The action of the CSIC prevents the restraint of Canary Island research - La Provincia

In a movement almost of At the last minute, the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations (CSIC) gave 96,000 liters of fuel to each vessel on Friday night - and at least five dedicated to high seas research - of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO). These boats had been docked at the Vigo dock for a week, paralyzing the investigations of the sea scheduled for the entire Spanish coast, including eight that were to be developed during the next two months in the Canary Islands, due to a delay in the processing of the file of diesel.

This was announced yesterday by the Secretary of State for R&D of the Ministry of Science, which confirmed that the measure will allow the eight affected research groups in the Islands - four from the IEO headquarters and four others from the Institute of Oceanography and Change Global (Iocag), attached to the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) - resume your investigation in a few days. According to the national direction of the IEO, the setback will entail a small reprogramming in the initially established calendar, since the ship, the Ángeles Alvariño, He must have been docked in the Canary Islands last Friday.

The Secretary of State claimed to be "analyzing" what has happened with this file, whose status, they point out, had knowledge just a week ago. It should be remembered that the contract had expired in December 2019, and that it is not the only procedure in an unusual situation within the IEO.

According to researchers Pedro Vélez and Rosa Balbín, from the Tenerife and Balearic headquarters of the Oceanographic, respectively, many of the contracts were already expired or will do so in the coming months. "The ships now have to pass their own ITV and the file was not finished yet," Velez explained. To this is added that the crew file - another of the essential requirements for the ship to sail - "expired in February 2019," said Rosa Balbín.

So far nothing has happened because, according to the researcher, "the companies that provide the services have been trusting us."

From the moment in which the Ministry of Science realized the serious problem that this was going to generate, both in the oceanic research of all Spain and in the fishing advice that its scientists provide to autonomous institutions and governments, it got to work . In this way, a tender for an emergency procedure on diesel began last week in order to reactivate the campaigns.


However, the average resolution time of this file, no matter how fast it was done, could not fall within two or three months, so that, at least the campaigns scheduled for the Canary Islands were to be suspended until Ángeles Alvariño returned to dock at the port of Tenerife on October 13.

Thanks to the transfer of fuel from the CSIC, the ships, however, will continue to function, and "no data from the historical series will be lost," said the Secretary of State. But the actions will not stay there. The Secretariat of the State of R&D is aware of the serious problems - especially bureaucratic ones that are hampering the science of the IEO and other Public Research Organizations (IPOs) "for a long time". In fact, as he pointed out, at the beginning of last year, Royal Decree-Law 3/2019 of February 8, on urgent measures in the field of Science, Technology, Innovation and the University, was carried out "bureaucracy was facilitated in hiring". This decree came to eliminate the great headache of the researchers: the previous intervention. The measure, which was taken during the time of crisis, forced the scientists to justify the expense before doing so, with what they received the retribution afterwards.

As the Ministry insists, the Secretary General for the Coordination of Scientific Policy of the Ministry of Science, Rafael Rodrigo Montero "is very aware" of everything that happens with IPOs and has "a continuous weekly contact with the objective of improving the situation sooner". Regarding this particular file, the Ministry is working to discover where the problem has been because they understand that it was not due to lack of funds. "When we know what happened, decisions will be made," they said from the Secretary of State.

The Canarian researchers, however, continue to emphasize the need for the archipelago to have its own oceanographic study boat that avoids such situations, because they can be a great loss for studies that have to do with climate change, marine biodiversity and volcanology. As the researcher of the ULPGC and director of the Observatory of Climate Change of the Canary Islands, Aridane González, Canarias is located in a "strategic place for the knowledge of climate change, its effects and possible solutions".

However, the Archipelago "cannot look at the sea from the coast". Therefore, and to "advance in R & D & I," Gonzalez is a strong advocate for researchers in the Islands to have an oceanographic ship. "In Spain, regions with marine potential have ships permanently, except the Canary Islands," said Aridane González. "It is curious that being islands and having a high potential in research and R & D & I, we are the only region without a ship," he says.


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