changing face of international marine data and to acknowledge the active cooperation of organisations like Cefas, IODE established a membership of Associated Data Units (ADU). Cefas now joins 29 other marine organisations worldwide with this status, including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and the Marine Biological Association (MBA). 

For further information please contact

Huge marine invertebrate collection archived safely 

This year, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales have worked together to curate over 12,000 marine invertebrate specimens collected from coastal and offshore waters around Wales by NRW and it’s predecessors. The specimens are made up of invertebrate species that were collected over the past decade during monitoring surveys, mainly from within Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Previously, the specimens were not stored to last long-term and were at risk of becoming damaged. Thanks to this partnership the specimens are now stored and maintained by the museum in a way that will last well into the future. The specimens will be stored in high quality vials and catalogued with a reference of where and when the species were found.

These references will be used to verify the identification of species collected in the future and update species names for past records. This will support our analysis and help keep track of changing marine habitats and invertebrate communities.

Matthew Green, Senior Marine Ecologist for NRW, said:

“Monitoring marine life by collecting samples and specimens is just one example of the work we do to monitor the diverse marine habitats around Wales. By monitoring marine communities and their habitats, we can make informed decisions to ensure these habitats are maintained and improved and that biodiversity is protected for future generations. The curation of our marine species collections will be a fantastic resource, not only for ourselves but for the wider scientific community. We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales on this project.”

Image above solea solea carmarthen bay, 2017

Teresa Darbyshire, senior marine curator at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, said:

“Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales marine invertebrate collections provide a detailed view of Welsh marine diversity not just by species but often across time and changing habitats and enable us to compare species from Wales with those from elsewhere around the UK and the wider world. Acquiring these monitoring collections will strengthen our representation of Welsh species and we are very pleased to collaborate with Natural Resources Wales to ensure that these specimens are accessible and safeguarded for the future. Should new species be discovered or names change then having these specimens will mean that the original identifications can be verified quickly and easily.”

Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales undertook and managed the project whilst NRW provided support and funding for the work.

The collection was completed in March 2020 and will provide a valuable and readily available resource to the scientific community in Wales and beyond. Natural Resources Wales and the museum encourage users of the collection to make their verified records available as electronic data through Data Archive Centres and the Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN).

Fish ecology and the windfarm construction conundrum!
The United Kingdom (UK) seabed holds some of the richest resources in the world, underpinning the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore wind. As manager of the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Crown Estate is uniquely placed to look at the bigger picture across a breadth of offshore sectors. The Marine Data Exchange (MDE) is one tool used by The Crown Estate to address key consenting and planning challenges through better data sharing and encouraging evidence-based decisions.

The MDE holds all survey data delivered to The Crown Estate through the lifetime of an offshore energy project; from feasibility studies through to decommissioning or repower. This includes an evidence base of all monitoring data collected during and after the construction phase of an offshore wind farm. The Crown Estate work closely with offshore developers and operators to ensure survey data held on the MDE meets the MEDIN Data Guideline standards.
Image above © Andy Pearson, ABPmer
We, ABPmer, worked with The Crown Estate to use this evidence base to undertake a project identifying insights and trends from post-construction survey data when compared to pre-construction surveys.

Firstly, we focussed on fish survey data to identify any trends and potential variation in fish ecology within offshore wind farms. As most survey data is MEDIN-compliant, essential information was included and was easy to extract, leading to some interesting findings.

Image right © Andy Pearson, ABPmer

Our evaluation found that it was possible to compare 57% of post-construction monitoring data to the pre-construction phase, with 46% of studies concluding that no change in fish ecology had taken place and a further 46% deeming that wind farm construction had a positive effect on fish ecology. We noted that, in 46% of studies, the most abundant species didn’t change between pre- and post-construction phases and the most frequently occurring species within wind farms were Whiting, Dab and Thornback Rays.

The evaluation highlighted differences in the collection and presentation of survey data, highlighting that succinct data tables ultimately make data extraction more efficient. Due to seasonal differences (amongst other factors) having the potential to influence species composition, consistencies in survey frequency and timing are needed to enable complete comparisons from pre-construction to post-construction.

We continue to analyse these initial insights and are analysing other types of survey data including benthic, birds and marine mammals. Read more about this in The Crown Estate’s 2019 Offshore Wind Operational Report.

Zoe Pearson, Marine Ecologist, ABPmer

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) improves data management and GIS capability

As global energy consumption increases and climate change makes headlines across the world, developing new technologies to harness energy from our oceans to generate electricity is now more important than ever.

