With the launch of the Sentinel satellite series progressing, the task remains to adapt Europe’s use of Earth Observation data and integrate it into applications that can facilitate more informed decision making. However therein lies a challenge faced by EO researchers – to extract information relevant to end-users, and communicate it in a manner end-users understand, and can effectively use.
The aquaculture and fisheries sectors present obvious opportunities for solutions to be sought, with operational and planning decisions often made on the basis of limited data and information. These industries could significantly benefit from the availability of, and ease of access to satellite-derived information products, that can complement information from in-situ sensors and models.
The FP7-funded “Supporting our Fisheries and Aquaculture Industries” (SAFI) project (http://www.safiservices.eu) shall develop a decision support service specifically for these sectors. The pan-European collaboration is extracting information from Earth Observation data products, combining them with in-situ environmental data, species habitat and growth data, to derive a series of indicators which can inform operators and managers about factors affecting commercial species (e.g. habitat suitability, potential relative productivity levels, potential growth rates, physiochemical environmental conditions). All will be available via an online, web-GIS-based, decision support service providing information in a clear and easy to interpret manner.
Given the highly specific information needs of the project’s end-users, the SAFI project presents a valuable opportunity to develop best practice guidelines for all EO researchers on how to engage with, and derive their end-user needs. This shall ensure that, as much as possible, Earth Observation data is being processed, refined and delivered as targeted information that is of maximum benefit to the industry and related regulatory bodies, and fully exploits the potential that lies in our expanding EO capabilities.