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Boost for marine science in South Africa

EMBARGOED until 2. December 2012, 24:00

Marine science in South Africa will receive a major boost when some of the world's leading experts in the field gather in Cape Town in December to explore collaboration opportunities as part of the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013.

Co-hosted by the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS) and the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), representatives from ten South African universities and research agencies will meet with delegations from Germany, Norway and France from 3 to 6 December to explore a range of opportunities for developing marine science and related research collaboration in the coastal and shelf domain over the coming decade.

According to Dr Neville Sweijd, ACCESS acting director, South Africa's geographical location and natural marine resources confer an attractive opportunity to partner with international scientists who are keen to co-operate in existing efforts: "There is growing recognition and appreciation of the complexity and globally important physical and ecological dynamics of our coastal and oceanic environment. South African research institutions and the South African government have invested significant resources into these programmes. The most recent acquisition of the RV Agulhas II is a prime example."

Dr Werner Ekau, the German counterpart from ZMT and co-convener noted that: "Germany has been involved in Marine Science research in southern Africa for several decades now, and the existing level of skill and expertise here, as well as the continuous need for skills development provide for a meaningful and productive engagement in South Africa. There is a lot to learn from working here, for all of us and a lot that the research can have impact on".

Focusing on the South African west and east coast, the four-day workshop will hear presentations and discussions on the interaction of physical ocean characteristics such as sea temperature, currents and chemistry, how that affects the biological processes in the ocean - such as fisheries - and the impacts of climate change, pollution and over-fishing. One of the main outcomes of the workshop will be scientific project proposals and significant training and capacity building initiatives.

Invited senior international visitors include Prof Kay Emeis from Helmholtz Research Center Geesthacht in Germany and Prof Eystein Jansen from the Bjerkness Center of Climate Research in Norway; The South African delegation includes Professors John Field (University of Cape Town), Janine Adams (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University), Digby Cyrus (University of Zululand), Prof William Froneman (Rhodes University), Dr Mike Schleyer (Oceanographic Research Institute; Chair of the Southern African Networks for Coastal and Oceanographic Research) and several other academic leaders and programme managers from the region (see attached list of attendees).

Germany and South Africa are celebrating 16 years of cooperation in science and technology and have agreed to conduct several initiatives to foster local skills development and innovation, while providing a platform for further joint ventures in science between the two countries.

The marine science workshop is sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research and South Africa's Department of Science and Technology.

Media representatives are invited to attend the opening ceremony; the keynote lectures and a lunch meeting with the press.

Venue: Tsogo Sun Nelson Mandela Boulevard Date: 3 December 2012 Time: 12:30 - 2:00

More information: Dr. Neville Sweijd (nsweijd@access.ac.za) and Dr. Werner Ekau (werner.ekau@zmt-bremen.de)

idw :: 29.11.2012