New institute nets marine expertise

29 November 2006

The country's strategic position between cool and warm ocean currents and ready access to three major world oceans make it an optimal place for marine research. With this in mind, UCT has launched the MA-RE Institute, or Marine Research Institute, one of the university's Signature Themes.

The development is coupled to UCT's 100-year history of marine research in the Southern African region and the fact that the university probably has the only physical oceanography department in Africa.

The institute, of which Professor John Field (zoology) is the part-time director, is an umbrella body for the many departments involved in marine research. It includes 40 full-time researchers. As such, MA-RE will co-ordinate and foster cross-disciplinary and inter-faculty research projects and develop marine curricula.

Areas of development and capacity building will include marine law and policy, integrated coastal management, marine biotechnology, operational oceanography, Southern Ocean research, satellite oceanography and numerical modelling, marine engineering, an ecosystem approach to fisheries, seabird research and marine biodiversity studies.

MA-RE hopes to host at least two DST-NRF research chairs and will provide administrative support for these and for the African Centre for Co-operative Earth Stewardship Science (ACCESS), a joint venture between UCT and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

MA-RE is situated in new offices adjacent to the Department of Oceanography in the RW James Building. It incorporates the Centre for Marine Studies, which will merge into MA-RE in 2006-7.

MA-RE is also staffed by manager Emlyn Balarin and administrative assistant Helen King.

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