Carrying out excellent marine science implies the use of many different resources. These include marine stations and institutes, research vessels, highly sophisticated and expensive instruments (moored, autonomous, satellite stations, indoor facilities and state of the art analytical equipment, etc.) as well as a highly specialized and competitive staff. Bottlenecks often come however, not from the lack of resources, but from the lack of an integrated organization. Several initiatives to create networks of marine stations and institutes have been founded and already function well in different regions of the world. Nevertheless, an overarching initiative to gather marine stations and institutes at global level was still missing.
Global networks of marine stations and institutes were regularly discussed in the 1980ies and 1990ies, primarily under the sponsorship of IUBS, SCOPE, and UNESCO (Grassle et al 1991, Lasserre et al 1994).
A global network of permanent stations, to be based on networks as NAML and MARS, was judged essential for long term observations and experimental studies in the coastal zone, to compare results of research along transects in different regions, to provide logistic support for marine research, and to offer training with the appropriate equipment.
The regional networks were founded and reinforced, however a global network of marine stations failed to appear till 2008.
From 2008 MARS took the initiative, with support of IOC-UNESCO, to build a new forum that unites marine research stations and institutes across the world: the World Association of Marine Stations (WAMS). In 2010 at UNESCO-IOC in Paris, France, the first full meeting of WAMS was held from 13 to-14 April. Here, representatives from MARS, NAML, AMLC, CARICOMP, PIMS, TMN, JAMBIO, UNESCO-IOC, UNESCO-MAB, POGO, and GOOS-Africa endorsed the creation of WAMS, and an outline strategy was drafted.
Grassle JF, P Lasserre, AD McIntyre, GC Ray 1991. Marine biodiversity and ecosystem function. A proposal for an international programme of research. Biology International, Special Issue 23, 24 pp.
P Lasserre, AD McIntyre, JC Ogden, GC Ray, JF Grassle, 1994. Marine laboratory networks for the study of the biodiversity, function and management of marine ecosystems. Biology International, Special Issue 31, 35 pp.