SNIMar (O Sistema Nacional de Informação do Mar - Preparation of Integrated Geographic Information for Marine and Coastal Water Management) is funded by the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area 2009-2014, under the European Economic Area Grants (EEA Grants.
In April 2005 the Portuguese Government created a task group for the extension of the Continental shelf (EMEPC) to prepare Portugal's claim to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). On May 11th, 2009 Portugal submitted an application.
The extension of the Portuguese maritime domain covers about 1.71 million square kilometres. To this area, a potential 2.15 million km2 surface is added, corresponding to the extension of the Portuguese continental shelf under article 76 of UNCLOS, totalizing an area close to 4 million square kilometres of national maritime jurisdiction.
This marine jurisdiction encompasses a collection of rights and responsibilities for Portugal. These can be carried out not only by performing scientific research and marine exploration, both in the water column or in the soil and subsoil, but also by preventing and protecting the marine environment. These activities demand access to existent marine data and information in order to achieve an efficient and effective process.
The maritime activities are carried out by several organizations, public and private, that collect, process and generate several types of marine data to fulfil their operational needs. These interact with each other in a bilateral manner in what concerns data access. Overlapping operative areas usually require the use of similar data as base/background information. Although desirable, there is no access to such a common data source for the multiple stakeholders, implying replication of data, lack of data sync and additional time to locate and access the data.
The Decree-Law 7/2012 article 34 4-h of January 17th and the Resolution of the Council of Ministers NR 3/2011 10-i of January 12th formally mandated that EMEPC should “Maintain and update the database structure to support the extension of the continental shelf project creating the basis foundation for the national system of monitoring and integrated management of the ocean”. Thus, a base information structure was prepared to hold a variety of data types collected for the project, yet modern web-based dissemination and access technologies were not available.
In addition there lies a major problem of interoperability among the stakeholders, who do not always prepare the information in accordance with guidelines. Thus affaecting the usefulness of the existent marine data for targetusers. To overcome this limitation it is necessary to set a national policy applied to marine data and establish an efficient Spatial Data Infrastructure to implement such policy.
The Project results from Portugal’s obligation to implement the spatial data infrastructure in accordance with the Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE). This commitment is reinforced by the Portuguese Decree-Law 180/2009.
It is planned that the long-term impact of the project will help to promote principles of sustainable development and better integrate the requirements of the environment in the field of spatial planning, with special emphasize to coastal zone management. Using the management system in the process of planning will improve coordination of investment and economic activities with environmental conditions allowing to reduce its negative impact on the environment.
The overall objective is to achieve good environmental protection and management of European marine and inland waters. The goal is to achieve this through the development of a Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure, which will enable assimilation and sharing of the large diversity of marine data that exists throughout all marine institutions, but also for integrated marine and inland water management.
EMEPC kicked off the project in style at sea, with a showcase of how they collect marine data aboard the vessels moored along the coastline.They have begun training of partners from each organization which will supply marine data to the marine SDI in issues such as how to create metadata for the data they possess, how to register their data in a metadata catalogue, etc. Both the Norwegian Mapping Authority and the Land Survey of Iceland who are co-donor project partners have contributed to this training.