Why Have a Center of Excellence in Marine Science?
Daniela Margarita Ozuna – Journalist Universidad de Antioquia
The Corporation Center of Excellence in Marine Sciences (CEMarin) has an extremely important mission for Colombia to jointly research the coastal marine resources of the Caribbean and the Pacific for their protection.
CEMarin was founded in 2009 as a scientific and academic consortium of five Colombian universities and research institutions, and one German university. In 2015, it became a legal entity.
CEMarin consists of Universidad de Antioquia, Universidad de los Andes, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Universidad del Valle and Justus Liebig University Giessen from Germany, and it receives co-funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
It has 95 scientists from diverse fields such as marine biology, chemistry, geography, oceanography, engineering, socioeconomics and environmental law, who contribute their expertise to promote interdisciplinary research, scientific training and outreach in marine sciences.
Around 50 students have joined the corporation through doctoral fellowships, thesis co-direction between Colombian and German scientists, internships at partner institutions in both countries, funding of thesis projects, and organization of basic field courses, specialized advanced courses, workshops and seminars in Colombia and Germany. Additionally, the double degree program is promoted between doctoral programs in Colombia and Germany.
“We support several institutions with many strengths in the marine field. CEMarin covers the whole country and can work in the Caribbean and the Pacific. We also have the opportunity to leverage projects and we support approximately 20 interinstitutional doctorate students of Marine Science with 25 or 30 million Colombian pesos for their research,” says Jairo Zapata, Director of the Environmental Academic Corporation of the Universidad de Antioquia and CEMarin.
What does it mean to the Universidad de Antioquia to lead CEMarin?
It is both a challenge and a responsibility for the university and the country to give doctoral students the opportunity to give this information back to the communities.
And how is CEMarin doing in that respect?
This is a great challenge that we haven’t finished yet. The university has made progress, but we still have work to do. That is why CEMarin also works in society and law, so that what we do can reach the community and be applied to daily work.
How much does Colombia support research on marine resources?
Marine resources have caught people’s attention because of the ongoing issue of climate change. This means that there is interest, research and ideas, but we don’t have sufficient support from the Colombian state. Therefore, in corporations like CEMarin, we try to raise international funds for research.
Colombia has established regulations, but how can we enforce them with the staff we have. Unfortunately, as civilians we do not acknowledge or comply with the regulations, and as tourists or researchers, we violate them. There is ignorance and lack of awareness on the issue.
So there are many challenges…
The first step is to be self-financing and we can achieve this by submitting research projects to different calls for applications. We aim to gradually achieve these opportunities, because we are still not very well known. Unfortunately, we are better known abroad than in Colombia.
Is CEMarin interested in sustainable tourism?
Yes, we are interested in everything to do with the marine world. In Colombia, there is a lack of implementation of sustainable tourism and dialogue between ministries. We have to follow the example set by Costa Rica and Mexico, which have been developing this work for some time, achieving economic results and making progress in environmental protection.