Sixth Session of the IODE Steering Group for OBIS (SG-OBIS-VI) 1-3 February 2017, Okinawa, Japan

Meeting Report


Executive Summary

The 6th session of the IODE Steering Group for OBIS took place on 1-3 February 2017 and was kindly hosted by the Japanese OBIS node based at JAMSTEC’s Global Oceanographic Data Center (GODAC) in Nago, Okinawa (Japan). The meeting was attended by 31 participants from 17 countries representing 17 OBIS nodes.

The OBIS steering group welcomed the proposed OBIS-ENV-DATA standard for combined biological, environmental, and sampling methodology (documented in However, the full and timely implementation of the OBIS-ENV-DATA standard will require additional resources at IODE-OBIS to develop the infrastructure to fully exploit and expose OBIS-ENV-DATA as well as develop the necessary documentation and training so all the OBIS nodes can take advantage of the new practice.

The OBIS capacity development strategy 2017-2021 was welcomed which proposes to adapt future training courses according to the needs of different target groups, in which the OBIS nodes and OBIS trainers are currently a priority. With support from IOC’s OceanTeacher Global Academy (OTGA) and its regional training centres, at least 7 OBIS training courses will be organized in 2017. All the training material is freely available through the OceanTeacher e-learning platform. Of interest is the decision from the CBD/COP13 (decision 12, December 2016), which requests the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to establish a partnership with OBIS to develop training opportunities to support the future description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas and to link the EBSA repository with OBIS.

The success of OBIS depends on the active role of the OBIS nodes. A dedicated webpage will characterize the data contributions (from data provider to OBIS node) as well as technical, data product development and funding contributions of each OBIS node to the OBIS enterprise. Some OBIS nodes, however, have become inactive and the OBIS Steering Group adopted the OBIS node health status check and transition strategy as a process to follow up on those nodes and support them to find a solution. In addition, the Asian OBIS nodes have developed a strategy in which the development of a regional network will strengthen the local OBIS nodes.

Important technical developments will take place during the next intersessional period, in which a complete new OBIS infrastructure and technology stack (OBIS2.0) will be developed. This will enable OBIS to: (i) achieve near real-time data integration from OBIS Nodes, (ii) the ability to upscale the system, (iii) support data types beyond species occurrences (OBIS-ENV-DATA), (iv) improve on the real-time analytics capability for research and online applications, (v) allow limited embargo on data release and (vi) improve data traceability and provenance. The OBIS2.0 reengineering will require active contributions from technical partners in the OBIS network.

A powerful OBIS system is critical to stimulate research and development in which OBIS data services are used in developing new products that inform biodiversity status and trends, conservation status, and other metrics needed for CBD (specifically Aichi Targets), GOOS, GEO BON MBON, IPBES, SDG14 and other international initiatives. OBIS can still rely on active engagement and investment from its members in the OBIS network. However, there is a need to better balance project-based funding, which has the benefit of keeping the system moving in new and fresh ways, with the need for structural funding to ensure long-term stability.

Decisions and Recommendations




OBIS governance task team

OBIS data task team

OBIS capacity development task team

OBIS taxonomy task team

OBIS technical task team

OBIS science advisory task team

OBIS communication and outreach task team



The 7th session of the IODE Steering Group for OBIS will be held on 12-16 March 2017 in Argentina.