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2020-05-11

Shared-use of marine research infrastructures is key to achieve transatlantic collaboration

One of the objectives of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance is the construction of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Community. Through the promotion of new models of cooperation around the whole Atlantic Ocean basin, this massive coordinated and partnership-based endeavour will encourage joint activities, increment operational efficiency within marine research, expand our common understanding and scientific knowledge on the Atlantic, and leverage capacity development through scientific exchange. In order to achieve this objective, five stakeholders’ platforms were created under the AANChOR project to foster the interaction of experts of various key scientific areas. On 5 February 2020, on the eve of the second All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum (Brussels, Belgium), the AANChOR project gathered dozens of experts in five different workshops to better understand what should be the next steps in each of their fields of transatlantic cooperation.

Research infrastructures are facilities that provide resources and services for research communities to conduct research and foster innovation. Facilities for ocean science such as research vessels, underwater vehicles and offshore platforms, are generally particularly costly and require heavy operation to be deployed and operated. Increasing operational efficiencies by optimising the appropriate use and sharing of research infrastructures is one of the objectives of the signatories of the Belém Statement. An emblematic example of “shared-use” of marine research infrastructures is the organisation of joint scientific cruises.

In order to support this objective, AANChOR created a stakeholders’ platform dedicated to the convergence and alignment of research infrastructures (RI). Concretely, this expert group will launch activities to support the development of a transatlantic network of RI initiatives and promote the shared use of infrastructures in the Atlantic.

As a first step, the RI platform listed marine research infrastructures available in the Atlantic. This include major scientific equipment’s or set of instruments for ocean research, network of facilities, and other research and innovation infrastructures open to external users. A rough estimation showed the availability of more than 3000 facilities operating in the Atlantic. In order to identify key initiatives, a selection of 150 facilities or networks of facilities were listed as a baseline. Most of the marine stations surrounding the Atlantic are part of a wider network called World Association of Marine Stations - WAMS. The AANChOR project will therefore build on these existing networks of infrastructures.

The RI stakeholders’ platform includes members from the EU member-states, South Africa, Benin, Brazil, Argentina, Cabo Verde, United States and Canada. At their first meeting held in Brussels on 5 February 2020 and organised by AANChOR partner Ifremer from France, members discussed among others, possible joint actions in the field of coastal observing systems, optimising the use of research vessels and gliders in the Atlantic, coordination of existing polar research programmes, as well as plankton monitoring. In the next months, members will develop further these ideas into joint actions proposals, of which some tasks might receive seed funding from the AANChOR for implementation.

Questions and comments regarding AANChOR’s Convergence and Alignment of Research and Innovation infrastructures initiatives platform should be directed to Florence.Coroner@ifremer.fr.

The All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance is an international initiative supporting research and innovation promoting the sustainable use of the oceans. It is the result of various science diplomacy efforts involving Atlantic countries on both sides of the Equator line. It aims at enhancing marine research and innovation cooperation along and across the Atlantic Ocean, from the Arctic to Antarctica. To learn more about the Alliance and its relationship with the Galway and Belém Statements and the Administrative Arrangements with Argentina and Cape Verde, please have a look at this video or read this brochure.