This is a special year for the Instituto Español de Oceanografía as we are celebrating our centenary. Founded by the first Spanish ICES delegate, professor Odón de Buen, our institute was created with the purpose of "studying the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of the seas around our territory and their applications to the problems of fisheries".
Improved knowledge of the sea and the mechanisms by which it provides the services we, as a society, value, remains our objective one hundred years later. Ultimately, human wellbeing depends on our capacity to interact with our environment in a sustainable way without forgetting our responsibility to developing regions and future generations. Human activities have global impacts and ecosystems are changing in response to these pressures, often in unpredictable ways.
The ocean plays a crucial role in the world´s climate. Improving our understanding of the processes involved in the functioning of the marine environment is perhaps more pressing now than it was one hundred years ago.
This brings us to the theme of this year´s ASC, "Sustainability in a changing ocean". Within this main theme, there are sessions on the threats to sustainability posed by climate change and exploitation and their potential effects (reduction in body size, bioinvasions, harmful algal blooms, and increase in gelatinous zooplankton). There are also sessions devoted to the application of new techniques to old data to improve our historical knowledge, understanding how ecosystems provide the services we value and how their functioning may be affected by ongoing climate change and increasing human impacts, and sessions on the challenges of developing integrated ecosystem assessments.
With a coastline of almost 5000 km, the sea has a strong relationship with Spain - shaping our national identity as well as our history and economy. Fisheries and aquaculture are especially important in Galicia and you will see evidence of this in every corner of A Coruña, our crystal city. It is often thought that our city's name originates from the presence of our Roman lighthouse, the "Torre de Hércules" that, with 2000 years of history, is the oldest working lighthouse in the world and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. But in fact the name arises from the "galerias" in the fishermen´s houses that constitute the largest continuous glass window series in the world. We invite you to discover these and many other wonders as you enjoy the local cuisine and culture.
Don't miss the opportunity to take a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (less than one hour away), it is said the trip can earn your soul a reduced stay in purgatory!
We look forward to seeing you in A Coruña!
Hosts of the ASC 2014, Carmela Porteiro and Eduardo Balguerías Guerra, ICES Delegates of Spain