About us | European Tracking Network

About us

Mission and Objectives

Aquatic environments drive important global systems and their species play crucial roles in ecosystem functioning and dynamics. Many people depend on aquatic biodiversity for their livelihoods and aquatic species play an important role in tourism and recreation. Careful management of these resources is key for conservation and a sustainable future. Despite their importance, there is still little knowledge on habitat preferences, movements and migrations, and the resilience to changes in the environment. In recent years, electronic telemetry applications and technologies evolved quickly and revolutionised our ability to study free-ranging aquatic animals in the wild. These detailed and data rich observations can be used to address crucial scientific, conservation and management questions on a global level. However, this requires expanded telemetry infrastructure and animal-tagging efforts over large scales and across national borders. Therefore, the European Tracking Network (ETN) was established to unite researchers working with biotelemetry on aquatic animals in Europe.

The overarching objective of ETN is to ensure the transition from a loosely-coordinated set of existing regional telemetry initiatives scattered in Europe to a sustainable, efficient and integrated pan-European biotelemetry network embedded in the international context of already existing initiatives outside Europe. This will result in excellence in science across Europe and provide advice for EU policies.

To reach this goal ETN will focus on:


Data integration and networking

ETN aims at the implementation of a central data system for aquatic animal biotelemetry data in Europe. The database serves as a host for a variety of telemetry systems. The ETN data standards are mapped to best international practices of existing international biotelemetry data systems. This approach allows an optimised use of available resources and the use of integrative approaches to address regional and global ecological questions posed by the world’s changing aquatic ecosystems. In addition, it enables not only fluent data sharing and exchange among network partners but also towards more general ocean biodiversity data systems.

Technological developments

The scientific advancement in the field of aquatic biotelemetry requires commitments from the industry to advance technologies and ensure compatibility between brands. The European telemetry scene is highly diverse, using multiple telemetric approaches and equipment from several brands. However, the different brands do not have any agreements regarding transmit protocols, ID allocation and tag serial numbers. This leads to the potential loss of data, tag code duplications and imposes a competitive barrier. To move forward towards a much-needed pan-European collaborative network that could provide relevant information in support of decision making, compatibility between brands and agreements on transmit protocols and ID allocation are imperative. Therefore, a sustainable and integrated European tracking network, representing the European telemetry community voice, is needed to promote cooperation among and commitments from industry companies manufacturing aquatic telemetry technology.

Management and conservation

The above-mentioned objectives will provide valuable data and advice for national and international policies, including EU key policies and Directives. The telemetry community experienced substantial growth in recent years and evolved from a pure ecological context (e.g. answering questions on species habitat use and behaviour) towards a more integrated science-management oriented focus. To answer these type of questions, large scale networks are needed and ensure that data is disseminated to all stakeholders and the community at large.