SNIMar (O Sistema Nacional de Informação do Mar - Preparation of Integrated Geographic Information for Marine and Coastal Water Management) was 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 affecting the usefulness of the existent marine data for target users. 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.
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.
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.
- April 2017: The project has held its' closing event in Lisbon in April 2017 and has officially ended. Although this is the formal end to the project, many of the partners involved feel that the work is just beginning. The aims and objectives have been achieved through the development of a marine Spatial Data Infrastructure which enables assimilation and sharing of of marine data, namely the development of a geoportal.
- On June 23rd, 2017 the project won an award of strategic recognition from the Journal of Sea Economy. We would like to congratulate the SNIMar project and all involved on this achievement.
- June 2018: the SNIMar project and geoportal were added to the EU MSP platform website. The European Maritime Spatial Planning Platform provides a single interface to draw together experience and expertise from across Europe and make it available in a readily accessible, implementation-oriented format. It serves as an exchange forum for all involved in MSP throughout Europe. This is a significant achievement because a spatial data infrastructure (SDI) for marine data in Portugal has been established, and the goal is to be able to share data among different institutions - both nationally within Portugal, but also internationally. In addition, the project and its' products have been made transparent, such that it can be reproduced by others.