In 1994, the first edition of L’Atlas Permanent de la Mer et du Littoral was published on the initiative of Jean-Pierre Corlay, Professor of Geography at the University of Nantes and director of the LETG research unit (known at that time as Unité de Recherche Associée 904 – dynamique et gestion des espaces littoraux).
From 1994 onwards, this scientific publication of twenty or so cartographic plates lay down the principles that guided subsequent editions and that are still clear to see in today’s online version, namely, “to provide a geographical analysis of the locations and dynamics in operation in maritime and coastal areas and territories, in the form of single or double, thematic cartographic plates, supported by short explanatory texts to guide the reader”.
As its title suggests, the publication showcased maps as a form of communication, accompanied by texts written by experts, most of whom were geographers on the unit’s research team, on the subjects discussed (demography, fishing and aquaculture, maritime transport, environment, heritage, spatial planning, etc.). The content was expected to provide a synthetic view through information which had been studied/processed, analysed, and reproduced in a visual format created with scientific rigour.
Over several decades, the team forged their expertise in running an editorial project, collective organisation, designing publication-quality maps, and developing processing chains, as well as in producing graphics, page layout for print editions, and print management.
Until 2015, the year of the seventh edition, which was dedicated to maritime and coastal risks, the Atlas was constantly extended, its themes diversified, its circle of authors enlarged, and its maps refined, to produce a professional-level publication.
The quality of its content in terms of both form and substance has always been well received by our supervisory bodies (CNRS and the University), at our four yearly and five yearly appraisals, and by our readers (those working in the field, decision-makers, teachers, and members of the public – new to the subject or well-informed).
In 2019, while keeping the initial tried and tested principles of the original project, we decided to change our approach to allow us to:
- free ourselves from a publishing calendar that is difficult to maintain, and increase the distribution of our publication;
- follow the recent and growing trend towards digital scientific journals, and take advantage of these new ways of reproducing information while at the same time critically examining them and applying them to the specific requirements of cartography;
- take advantage of transferring the journal online to investigate the potentialities of enhanced cartography, an approach which is still to be applied to publication-quality map design (progressive integration of animated and interactive features);
- facilitate a high-quality and transparent scientific dialogue involving the journal’s two committees, authors, reviewers and readers.
As a result, L’Atlas Permanent de la Mer et du Littoral has been redesigned and relaunched as L’Atlas Bleu – Revue cartographique des mers et des littoraux / Cartographic Journal of Oceans and Coasts.
L’Atlas Bleu editorial committee