ODYSSEA 2nd Summer School session on Alonissos a ‘great success’

The EU-funded ODYSSEA project held its second summer school session, focusing on Oceanography and Fisheries in the Mediterranean, from September 2 to 6, 2019, on the Greek island of Alonissos, located in the Aegean Sea’s Northern Sporades archipelago inside the largest marine park of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, home of several monk seals. 

Organisers called the session, which built on the achievements of last year’s ground-breaking 1st ODYSSEA summer school, a “great success”, and noted its importance in advancing the ODYSSEA project overall. 

Eighteen qualifying trainees from across the Mediterranean participated in the summer school session, mostly marine and fish biologist, as well as a fishery administrator and an environmental regulation professional. Countries represented included, Morocco, Tunisia, Cyprus and Greece. 

“For the first time, people from outside the consortium, used the ODYSSEA platform and provided their assessment on this experience,” said Prof. Georgios Sylaios from DUTH, who coordinates ODYSSEA. 

Participants were divided into four teams and were given assignments providing services and producing data products for specific maritime and marine sectors: oil and gas, fisheries, ports and aquaculture. 

“This was something novel for the summer school. Also, for the first time we had opportunity to link oceanography with fisheries. This was very appreciated by the students,” Sylaios noted.

Sylaios stressed that ODYSSEA’s Alonissos summer school session constituted the first step towards exploiting the educational aspects of the ODYSSEA platform, which is currently being developed and improved on the basis of the comments received from the users during the summer school. 

The participants received 40 hours of direct training, eight hours each study day, and the training was given was very practical and in-depth, focusing on how to retrieve and process data from data platforms like Copernicus, user guide of the ODYSSEA platform, fish stock assessment and ecological models. Practical at the Alonissos National Marine Park included oceanographic surveying and marine mammals identification as well as demonstration of fishing gears and catches onboard two small-scale coastal vessels.    

The summer school was co-organised in partnership with the School of Biology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Department of Environmental Engineering at the Democritus University of Thrace, and with the support of the Thalassa Foundation. The central aim of the session was to introduce trainees to all stages of operational oceanography and fisheries, within the overall goal of the Blue Growth of the Mediterranean Sea.

Ahead of the session, organisers noted the importance of monitoring and forecasting phenomena related to the marine environment, as well as the challenges faced by oceanographers in doing so, due especially to climate change and the rising intensity of human coastal activities and their impacts (pollution, extensive fishing and aquaculture, coastal erosion, over-exploitation by tourism) over the past several decades. 

“The protection and sustainable economic exploitation of marine ecosystems requires real-time monitoring and operational prognostic modelling. In parallel, the vast volume of data concerning the marine environment collected both by satellites and on-site monitoring instruments is enormous and can be categorized as ‘Big Data’,” commented Prof. Sylaios. “All these data need to be retrieved, processed, interpreted and then fed into numerical models for reanalysis and forecasting. Ultimately this information should reach the end-users”.

The modules included in the summer school were:

  • Introduction to Operational Oceanography
  • Modern marine instrumentation and sensors
  • Sampling and surveying
  • Fisheries stock assessment and management
  • Marine ecological modelling

Trainees graduating from the 2nd ODYSSEA Summer School are now equipped to:

  • Understand the basic concepts of oceanography and fisheries science
  • Use the ODYSSEA project platform for retrieving, managing and processing oceanographic, environmental and fisheries data of the Mediterranean Sea
  • Retrieve and use oceanographic datasets, and explore international databases on the marine environment
  • Demonstrate awareness of latest developments in marine instruments and sensors used in field sampling for operational oceanographic monitoring
  • Assemble fisheries data and monitor marine mammal populations
  • Understand fisheries reference points and main stock assessment models and their applicability in fisheries management
  • Make use of ecological models and their role in marine ecosystem management

Further information on the summer school’s content and contributing lecturers is available here

AUTH practical onboard a fishing vessels
Searching for marine mammals onboard RV Odyssea on the way to oceanographic survey
ODYSSEA Platform lecture