On behalf of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance, and to celebrate a decade of collaboration and achievement in the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Government, the European Commission, the Marine Institute, and the University of Galway organised this event in Ireland, on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of July 2023. Since the Galway Statement was signed in 2013 between Canada, the European Union, and the United States of America, more than 1000 research teams have started to map the North Atlantic seabed, discovered new species, advanced Ocean Literacy, and studied the effects the changing climate on biodiversity and ecosystem services. This has also seen the creation of a network of floating universities, shared research infrastructures in the Atlantic and Arctic regions, adoption an All-Atlantic Blue Schools Network, and two cohorts of All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors and much more. These successes have led to a new ocean-scale cooperation, culminating in the signing of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance Declaration in Washington DC in 2022, which in addition to the members above, also includes Argentina, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Morocco, and South Africa.
MAELSTROM scientists from the CIIMAR institute (Porto, Portugal) Prof. Isabel Sousa-Pinto and Dr. Gary Kett played key roles throughout the event. In Dublin at a High-Level meeting on the 4th, Gary Kett – an All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassador spoke to EU Commissioners, ministers, international ambassadors, and stakeholders, on the importance of youth inclusion in science and decision-making, the achievements of the Ocean Youth Ambassadors Ocean Literacy initiatives, and the need for continued science-policy dialogue, development and upscaling of new technologies, and sustained resourcing and infrastructure for the collaboration between research projects and societal stakeholders. The second day of the event, held in University of Galway, included an intergenerational dialogue where break-out groups of 10-15 Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOPs), led by an expert in the field, were challenged to develop concrete actionable proposals to address one of 5 current major ocean issues i) Ecosystems and Biodiversity, ii) Plastic Pollution, iii) Climate impacts, iv) Aquaculture & Fisheries, v) Polar regions. Prof. Isabel Sousa-Pinto guided the group on Ecosystems and Biodiversity, applying contextualised knowledge and innovative mechanisms to conjure an address to the issue of High Seas Marine Protected Areas. At the same time, Gary Kett, along with ECOPs in other EU and Atlantic Plastic-focused projects, took part in the Plastic Pollution session sharing and exploring the advancement of technological, societal, and political solutions such as those produced by the MAELSTROM project.
The final day of the event began with wake-up pitches from major ongoing projects. Prof Sousa-Pinto presented the MAELSTROM project, initial outcomes, and future work. Alongside this presentation were other esteemed projects such as REMEDIES, SeaClear 2.0, SOS-ZEROPOL2030, AquaVitae, Nautilos, and others. The presentation was highly commended and inspired thorough discussion during the following coffee break. Following this, Dr. Kett presented the idea of his ECOP group to a parliament of researchers and policymakers, their proposal for an All-Atlantic Plastics Pilot Network was well-received and stimulated continued discussions throughout the remainder of the networking event.
L-R: Gary Kett (CIIMAR, MAELSTROM), Kathrin Kopke (UCC, SOS-ZEROPOL2030), Isabel Sousa-Pinto (CIIMAR, MAELSTROM), João Frias (ATU, MicroplastiX), enjoying a locally produced, sustainable seafood reception at the Marine Institute, Ireland