EurOCEAN 2023 Conference

On 10-11 October 2023, our representative of AquaBioTech Group Ines Boujmil, had the pleasure to attend the EurOCEAN 2023 conference and join the discussions about “One Ocean, One Mission, One Decade – One Voice” as an in-person event at the Auditorio y Palacio de Congresos Mar de Vigo, Vigo, Galicia, Spain.  

As we are entering a new phase that goes from mobilization via the Mission Charter and the Ocean Decade Actions, to rally our efforts and work together to see the impact of our collective commitment and engagement, and investigate how we will meet these objectives for 2030. 

This wonderful conference was anticipated by The 1st EMB Early Career Ocean Professional (ECOP) Network Forum was held on 8-9 October 2023 at the Cidade da Cultura, Santiago de Compostela, Spain. As Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOPs) are interested to engage in the marine science-policy discussions, the European Marine Board Young Ambassadors organized a 2-day EMB ECOP Network Forum to give early careers the opportunity to learn about the European science-policy landscape and receive hands-on training how to interact with and effectively communicate their science to policymakers.  

The reflections and recommendations from this event on future engagement of ECOPs in the science-policy sphere were presented at the EurOCEAN 2023 conference. 

These two connected events where in line with the ECOP Programme objectives as our Mediterranean sub-regional coordinator Ines Boujmil was present to share the ECOP’s vital contribution to the UN Ocean Decade, together with Experienced Ocean Professionals (EOPs), as well as growing our ECOP network and working together under the umbrella of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. 

The Conference topics were spinning around: 

  • Enabling ecosystem-based management for fisheries and conservation 
  • Addressing pharmaceutical pollution from inland to sea 
  • Transforming ports at the interface between land, society and the Blue Economy 
  • Ensuring ocean knowledge in the age of the Digital Ocean 
  • Changing humanity’s relationship with the ocean: art as agent of change 
  • Coastal resilience and Blue Carbon in Europe 
  • What’s next: rallying actions for our Ocean and Waters 

One of the appealing sessions was related to addressing pharmaceutical pollution from inland to sea, as it is essential to consider that our planet is part of « one common health » approach. Many pollutants, including microplastics, are very know across societies, yet pharmaceutical pollution needs to be introduced to our society and stakeholders, in order to explore the very origin of this concern. 

Understanding our priorities and needs from different disciplines is vital, along with elaborating a state of the art then identifying our strategic actions to and close the tap of this harmful pollution, based on the different conditions and regulations of countries. 

Transdisciplinary projects, initiatives and recommendations should be prioritized as we are still working in silos. One example is the importance of involving business and private sectors in cocreating research goals, the reason why we are onsite from AquaBioTech Group to contribute to the sustainable blue economy. 
The SMARTPOL project represented by AquaBioTech Group, was communicated during the discussions as it focuses on presenting a novel compact pollution detection, monitoring and analysis system to monitor marine fields and to detect different types of marine pollution. The system will mainly consist of Shore Control Centre (SCC) and unmanned surface vessel (USV), both equipped with multi–sensor technology and AI based solutions. It will be highly effective to continue upgrading the research and technologies as we aim to identify more pollutants and assess their impacts.

Another session of interest was dedicated to Ensuring Ocean knowledge in the age of the digital Ocean, as we had the honour to follow the presentation by Elisabetta Balzi, Head of Unit, Deputy Director Healthy Planet from the European Commission, introducing the major role of the Mission Ocean in restoring our Ocean and waters. 

Are you ready to contribute to a sustainable future? Endorse the Mission Charter and join forces for a healthy blue planet. AquaBioTech Group as a business stakeholder is ready to join this blue momentum and to co-create solutions for a brighter future.  

As we are discussing digital technologies, it is essential to apply this innovation on all ocean fields including the protection and preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage, thus our project coordinator had the pleasure to introduce to the conference participants our Horizon Europe project BCTHubs, which has an innovative technology/research goal focusing on the development of a cross-border joint R&I Strategy for the Hubs’ operation as well as the establishment of an EU-wide BCT Cluster, contributing to the main goal of the Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by joining forces from research/academia, businesses, public sector, and societal actors. 


One of our dearest sessions was related to Ocean Literacy, titled Changing humanity’s relationship with the Ocean: art as agent of change, in line with the UN Ocean Decade challenge 10. Many impactful presentations described how Art is powerful as a common language for blue humanity, as our connection with the Sea was always communicated through generations and civilizations, in poetry, novels and literature. To this respect, emotions influence decision-making and Ocean literacy generates knowledge. 

Artists, musicians, graphic designers, painters, and all creative Ocean contributors are needed in the UN Ocean to maximise the impact and stress the importance of creating a better blue planet.