The first session of the IODE Steering Group for OBIS took place at the IOC Project Office for IODE, in Oostende. During this first Session the SG reviewed the current status of OBIS, with special emphasis on the progress of its integration into IOC/IODE. Delegates representing the OBIS Nodes presented their latest achievements, aims for 2012 as well as their main gaps. A common problem of most Nodes is understaffing as well as lack of financial sustainability. Altogether, OBIS contains now over 30 million records, and 1,000 datasets. Technical details of the database were extensively discussed and possibilities for improvement. Short to long-term objectives were extensively discussed, including linking with other biodiversity databases, relation to new data providers, metadata policy, multi-language platforms, outreach and collaboration with other international programmes and initiatives. OBIS financial sustainability and external funding opportunities were discussed. The iMarine Project, as the main source of funding for the OBIS Project Office was discussed. Specific goals for OBIS were defined with-in the UNESCO Mid-Term Strategy (2008-2013) and IOC/IODE program priorities. A team based approach for operation of OBIS was established. OBIS will operate as a distributed infrastructure of nodes with leadership and coordination from the project office. Many tasks will be implemented through the nodes. Each task will be assigned a volunteer champion who will ensure that the task is completed on time. Additional volunteers will be sought on projects requiring a larger effort. A plausible approach for sustained operations of the Project Office will be included in the business plan. The plan is due to be completed in the early spring. Some of the key areas will be to closely link with IODE's programmes such as the Ocean Data Portal (ODP) and OceanTeacher.
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OBIS strives to document the ocean's diversity, distribution and abundance of life. Created by the Census of Marine Life, OBIS is now part of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, under its International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme.