Humans have interacted with the Ocean since ancient times. We have used it as a means of transportation, recreation, a source of food and raw materials, and more recently to generate renewable energy.
Whilst the ocean can benefit human health and boost wellbeing via activities like recreation and relaxation, 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 funded Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe, a research programme to help protect the ocean, harness its health benefits, and reduce its risks.
SOPHIE brought marine and environmental scientists together with medical and social scientists, public health and other experts to tackle these complicated issues in a unique forum.
SOPHIE nurtured a network of people and organisations interested in the links between oceans and human health, and explored how marine tourism and citizen science can contribute to this exciting area of research.
The project gathered information from many different sources: from citizens; from research findings; from data repositories; and from existing European policies. SOPHIE also looked to the future to develop a ‘research road map’, setting the course for scientists to gather evidence and inform future policies to enhance and protect both human health and health of the oceans.
These recommendations are SOPHIE’s legacy and will advance this field across Europe and the world.
Project partners across Europe
The Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 774567.
By stimulating research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is producing world-class science that enables Europe’s public and private sectors to work together in delivering solutions to 21st century challenges.
Read more about Horizon 2020 and the projects it funds.