The National Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control Scheme
The National Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control Scheme nmbaqcs image


Scheme Coordinator:  Rafael Salas, Obervatorio Canario de algas nocivas

International Phytoplankton Intercomparision (IPI)


Registration for the International Phytoplankton Intercalibration (IPI) programme 2021 is now open through the website portal www.iphyi.org

The schedule for 2021 and all other info about the programme can be found there. The programme continues to be offered under the auspices of IOC UNESCO. This year a new partner is the Canary Islands HAB observatory (OCHABs) at the University of Las Palmas, in Gran Canaria, Spain, from where the IPI will be coordinated and run for the next 4 years.

Our calendar for 2021 is as follows:

Registration: From Monday, 8th March 2021

Samples sent to analysts + Oceanteacher quiz opens: From 30th July 2021 to Thursday, 30th September 2021

Deadline for submission of samples and online test results to lead laboratory: Tuesday, 30th November 2021

Intercalibration Report (January 2022) and Workshop: From 5th January 2022 to 1st March 2022


This note is to confirm that due to the ongoing global SARS-COVID-19 pandemic, the IPI organising committee in discussions with our Advisory group and partners have decided to cancel the IPI exercise for 2020 and to continue with the proficiency testing scheme from 2021 onwards. It is unfortunate that due to the current situation and the uncertainty surrounding it, the organisation of the exercise which includes the generation and posting of biological materials to many different laboratories around the world and educational tools like the Oceanteacher online test and the IPI workshop which requires the presence of participants in a teaching room, has become too challenging and difficult to coordinate with ever changing situations in different countries. We are aware that many laboratories use the results of this exercise as part of their annual quality assurance requirements towards their test method accreditation by their national accreditation bodies and also at the laboratory level for the ongoing competency of their analysts, so this decision is not taken lightly and it is obviously going to affect everyone, but I hope that given the circumstances, allowances should be made by the competent authorities to permit laboratories to keep up their accredited methods credentials until 2021, when we will resume the exercise.


The IPI exercise is organised by Rafael Salas (Observatario Canario de algas nocivas) and Jacob Larsen (IOC Science and Communication Centre on Harmful Algae) in collaboration with Claudia Delgado (IODE office). If you are interested in participating in 2021, you can register through our website www.iphyi.org next year and find all the information about the exercise. You can also e-mail me directly if you want to be included in future mailing about this test please contact rsalas@observatoriocanariohabs.com


The International Phytoplankton Intercomparison (IPI) is an international partnership to provide enumeration and identification quality assurance in marine phytoplankton. It was formerly part of the now concluded EU initiative Biological Effects Quality Assurance in Monitoring Programmes (BEQUALM) since 2005. The IPI did implement its intercomparison exercises through the Marine Institute Ireland in cooperation with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) through its Science and Communication Centre on Harmful Algae at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. From 2021 to 2025, the IPI Proficiency Testing scheme in abundance and composition of marine microalgae programme moves to the Canary Islands Harmful Algal Observatory (OCHABs) in the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), Spain.  The UK NE Atlantic Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control Scheme (NMBAQC) is one of our partners. They have been associated with the IPI scheme (formerly Bequalm) since the beginning in 2005 as the umbrella group for UK laboratories participating in phytoplankton intercomparison exercises under community analysis. The IPI operates according to the ISO standards 17043 Conformity assessment-General requirements for proficiency testing and ISO13528 Statistical methods for use in proficiency testing by interlaboratory comparisons. We are currently applying for accreditation for 2017 under ISO17043 to the Irish national Accreditation Board (INAB) for the IPI to be accredited as a proficiency testing scheme. The IPI is a partnership of agencies, quality control entities and organizations with interest in phytoplankton monitoring and quality control. Partnership will allow for endorsement on IPI certificates of proficiency by national or regional partners where this will enhance the value of certificates to participants in the proficiency testing.

More information can be found here and on the website: https://www.iphyi.org