Core activities | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Core activities

In order to accomplish its strategic objectives VLIZ gives priority to the performance of core activities.

The core activities of VLIZ are:

  • Supporting networks of marine scientists and other concerned parties, by offering a platform by means of the Scientific Committee, contributing to integrated projects and networks, organising meetings, conferences and scientific awards, issuing publications, mapping relevant expertise in Flanders, and promoting and presenting this expertise both in Belgium and abroad.
  • Detecting challenges and opportunities for marine research in Flanders, including collaboration with industry. VLIZ develops research agendas and aims to implement (incl. prospection, projects, partnerships, financing) the identified priorities. VLIZ is taking into account the most relevant parts of the already endorsed strategies, agendas and policy objectives (international, national or regional) by the Flemish government for its own research community. Research Initiatives are assessed and advised by the Scientific Committee, possibly through its thematic groups of experts.
  • Supporting marine scientific research by providing the research vessel ‘Simon Stevin’ and other research equipment and infrastructure for common use. VLIZ also contributes to the (inter)national planning, management and efficient use of marine research infrastructure. VLIZ offers technologies and expertise - also within European infrastructure networks - enabling initiation of infrastructure driven research projects and conducting research at the highest international level.
  • Managing and further developing the VLIZ data centre. The center develops innovative data systems, products, technologies and infrastructures to strengthen the excellence of marine sciences in Flanders and to allow valorisation of the growing volume of marine data in various ways. Within international networks, the data centre contributes to the development of data infrastructures to promote the flow of marine data to and from scientists, industry and policy makers. The data centre collects data (e.g. through multidisciplinary monitoring and sampling campaigns with the use of innovative techniques, the use of biosensors in permanent monitoring networks), develops innovative data processing, data analysis and –mining techniques and effective infrastructures for multidisciplinary 'big data' calculations. Flemish research groups are involved in the establishment and deployment of the infrastructure, including by initiating projects, organising data science workshops and helping generate data publications. The data centre actively integrates in international data networks and projects.
  • Managing the VLIZ library which is developing the most extensive collection of marine literature in Flanders for which it is the central point of contact. Information management by the VLIZ library allows for increased access to the various collections of physical documents, and contributes to the enhancement, visibility and use of the Flemish marine scientific output. The library further builds the collection with a focus on the free online availability of scientific information through the Open Marine Archive. The library brings together marine information in usable and searchable information products for the general public, the educational sector, the research community, the blue economy and policy.
  • supporting a sustainable and scientifically founded policy for the coastal zone, the marine areas and the adjacent estuaries by providing policy-relevant products and services to the marine research community, policy makers and industry. Within this scope, VLIZ ensures the production of the 'Compendium for Coast and Sea'. VLIZ initiates, promotes, and supports the implementation of multidisciplinary research that fills the identified knowledge gaps for the purpose of marine policy, in close cooperation with the knowledge partners in the Flemish marine research community.
  • Managing an information desk sharing qualitative sea-related information with various target groups (young and old, professional and general public, local and international, educational and research community) and in various existing and innovative formats. Based on thorough research and using innovative communication, VLIZ wants to stress the importance of the seas and ocean to the entire population ('Ocean Literacy’). The information desk answers all questions and furthermore provides information of its own accord by responding to current events and promoting Flemish marine scientific research through exhibitions, public meetings, publications, public presentations, website, seminars, workshops and symposia. VLIZ is involved on the communication policy from the Government.
  • Taking up mandates to represent the Flemish marine research community in the international marine scientific circles.
  • Representing the Flemish marine research community and/or assisting as an advisor in formal networks related to the Blue Economy. VLIZ will actively screen policy questions related to the Blue Economy across disciplines and provides an efficient flow of marine scientific knowledge for economic developments at sea.
  • Accommodating and supporting international organisations for the Flemish government such as the UNESCO/IOC Project Office for IODE, the European Marine Board secretariat and the EMODnet secretariat at the InnovOcean site in Ostend and the Joint Programming Initiative on Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans)secretariat in Brussels.
  • (Co-)organizing the Flemish contribution to marine research infrastructures of the ESFRI list, such as LifeWatch (e-Science and Technology European Research Infrastructure Consortium for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research), ICOS (the Integrated Carbon Observation System) and EMBRC (European Marine Biological Resource Centre) according to the specific modalities to be developed on a case by case basis.