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Towards a shared vision for new challenges in data management

View Fiona’s presentation on the African Marine Atlas.
Participants in the IODE 50th Anniversary International Conference.
Academic Hall of the University of Liège in Belgium where the conference took place (Picture: Fiona Cuff)
Fiona Cuff, Data Support Contractor, SAEON Egagasini Node


Earlier this year, I was invited to attend the IODE(International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange) 50th Anniversary International Conference in Liège, Belgium and to present on the African Marine Atlas.

The IODE, a programme of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, was established in 1961 with the purpose of enhancing marine research and development. The exchange of oceanographic data and information between member states is facilitated by the IODE and aims to meet the needs of users for data and information products (Kalenchits et al. 2011).

The Anniversary International Conference was organised to demonstrate the IODE’s contribution to capacity building and society’s needs for data and information products, as well as its vision for new challenges which the data and information management communities are facing. The conference focused on the network activities and achievements of the IODE, future user needs and how these could possibly be addressed, as well as issues related to the relationship between acquisition, archiving and the users’ data needs (Kalenchits et al. 2011).

The conference was held in the Academic Hall of the University of Liège. The programme consisted of four sessions -- Ocean Data Products and Services, Marine Information Products and Services, Benefits of IODE Training and Capacity Building, and Future Perspectives. The conference provided an excellent overview of the achievements and projects of the IODE and included presentations from well-known names such as Dr Watson-Wright and Sydney Levitus.

African Marine Atlas: An Opportunity for African Coastal Management

My presentation, titled African Marine Atlas: An Opportunity for African Coastal Management, was included in the Benefits of IODE Training and Capacity Building sessions and was created and presented in collaboration with Angora Aman (Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem Regional Coordinator) and Mika Odido (UNESCO/IOC Project Office for IODE). The presentation focused on the rationale for developing such an atlas, how it is applicable to coastal management, the manner in which it has been developed so far, and its current progress and future targets.

I became involved in the African Marine Atlas in July 2010 through the Ocean Data and Information Network for Africa (ODINAFRICA), and represent South Africa on behalf of the Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems Project (ASCLME). My participation in the Atlas is in collaboration with Mthuthuzeli Gulekana from the Department of Environmental Affairs: Oceans and Coasts, who is the South African National Coordinator for ODINAFRICA.

I would like to thank Angora Aman and Mika Odido for affording me the opportunity to present at this prestigious international conference, as well as the IOC for funding my attendance.

The conference venue was remarkable and the dinner and Achievement Award Ceremony at the Cloister of the Saint-Paul Cathedral was an unforgettable experience. Thank you to all involved!


Kalenchits, M., Simpson, P., Goovaerts, M. & Pikula, L. (Eds). 2011. The IODE Anniversary Bibliography: 50 years of service, 1961-2011. Paris: UNESCO, 247 pp. (Information document series, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, IOC/INF 1278)

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