The ocean - now available online

June 11, 2002

Brussels, 10 June 2002

On 5 June 2002, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) announced the launch of a new online atlas of the world's oceans to combat their unsustainable exploitation.

Launched on World Environment Day last week, and following ten years of planning and two and a half years of development, the FAO describe the atlas as the most ambitious global scientific information collaboration ever online. The atlas is an information system designed for use by policy-makers who need to find out about ocean issues; and by scientists, students and resource managers who need access to underlying information and different approaches to sustainability. It should also serve as an international consensus-building tool.

Maps galore

The online atlas presents 14 global maps and links to hundreds of others, including 264 maps showing the distribution of fishery resources. A further 100 maps show global ice cover, navigation routes, earthquakes and volcanic activity, as well as ocean temperature gradients, bottom contours, salinity and other ocean-based characteristics. With this level of coverage, the atlas is ideally equipped to spotlight the issues contributing to the decline in marine ecosystems. As Dr Jacques Douf, Director General of the FAO says, "The oceans play a crucial role of sustaining life on Earth." He adds, "This important new tool will allow us to monitor and pay attention to problems in a way that hasn't been possible in the past." In addition to the website, a CD-ROM will be produced with other media so that a wider audience can be reached.

Contacts: john.everett@fao.org

More information on this subject: http://www.oceansatlas.org/

DG Research
http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/research/ index_en.html

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