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), established in 2003 and based in Orkney, Scotland, is the first and only centre of its kind in the world to provide developers of both wave and tidal energy converters with purpose-built, accredited open-sea testing facilities. 

EMEC, at the forefront of tidal and wave technology development, take data very seriously and realise the operational benefits that come from getting the best out of their investment in Geographic Information System (GIS) and employing a whole business approach to data management.

EMEC recently embarked on a project with marine data experts OceanWise to further improve GIS and data management capabilities. Throughout the project, OceanWise delivered training programmes in data management, QGIS and supported EMEC to convert their existing diverse datasets into a geospatial database. They also linked QGIS to existing data systems and implemented metadata management across the business.

Image above: Courtesy of EMEC

OceanWise also assisted EMEC to update their data policy and strategy and prepare a roadmap to include data management as part of their existing business management framework.

David Darbinyan, senior metocean engineer at EMEC explained:

“OceanWise provided EMEC with valuable support in managing our diverse datasets. OceanWise not only provided a high-level overview of best data management practices, but also supplied very concrete and hands-on steps to improve our existing approach. The feedback provided was tailored specifically for EMEC and allowed us to take full advantage of our existing Integrated Management System tools and processes.”

Why does data matter?

Data is now often referred to as the ’new oil or electricity’ as its intrinsic value to any organisation is only bettered by that of its employees. Whilst we are very good at collecting data - business data volumes are still doubling every 1.2 years - but with greater volumes of data, comes greater responsibility. If you want to optimise the value and usefulness of your data, then firstly you must make sure that it is properly managed.  

What is data management?

Data is often thought to be the responsibility of the Information Technology (IT), Information and Communications Technology (ICT) or Information Systems (IS) department but in reality, it is the responsibility of everyone in the business – a key part of the business management infrastructure, much like quality management or health and safety. Of course, systems and software have their role and can provide the ‘pipework’ or ‘plumbing’, but everyone is responsible for the data flowing through the pipes.

OceanWise’s 10 steps to Data Management Success (see below diagram) describes the key steps that any organisation must take to succeed on their data management improvement journey. A good starting point for any data management project is to prepare your vision – where do you want to be? Auditing your data is also a key step and should involve people from different departments working together to better understand what data they have, where it comes from and where it resides in the business, and how it is used and by whom. This will help the organisation overcome the ‘silo’ mentality and a lack of communication between departments that is often prevalent.

More information, useful tips, free publications and available training courses can be found on the OceanWise website at

More Events!

MEDIN Workshops for 2020 

The MEDIN core team are all working from home during COVID-19 lockdown

Work on the MEDIN discovery metadata standards and data guidelines is progressing as usual. The one piece of work that cannot go ahead as usual is the MEDIN Workshops.

Due to the nationwide lockdown, and for the health and safety of staff and attendees, we have postponed all planned workshops for this year until further notice. But don’t panic! We are investigating online alternatives to deliver a series of seminar presentations on MEDIN, discovery metadata, and controlled vocabularies, and walk-throughs of MEDIN’s tools and data guidelines.

Keep an eye on the MEDIN website and twitter page for updates, or email Roseanna ( if you would like to receive an email about the upcoming remote workshops once a schedule has been decided.

Introduction to Coastal & Marine GIS

13 – 15 October 2020

Highfield Campus, Southampton

Delivered by ABPmer’s experienced GIS consultants and GeoData’s GIS trainers, this three-day course uses case studies and hands-on activities to show how marine and coastal datasets support decision-making. 

Using ArcGIS v10.x, the course is structured around 11 modules that cover various GIS concepts and techniques.  As well as introducing marine data and GIS, the course considers common problems faced when mapping coastal and offshore environments.  There is also an opportunity to discuss with experts specific spatial data issues.

At the end of the course you will know and understand:

  • what GIS is, what spatial data is, raster and vector data models
  • the core tasks involved in GIS analysis including acquisition, storage, management, manipulation and presentation
  • the core functionality of ArcMap, ArcCatalog and the embedded ArcToolbox
  • how to import data and handle tables
  • georeferencing raster images
  • the creation and editing of spatial data
  • basic geoprocessing tasks
  • ModelBuilder basics 

Validated under the Association for Geographic Information CPD scheme and the GIS Certification Institute GIS Professional (GISP) Award. 

GeoData, University of Southampton, is a fully accredited RGS-IBG CPD Provider.

Fee: £695 (no VAT)

Please note; In light of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, course dates are subject to change, at the latest two weeks prior to course start.

For more information, contact Oliver Ringwood at ABPmer: 02380 711 869,  

To book, visit the GeoData website []

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