Contact Person: Dr. Jan Seys
Role: WP4 leader (Mobilisation: Sea Action - where society and science meet Work Package)
Established in 1999, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ, Belgium) is the central coordination and information platform for marine and coastal scientific research in Flanders. VLIZ is a focal point for marine and coastal-related research and serves as an international point of contact in this respect. VLIZ is a government funded but autonomous institute with the legal status of a non-profit organisation. The institute does not conduct research, but performs scientific support tasks for the more than 1000 marine scientists in Flanders. This includes oceanographic data management, logistic assistance, ICT support and web services, the management of a marine library, coordination and networking tasks, and the provision of a wide range of marine information to various target groups. Its strategic objectives are to promote coastal and marine scientific research, to increase its visibility to the public at large by means of popularisation and sensitization, and to provide scientific information on the ocean, the seas and the coasts to policy makers. VLIZ facilitates a national network of marine scientists and other stakeholders by offering a platform, by organising events (meetings, workshops, conferences) and by issuing publications. VLIZ manages an information desk that provides objective scientific information to people in Flanders and abroad. It also responds to current events and promotes marine scientific research through participation in public events (yearly 10 - 30) and exhibitions, through publications and websites, and by organising and coorganising seminars, workshops and symposia. VLIZ is strongly embedded internationally through the participation in numerous international formal networks and projects. In 2008 VLIZ introduced the concept of Ocean Literacy from the US into Europe and developed this approach together with other partners. In October 2012, VLIZ took the lead in organising the First Conference on Ocean Literacy in Europe (Bruges): http://www.emsea.eu/info.php?pnum=28.
Key Personnel Involved:
Prof. dr. Jan Mees is the general director of the Flanders Marine Institute in Ostend since its establishment in 1999. He is trained as a marine biologist (MSc Zoology, MSc Environmental Sanitation, PhD Biology) at Ghent University, where he is part-time professor and has been teaching in data analysis, statistics, coastal ecosystems and fisheries. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 scientific publications, most of which in international journals with peer-review, and the author or co-author of 50+ reports. He is the editor of a suite of VLIZ publications, including the monthly electronic newsletter VLIZINE, public outreach newsletters, and several issues of VLIZ Special Publications and occasional publications. Jan Mees is chair of the European Marine Board, and member of several European and global oceanography and marine biodiversity networks (e.g. POGO, MARS, EurOcean).
Dr. Jan Seys is the head of the Communication department of VLIZ. He is a marine biologist by training, having worked in marine and estuarine research in Belgium & the Netherlands (10 years) and as a managing director (2 years) of a bilateral Kenya-Belgium cooperation in marine sciences. He has educational experience as a teacher, tourist guide and developer of learning platforms and produced more than 200 publications on marine and estuarine science & outreach. Since 2006 he is the chair of the European Marine Board Communications Panel, and member of the News & Information group of the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO). In these functions, he developed a wide-ranging expertise in communicating scientific information to policy-makers, researchers, schools and the public at large. Under his coordination VLIZ is producing various publications, developing outreach activities and (co)organizing 10-30 local, national and international events on an annual basis.
Dr. Nancy Fockedey is senior scientific assistant of the Communication division of VLIZ. She is trained as marine biologist with research experiences in Europe and in the tropics (Ecuador) on the ecology and population dynamics of estuarine and beach fauna. At VLIZ she is operational at the info desk (providing marine information to multiple stakeholders) and the editor of the monthly electronic newsletter VLIZINE, the magazine De Grote Rede, the institutional website and annual report. She is the co-author or lector of several ad-hoc publications for the public at large - often about seafood (e.g. commercial book on the brown shrimp, several seafood cook books, a seafood species information guide for professional users, etc.). She was the initiator and co-organiser of several Ocean Literacy projects like "Marine Art", where marine scientists and art students jointly worked towards a marine art exhibition, the intergenerational oral history project "Peeling shrimp and oral history", etc.
Karen Rappé is a senior scientific assistant of the Communication division of VLIZ. She has an academic background in biology (Ghent University) where she worked as a researcher for Belgian science programs that focused on the impact of pollution on the coastal ecosystem. Karen joined VLIZ in 2010 and gained experience in science communication through participation in plural EU FP7 projects (CLAMER, CSA Marine Biotech, MERMAID, Sea for Society), more specific in the organisation of conferences, outreach actions and the creation of a broad range of communication outputs (e.g. websites, social media, annual report, profiling material, newsletters, multimedia, etc.). She has a special interest in science communication where it deals with the Flemish research vessel Simon Stevin, the Marine Station Ostend and oceanographic sampling equipment in general.
Evy Copejans is a senior scientific assistant at the Communication division of VLIZ in Ostend, Belgium where she is responsible for ocean education since 2006. After graduating as a geography teacher, she was rewarded with the prize for best thesis `The North Sea, Mare Incognitum´, stating that the ocean was hardly mentioned in the geography curriculum and advising policy makers how to revise the curriculum. In her job she primarily creates a variety of marine science projects, lesson materials, teacher workshops and excursions. She is co-author of several public outreach articles and publications, including the first textbook in Dutch on marine science for teachers. Evy Copejans is also a board member of the Flemish Geography Teachers (VLA) and cofounder of the European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA), a sister organization of the National Marine Educator Association (NMEA) in the United States. EMSEA is the platform for ocean education and enhancing Ocean Literacy in Europe.
Laure Van Medegael is a scientific assistant of the Communication division of VLIZ. She is trained as a biologist (MSc Evolution, MSc functional biology) at Ghent University. After graduating in 2014, she gained experience in organizing events and communication at a start-up event hall (concerts, comedy, exhibits, etc.). Laure joined VLIZ in April 2015 to work on the Sea Change project and to help organize and coordinate outreach events like World Ocean Day.