The ground-breaking EU-China collaborative project EMOD-PACE (EMODnet Partnership for China and Europe) has now entered its second month in April 2020 after kicking-off mid-February. The project is the result of continued efforts in Europe and China following high-level conferences and forums during the EU-China Blue Year 2017 which culminated in a Blue Partnership for the Ocean signed by the EU and China on 16 June 2018. This Partnership has marked the beginning of a new phase of strategic EU-China ocean relations and sets out a comprehensive and holistic framework for our cooperation in the domain of the oceans. The shared objective of the Partnership is to ensure effective ocean governance for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources. Key aims include sustainable fisheries, a thriving maritime economy and a healthy oceans and their resources. The overall aim of the EU EMOD-PACE project is to promote international ocean governance with China and support the implementation of global commitments by making ocean marine data and data products more easily accessible and by providing better data and data products. More specifically, the project establishes closer collaboration between the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) and its Chinese counterpart the National Marine Data and Information Service (NMDIS). Together with NMDIS (China), the participating EMOD-PACE partners bring together leading European marine data management infrastructures, policy makers and top-level marine researchers.
Unfortunately, due to the global COVID-19 health crisis the physical inception meeting originally planned to take place in March 2020 in Tianjin (China) has been postponed until the end of this year. As a result, project teams from Europe and China had to establish contact remotely, but despite the initial setback the remote exchanges are leading to steady progress at this time. A contingency action plan led by the Project Coordination Office (PCO) was made to identify and advance any work than can be achieved through remote interactions ahead of a physical meeting. At this initial stage of project implementation, the steps taken to mitigate any negative impacts were discussed with Chinese colleagues. We are happy to see the joint efforts of EU and China are underway and good progress made toward the project goals and expected outputs. Consistent and effective collaboration with NMDIS is being built and all main tasks are expected to be achieved with hopefully only minor delays caused by the prevailing global pandemic. Meanwhile, both Chinese and European colleagues continue to collaborate on the workplans and the sharing of data and information and look forward to meeting in person at the end of the year.