Opening up data access

A regulatory context that facilitates Open Science

Open Science

The data archived by Ifremer is generally qualified as "environmental data". It is intended to be widely distributed at low or no cost, even although open data access does not exempt the user from complying with the restrictions on intellectual property.

In this respect, European INSPIRE Directive comprises obligations concerning data description (metadata) and access to acquired data. Oceanographic data is covered by this directive.

Access restrictions may be justified however in certain cases:

  • need to protect French and foreign rights in the exclusive economic zone (protect resources, national defence),
  • management of nominative data whose distribution must comply with the rules of the French data protection authority, CNIL,
  • sensitive data on protected species,
  • contractual provisions established when the data was obtained,
  • temporary exclusivity (in general 2 years) granted to the "inventor" of given scientific data to give them time to process and promote said data through publications.

In France, this open data policy has directly resulted in the creation of distributed institution systems such as the water information system (SIEau), the nature and landscape information system (SINP), the fisheries and aquaculture information system and the national sea and shoreline observatory (ONML). Jointly run by the French Ministry of Environment, Energy and the Sea (MEEM), Ifremer and the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB), ONML is a key resource for disseminating environmental sea and shoreline data to the public.

Furthermore, the Etalab mission, placed under the auspices of the French Prime Minister within the General Secretariat for the Modernisation of Public Action (SGMAP), aims to support the provision of open access to public data belonging to the State and public administrations. In this respect, it implements and operates an open public data platform “” which hosts datasets and records their uses. Open geographical data produced and distributed by Ifremer thus rightly belongs on this platform.