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Citizen Science

Advancing Citizen Science for Seas and Ocean Research


Citizen Science involves members of the public in the observation, analysis and eventually also the design of scientific research. Benefits of this approach include enhancing monitoring capability, empowering citizens and increasing environmental awareness. There is a long background and history of citizen participation in science. However, the process of studying and understanding the best ways to develop, implement, and evaluate Citizen Science is just beginning and it has recently been proposed that research on the process and outcomes of Citizen Science merit acknowledgement as a distinct discipline.

At present, Citizen Science is predominantly associated with terrestrial projects. However, Citizen Science also has the potential to make significant contributions to marine sciences. Considering the vastness of the ocean, the extensiveness of the coastlines, and the diversity of habitats, communities, and species, a proper understanding of this realm requires intensive research activities over time and space which should lead to an increased consideration of Citizen Science as a powerful tool for the generation of scientific knowledge. Additionally, Citizen Science initiatives should be promoted because of their benefits in creating awareness of the challenges facing the world’s ocean and increasing Ocean Literacy.

Responding to these challenges, the European Marine Board launched Working Group Citizen Science in 2015 to provide new ideas and directions for further development of Marine Citizen Science. The Working Group and EMB are due to publish an EMB Position Paper (#23) entitled "Advancing Citizen Science in Seas and Ocean Research" in early 2017. The paper will be officially launched at a workshop entitled "The Greatest Coastal Monitoring Future: Citizens" during European Maritime Day 2017 on 18-19 May 2017, in Poole, UK.

Working Group Objectives

  • Identify common factors of success in Citizen Science programmes
  • Assess the types of marine data that are amenable to collection or analysis by non-specialists
  • Provide recommendations on best practice for incorporating Citizen Science into marine research projects, e.g. how to engage citizens and keep them engaged and how to best meet the expectations of both citizens and scientists
  • Based on the findings, provide overall recommendations for marine research that is most suitable for citizen science, provide new ideas and directions for Marine Citizen Science and outline what is needed to support Citizen Science in a marine context into the future


See the list here

  • Chair - Dr Carlos Garcia-Soto, Spanish Institute of Oceanography, Spain
  • Co-chair  - Gro I. van der Meeren, Institute of Marine Research, Norway

Picture from WG Citizen Science Kick-Off Meeting


Kick-off meeting, 18-19 February 2016, Ostend, Belgium
2nd meeting, 2-3 June 2016, Galway, Ireland

Relevant Events

  • Workshop 'The Greatest Coastal Monitoring Future: Citizens' will be organised by the European Marine Board and will take place at European Maritime Day 2017, in Poole, UK
  • Fifth European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA) conference will be held on 7-10 October 2017 in Valetta, Malta
  • Second International European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) Conference will be held on 3-5 June 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland

WG contact at Marine Board Secretariat: Paula Kellett Email and Niall McDonough Email