In worldwide terms, Reunion is the only Outermost Region [1] in the Indian Ocean, where it represents Europe over a zone of 590,000 km2 containing the marine resources that are the most highly-coveted by those exploiting the sea today. Moreover, the zone’s islands and their coastlines are “hotspots” of world biodiversity as well as being a refuge for numerous endangered species.

In regional terms, Reunion Island is located at the core of the European Union’s Regional Programme of Support and Cooperation for the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region. The island can and must become Europe’s advanced platform in the region, a technological, scientific, initial and life-long training platform. Actors in Reunion such as the IRD and the IFREMER are already highly experienced in cooperating in development programmes.

It is Europe’s responsibility to defend these vast marine territories, world heritages of biodiversity, in the face of international pressure to overexploit them.

The project’s context

The RUN Sea Science project is integrated in the process of establishing a Regional Marine Institute (PRM) in Reunion Island. The Institute’s purpose is to:

  • strengthen local partnerships between scientists, administrators and decision makers by boosting understanding of the research carried out in the marine environment in Reunion;
  • contribute to the influence and reputation of higher education and research in the south-west Indian ocean by encouraging student exchanges and the training of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers.

The project’s activities

  • The project helps partners to develop research programmes relative to biodiversity and population dynamics, fishing and aquaculture resources, ethology and environmental monitoring. Among other operations, this will be carried out in practice via the purchasing of equipment used in Reunion’s future Regional Marine Institute.

Funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for Research and Technological Development

The RUN Sea Science project submitted by Reunion’s IRD was received favourably and its proposal accepted for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for 2009-2011.

The FP7 enables the European Union to fund numerous scientific projects over the 2007-2013 period. The programme is divided into four specific categories, including Capacities, which aims to improve the use and development of research infrastructures, whilst enhancing the innovation capacities of SMEs and their ability to benefit from research results. This consists of favouring the development of regional groupings and improving research potential in the Convergence Regions and the Outermost Regions. Ultimately this programme should enable more harmonious integration of the scientific sphere into European society.

The 2008 Call for Proposals was a resounding success for the European Union. Over 400 proposals were submitted, most of which were eligible. Ultimately 39 projects were selected, and obtained funding from the budget of € 30 million, i.e. an average of € 769,000 per project.

The RUN Sea Science project obtained virtually the highest rating possible and a budget of € 922,970. It is the sole project from an Outermost Region of the EU to be granted funding subsequent to this Call for Proposals. All the other funded projects are based in Convergence Regions.

The project’s time-scale

  • January 2009 : administrative start
  • March 2009 : kick off meeting
  • March 2009 : recruiting of scientists
  • June-July 2009 : launching of the website
  • Second half of 2009 : purchasing of equipment
  • August 2009 : Sixth WIOMSA Scientific Symposium
  • September 2009 : Aquaculture Seminar
  • 2009-2011 : exchange of experience via various research/teaching assignments
  • 2011 : report on scientific activities
  • 2011 : making of a documentary film
  • End 2011 : end-of-project meeting