The University of Haifa hosted the 3rd Annual Conference on the Mediterranean Sea Research on November 3,attracting attendees from thoughout the Middle East and Israel.
The conference, jointly sponsored by the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences and the Municipality of Haifa, is designed to stimulate public academic discussion on the various research issues arising due to the massive marine development along the Mediterranean shores. Topics include natural gas discoveries, setting up of marine infrastructures, preservation of the marine environment, development along the seashore line, protection of historical assets of the sea, maritime economy, maritime strategy and the dangers of maritime terrorist attacks.
“Just as science knows no borders, so the sea cannot recognize borders. In order to advance our understanding of the Mediterranean Sea, we need to cooperate. Fish and wildlife do not recognize man-made boundaries, and, certainly, geological and geo-physical processes do not stop at border checkpoints. But the knowledge we can acquire thanks to this cooperation will benefit us all,” said Amos Shapira, President of the University of Haifa.
The conference program focused on shipping, ports and maritime strategy in the Middle East. During the conference, the University inaugurated its new Research Center for Maritime Strategy. In honor of this event, a photo exhibition celebrating research at the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences was inaugurated on campus.
At the heart of the University’s marine science program, the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, has, after nearly a decade of operation, become a leading international force in sea research. At the head of the School is Prof. Zvi Ben-Avraham, an Israel Prize Laureate who has previously worked at prestigious universities such as MIT and Stanford.
The School’s academic faculty come from the best universities and research institutes in the world, including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Cal Tech and others. Despite the School’s relative youth, the University of Haifa’s research makes up for this in seniority.
The School comprises three new departments: Marine Geosciences, Marine Biology and Marine Technologies. These departments are joined by the department of Maritime Civilizations and the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, which have been operating since 1972 – the same year the University was founded.
“The sky’s the limit, or rather, the ocean floor is the limit,” said University President Amos Shapira. “We want to establish a deep sea observatory, more robots and submarines. We want to provide our researchers with the best technology – modern instruments for analyzing soil samples and innovative microscopes. We believe it is crucial to increase the number of scholarships we can give to research students from around the world – because they are the foundation on which we can grow and develop. I have no doubt that the sea is the future of mankind. Land resources are dwindling. We can already see today the impact of food shortages in Africa on the influx of refugees. The sea can be the source of our food and energy resources and in many places it has been a source of drinking water.”
“Certainly, the sea can and should be part of the solution to population explosion, through the construction of artificial islands,” Pres. Shapira continues. “The sea remains the best source of new drugs, and in recent years we have heard of a number of discoveries relating to cancer drugs extracted from coral and marine life. The sea is still the busiest transport route of goods between people and is certainly one of the favorite leisure places for billions. To use the depth of its riches, it falls upon us to explore it in the greatest depth – literally. I am proud that we at the University of Haifa are participating in this mission that is so important for the future of humanity.”