ICAN is a project of UNESCO IOC´s IODE Programme, and ICAN members seek to play a leadership role in forging international collaborations of value to the participating nations, thereby optimizing regional governance in coastal zone management and marine spatial planning.


We live on a blue planet, with oceans and seas covering more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface. Oceans feed us, regulate our climate, and generate most of the oxygen we breathe. Some 37 per cent of the world's population lives within 100 km of the coast. (UNEP)


CWAs are "...collections of digital maps and datasets with supplementary tables, illustrations, & information that systematically illustrate the coast, oftentimes with cartographic & decision support tools, all of which are accessible via the Internet."  O'Dea et al., 2007


Membership in ICAN is open to all interested parties who agree to the mission & objectives of ICAN, including those with an operational coastal web atlas, as well as those hoping to design and build a coastal web atlas in the future.
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ICAN Workshop 3 and EEA Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 2008

Submitted by dawn on 21 October 2008 - 1:11am

Over recent years, there has been significant development in various countries worldwide of national and regional coastal atlases based on web-enabled geographic information systems (GISs). These internet-based resources (also known as coastal web atlases) are of great value to decision makers, scientists and anyone interested in coastal environmental issues.

Experts gathered this summer to influence the further development of such atlases at the third international coastal mapping and informatics workshop and European conference, scheduled back-to-back on 7-11 July 2008 at the European Environment Agency (EEA) in Copenhagen, Denmark. The technical workshop was organized by the emerging International Coastal Atlas Network(ICAN), and followed the transatlantic workshops “Potentials and Limitations of Coastal Web Atlases” (University College Cork, Ireland, 2006) and “Coastal Atlas Interoperability” (Oregon State University, USA, 2007). The EEA coastal atlas conference followed the workshop and had the objective to inform EEA partners about the development of coastal atlases.

At the workshop in Cork, a number of coastal web atlases from North America and Europe were presented and various issues related to their development were discussed. At the second workshop in Oregon, expert participants learned how to use controlled vocabularies and ontologies in order to build a common approach to managing and disseminating coastal data, maps and information. This workshop stimulated the development of a demonstration (proof-of-concept) prototype to inter-relate metadata and other information between two coastal web atlases (the Marine Irish Digital Atlas or MIDA) and the Oregon Coastal Atlas or OCA). The prototype uses Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards, namely Catalogue Services for the Web (CSW), with registered Web Map Services (WMS). The proof-of-concept demonstration may be useful for informing the development of an Atlas of the Seas for the European Union and regional networks of coastal web atlases.

The ICAN workshop on 7-9 and 11 July 2008 focused on:

1. exhibiting the atlas interoperability proof-of-concept, in development since summer 2007, and validating first outcomes;

2. informing and attracting a larger population of potential stakeholders of the activity, and promoting an exchange of related developments in coastal and ocean information services;

3. developing a long-term strategy for effective governance of ICAN and design of further applications.

Participants included ICAN representatives from relevant institutions developing coastal atlases and networks in Belgium, Ireland, South Africa, UK, USA, and beyond (including the emerging Caribbean Marine Atlas and the African Marine Atlas).

Further information and updates of relevant materials can be found on the workshop series web site:, where presentations and findings of previous workshops have been published.

The ICAN workshop was co-chaired by Dr. Ned Dwyer of the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, Ireland, and Prof. Dawn Wright of Oregon State University, USA.

EEA/EIONET Press Release on ICAN 3


The EEA conference on 9-10 July 2008 enabled European coastal experts to explore opportunities that are becoming available as a result of ICAN work, and allowed for support and contributions to the respective work in Europe. This conference comes at an opportune moment and is of significant relevance as important policy decisions and developments took place in Europe in 2007 regarding the management of coastal, marine and maritime resources. These will shape the design, functioning and sharing of coastal and marine information services in the coming years. To this end, the EEA has initiated, together with the member countries, the regional seas Conventions and the European Commission, several activities that will benefit greatly from the realisation of coastal/marine mapping projects. The EEA conference was led by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Head of the Spatial Analysis Group at the EEA.

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  For our Coasts

Newsletter, Vol, 8, Nr 1 - Now Available!

We are now entering our 8th year publishing the ICAN newsletter. Many thanks to our Editor Andy Sherin!

Please consider preparing an article for the next newsletter that will likely be published in the fall of this year.
Happy New Year!

Photos from CoastGIS 2018

Our friends from CoastGIS 2018 have posted a wonderful gallery of photos, including the recent ICAN mini-workshop:

See how many ICAN members you can spot!