Humans have interacted with the Ocean since ancient times, using it as a means of transportation, recreation, a source of food and raw materials and, more recently, to generate renewable energy.
Although the ocean can benefit human health and boost wellbeing by facilitating recreational and relaxation activities, it can also pose risks to human health – through factors such as flooding and pollution. This complicated mix of threats and opportunities interact in ways we don’t fully understand. Exploring these relationships is the basis for an emerging scientific discipline called “Oceans and Human Health”.
As a maritime continent, conducting research in this area is important for Europe, its inhabitants, and its Ocean. So the European Commission has funded Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe (SOPHIE), a research programme which will help protect the ocean, harness its health benefits, and reduce its risks. SOPHIE will bring marine and environmental scientists together with medical and social scientists, public health and other experts to tackle these complicated issues. SOPHIE is nurturing a network of people and organisations interested in the links between oceans and human health, and exploring how marine tourism and citizen science can contribute to this exciting area of research.
The project is gathering information from many different sources and will look to the future and develop a ‘research road map’, setting the course for scientists to gather evidence and inform policies which will enhance and protect both human health and the health of the marine environment.
European Union, Horizon 2020
- UNIVERSITY OF EXETER, UK (co-ordinator)
- NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND GALWAY, Ireland
- SEASCAPE BELGIUM, Belgium
- STICHTING DELTARES, Netherlands
- RIJKSINSTITUUT VOOR VOLKSGEZONDHEID EN MILIEU, Netherlands
- BREAKAWAY TRAVEL, Spain
- ASSOCIACIO SUBMON: DIVULGACIO, ESTUDI I CONSERVACIO DE L’ENTORN NATURAL, Spain
- EUROPEAN MARINE BOARD IVZW, Belgium