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About the AORA Working Group

This working group is comprised of marine microbiome researchers from Canada, the European Union, and the United States of America.Work Package 6 of the EU Horizon 2020 coordination and support action initially supported this working group as part of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) between Canada, the European Union, and the United States of America. Apart from the network brought about by the Working Group, two other significant achievement of the working group are the AORA Marine Microbiome Roadmap and a High- Level Briefing Document.  These all arose out of three workshops that were held, in Brussels in June 2019, in Reykjavik in October 2019 and in Halifax in January 2020. A diverse group of stakeholders participated in this work and the outcome, as presented here, is a result of extensive consultation with those who directly participated in the workshops well as others that were invited to comment on the work as it progressed.


We are on the threshold of a new and exciting era of discovery in the oceans that will shape the development of human endeavours for decades to come. New insights on the significance of the microscopic scale of ocean life has shown this level affects almost every aspect of our lives (health, food, industry, ecosystems). For society’s future, we need to investigate the science of marine microbiomes, integrate the novel technologies discovered and initiate policies that foster truly sustainable marine development.


The United Nations will dedicate the next decade to Ocean Science for Sustainable Development – “The Science we need for the Ocean we want” (  The Decade’s vision and mission are consistent with the objective of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) between Canada, the European Union and the United States of America, that is to “advance the shared vision of an Atlantic Ocean that is healthy, resilient, safe, productive, understood and treasured, to promote the well-being, prosperity and security of the Atlantic for present and future generations”.

The core team of the Working Group:

  • Margaret Rae (Chair) - Independent Consult & Entrepreneur

  • Shawn Robinson (Co-Chair) - Fisheries & Oceans Canada

  • Kelly Goodwin (Co-Chair) - US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • Sigurdur Björnsson - The Icelandic Centre for Research, Rannis

  • Lydur Skuli Erlendsson - The Icelandic Centre for Research, Rannis

  • Henk Bolhuis - Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)

  • René Groben - Matis, Icelandic Food and Biotech R&D

  • Danielle Iudicone - Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn

  • Anais Lacoursiere-Roussel - Fisheries & Oceans Canada

  • Pier Luigi Buttigieg - Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research

  • Stéphane Pesant - EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute

  • Teresa Lettieri - European Commission Joint Research Centre

  • Jörn Schmidt - International Council for the Exploration of the Sea,  ICES

  • Alice Ortmann - Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada

The Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation

A shared vision of an Atlantic Ocean that is Healthy and Productive

"This cooperation may result in mutual benefits including ecosystem assessments and forecasts and deeper understanding of vulnerabilities and risk, including those relating to the global climate system and climate change impacts. It can also help to generate new tools to increase resilience, conserve rich biodiversity, amage and determine social, environmental and economic priorities". (May 24, 2013)

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