After the 37th CIESM Congress

Dr. Bülent TOPALOĞLU Turkish Marine Research Foundation

CIESM is a scientific community and consists of 23 members from 20 countries with coasts to the Black Sea and Mediterranean plus Germany, Switzerland and Portugal. This scientific community, centered in Monaco organizes a scientific meeting or congress once every three years to support research studies on every aspect of marine science. The establishment of CIESM can be traced back to more than a century ago. The first scientific meeting was held in March 1910, in Monaco. Membership of our country started in 1953. 37th Congress was done under the hosting of the Spanish Government between 7 and 12 June of 2004 in Barcelona. 15th Congress of this community was held in Turkey, Istanbul, in 1956, and so did the 26th Congress, which was organized in Antalya in 1979.

Prof. Dr. Aykut BARKA honored us by becoming the invited participant of the 36th CIESM congress, held in Monte Carlo in 2001, and he presented his statement in this congress. In 2003, a scientific meeting about “Ship Ballast Waters and Their Control” was organized by the Turkish Marine Research Organization, in cooperation with CIESM. It is important to note that, for the first time, an academician from Turkey was chosen to be in the CIESM management, and Cekmece Nuclear Research and Education Centre (ÇNAEM) participated in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea Mussel Observation Project (supported by CIESM). Another matter of significance is the extraordinary care shown by our Maritime Undersecretary. For the benefit of our seas, the undersecretary has applied to CIESM with an official letter and proposed that the 38th Congress be organized in Istanbul. CIESM Commission accepted this proposal but it was voted down in 2001. The Maritime Undersecretary of Turkey has played a key role in directing marine science and became a beacon of hope. In CIESM, similar to the other international organizations that Turkey pays a yearly membership fee for, there has been no meaningful activity besides the ones mentioned above. The most thought-provoking and distressing issue is that even though Turkey possesses the longest coastline among member states, only 22 statements (approx. %3.4) out of 668 belonged to Turkish Scientists in the 37th Congress of CIESM. Moreover, Turkish participant number of this congress was unfortunately limited to 13 people, mostly from Istanbul University. In comparison, Greece had more than 50 participants, as well as multiple statements.

In this meeting, hundreds of scientists came together to discuss their joint scientific projects as well as the outcomes. The Prince of Monaco was the honorary president and the Spanish Science and Technology Ministry hosted the meeting. The opening speech was given by the General Secretary and General Director of CIESM Committees. In the speeches, marine research necessary for the future of the Mediterranean region (including the Aegean Sea, the Marmara Sea, and the Black sea) was highlighted.

CIESM is formed from six different committees, including Marine Geology (Marine Geology and Geophysics), Ocean Physics and Climate, Marine Biogeochemistry, Marine Microbiology, Marine Ecosystems, Live stocks, and Coastal Ecology. Committee Presidents are chosen by the researches’ votes who are the members of each committee.

Round table conference included the contributions of experts from different committees. In this congress, it was pointed out that the amount of deep sea data was limited thus more studies should be focused on this subject in the near future. During the round table conference on “Mediterranean and Black Sea Mussel Observation Project”, the representative of CNAEMR pointed out that Black Sea, Marmara and Aegean Sea (up to Izmir) have seventeen mussel observation stations and, according to collected data, some stations possess radioactivity and heavy metals. Moreover, he mentioned that they transplanted mussels in six different stations between Izmir and Hatay.

Our country should decide priority areas in marine science as soon as possible and reserve funding for these areas. Countries with no priorities and no targets in marine research cannot protect their rights and benefits. Moreover, they cannot even compete with countries that have improved their marine research capacity. They can only buy the knowledge that other countries produce and can only support others’ research as a customer. Unfortunately, marine research in our country isn’t in a desirable position and some institutions don’t want to get involved with this subject. For this reason, it would be beneficial to coordinate a meeting on marine research, instructions, priorities, and mistakes occurring in Turkey. At least this will be a good start to begin questioning the current politics so we can learn from our mistakes. With the help of this meeting, we can take the first step for a new plan.

However, the CIESM meeting, conducted in 2007 with the leadership of TUDAV, was vital and TUDAV hosted at least 1000 marine scientists in Istanbul. Moreover, the participation of a wide range of Turkish scientists to the 38th CIESM Congress gave us the opportunity for conducting regional, bilateral or basin based joint research.

Photograph: Members of TUDAV Management Board and Teaching staff of Istanbul University, Dr. Hüseyin ÖZTÜRK presenting their studies