The Institute’s research and training drives are governed by national policy priorities as well as the Institute’s obligation to contribute to scientific knowledge. Thus existing policies have to be revisited to identify areas where Institute’s mandate is relevant. These included Research Priority Areas drawn by the (COSTECH – www.costech.or.tz) and some sector policies including the National Environmental Policy, National Fisheries Sector Policy and Strategy Statement, National Higher Education Policy, etc. Presently, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO urges governments worldwide to place the protection and conservation of the ocean and its resources at a high level of priority within their national programmes, and cooperate in national efforts to resolve ocean issues of mutual concern. With this view, the Institute has set the following research and training priority themes: Current development has resulted in refocusing the research agenda as follows:
Climate change, impacts, adaptation and mitigation
The Earth, which is about 4.6 billion years old, has experienced several glacial and interglacial episodes in the past. Within these episodes there were many rapid and often short-lived events (on timescales of 100 to 1000 years), which cannot be related to orbital variations but to other Earth System processes and human impact. Recently there has been worldwide trend of global warming and occurrence of frequent extreme events such as drought, storms and floods. These have effects on productivity of natural and agricultural systems, sea level change, coral reef-mangrove-seagrass ecosystems degradation, water quality and damage to property and infrastructure. Accordingly climate change is among the current global research agenda. Studies focus on processes and impacts in biology, geology, pedology and oceanography in order to identify the relationship between climate and change in systems so as to discover linkages, sensitivity, inertia and lags in systems. The Institute has integrated a range of issues including sea level rise, coral bleaching, calcification, acidity, changes in ecosystems, etc; and link them to natural marine hazards. However, a lot is yet to be done to understand the phenomenon and develop relevant management options. During 2010/11-2014/15 the main focus shall be climate change and impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems and risk management strategies.
Science for Poverty Alleviation, Diseases Eradication and Sustainable Coastal and Marine Resource Management
Over the years IMS conducted research in fisheries biology, statistics, population dynamics, stock assessment and management, taxonomy and , aquaculture, physiology and ecology of economically important seaweeds, species distribution and productivity of mangroves, coral reef ecology, planktology and sea grass ecology, resource economics and management. Studies were also conducted in general ocean circulation, waves and tides, sediment dynamics, geophysical and geotechnical applications, geochemistry, coastal engineering, ocean engineering, naval architecture, food and gear technology; R&D in marine technology (e.g. instrumentation). Other studies included pollution, natural products and ocean – land – atmosphere interactions. These studies aimed at poverty reduction and sustainable resource utilisation. There has been translation of research outputs into resource management initiatives and alternative livelihood activities to coastal communities. However, poverty as well as irresponsible resource extraction are still prevalent as not all communities were reached. During 2010/11-2014/15 IMS will continue to support research aimed at poverty alleviation, diseases eradication and sustainable coastal and marine resource management
Resource Management Support Tools
The justification for observing the ocean from space lies in the need to integrate the products obtained in the various models aimed at improving forecasts on a worldwide scale. Remote sensing is thus an essential tool in marine and coastal environment management from the standpoint of sustainability.
In order to assimilate data generated from various fields of studies measured in situ and remotely sensed observations IMS established a decision support tools unit (modeling, remote sensing, GIS and marine geoinformatics) with the view to undertake:
- Modeling of future climate scenarios and their potential effects in terms of, for example, sea level rise, coastal erosion trends etc.
- Assessments of vulnerability of sites to sea level change
- Hydrological modeling and flood risk analysis
- Natural hazard variability and climate change risk assessments
- Assessment of degradation of critical fisheries habitats associated with climate change
- Developing ecosystem based approaches to managing and mitigating the effects of climate change on socio-economic systems that underpin the health and well-being of fisherfolk communities.
- Suggesting strategies under which societies and economies can adapt to changing climatic conditions.
Towards that end IMS has only managed to build limited capacity for sustained, routine and reliable observations of oceanic, coastal, terrestrial and atmospheric systems on local, regional and global scales. For that reason during the 2010/11-2014/15 the IMS will continue to strengthen the unit.