Why do we need a World Association of Marine Stations (WAMS)?
It is estimated that nearly a thousand coastal laboratories and institutes are located around the world’s oceans. These laboratories have accumulated knowledge and data for decades but until the present initiative, their joint potential has been far too little exploited. The purpose of WAMS is to provide a forum for marine stations from all regions of the world to establish inclusive partnerships and strengthen collaboration among marine scientists to foster marine scientific research internationally. WAMS will enable better identification of global capacity and facilitate coordination on a range of issues including education and training; citizen science and public outreach; interdisciplinary research; and survey, monitoring and long-term observations. This global network will provide the marine scientific community with a common voice on marine research matters and marine policy, which in turn will foster the use of science to inform policy at the international level. In turn, this will facilitate an integrated global response to climate change impacts on marine ecosystems, their sustainability and biodiversity. Ultimately, WAMS will help the marine scientific community to better support global goals for the ocean and provide a stronger voice to champion the role of marine stations.
The World Association of Marine Stations (WAMS) initiative dates back to 2008 when a small delegation from the MARS network (European Network of Marine Stations) met with representatives from IOC-UNESCO. The first full meeting of WAMS was held on 13-14 April 2010 with representatives from a number of organisations in attendance including MARS; the US National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML); Tropical Marine Network (TMN); Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) Africa; Japanese Association for Marine Biology (JAMBIO); IOC-UNESCO; MAB-UNESCO; The Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean (AMLC and CARICOMP), Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) and Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO). This meeting unanimously endorsed the creation of WAMS which was formally established in 2010 by MARS and IOC.
A lack of activity around this initiative due to resource issues hindered further development at the time. However, the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) has recently stimulated a renewed interest in WAMS and thus provides a valuable window of opportunity to move forward with this its full establishment.