EU ocean conference targets climate change

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An ocean conference of the European Union opened Tuesday in the southern Belgian city of Ostend to outline the research and policy needs for the next decade.

Experts from the European marine science community gathered for the EurOCEAN 2010, a two-day forum organized by Belgium, which is holding the rotating EU presidency, in collaboration with the European Commission and the Marine Board.

They are expected to adopt the Ostend Declaration, which will provide a significant opportunity to show the importance of oceans and marine research in different fields, such as climate change, employment, maritime transport, renewable energy, job creation, economic recovery and growth.

"Building a maritime policy without a strong maritime research is like building a sand castle when the tide is coming in," said Maria Damanaki, EU commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries.

Since 2007, the EU's Seventh Framework Program for Research has funded some 345 marine-related projects amounting to 733 million euros (about 1.01 billion U.S. dollars). The European Commission also adopted a "Marine Knowledge 2020" to reduce costs for the marine sector, increase innovation and reduce uncertainty in future ocean behavior.

The European Commission would also welcome future research on "bioprospecting," on non-energy mineral resources, on renewable energy and on safe technology for offshore gas and oil drilling in extreme climates.

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