Formal agreement between the Spanish Government (Ministry of Science and Innovation, MICINN) and the Balearic Islands Government (Ministry of Economy, Finance and Innovation) was reached in december 2007 to establish a new Coastal Ocean Observing and Forecasting System in the Balearic Islands (SOCIB). SOCIB was established as new consortium with legal entity funded jointly by MICINN (50%) and the Balearic Islands Regional Government (50%).
SOCIB was conceived in the Balearic Islands and partnership with local institutions for personnel, laboratory space and scientific equipment was a part of the SOCIB development plan, in order to both build on and enhance existing facilities and to integrate local scientific expertise into the SOCIB structure. Partnership and participation was envisioned from the very earliest development of SOCIB, back in 2006. The original idea for the development of a new Coastal Observing System in the Islas Baleares developed from the work of existing researchers in the Balearic region, within a national and international network of research collaborators. This partnership and participation is not only vital to the initial development of SOCIB (Design, Construction and Equipment Phases) but also maximizes the Operations forthcoming Phases and in consequence the sound use of public funds. It is also crucial to enabling SOCIB to achieve good science and leading edge operational oceanography. This partnership and participation from key national research organizations (CSIC, UIB and IEO) and the direct participation of local research institutes and departments (IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), COB (IEO) and the Departments of Computing and IT, Physics and/or Engineering, among others from UIB) in the oceanographic operations of SOCIB will give rise to mutual benefits, avoiding duplication.
At a national and international level the vision for partnership is driven by the same concerns as the local level, with strong partnership with national and international scientific research organisations envisioned, in order to ensure that the ocean observing datasets are fully utilised and that advancement in the field of operational oceanography will be effectively achieved.
Partnership, cooperation and exchange is also anticipated at European (ESFRI target) and international level in order to gain from external ocean observing expertise and to participate fully as a part of the regional and global ocean observing infrastructure and also as a way to becoming an internationally recognized coastal observing and forecasting system, a reference facility, contributing to scientific excellence, technology transfer and knowledge dissemination.
For the partnering organisations the benefits of participation in SOCIB are numerous and vary depending on the nature of the partnership, local institutions will benefit strongly from close partnership with SOCIB through researcher access, influence in the decision making process regarding science outcomes, the investment in facilities and above all the fact that the new observing systems, new computing power and new data centre will provide a significant input to the marine science and technology development in the Balearic Islands research community. The Islands are characterised by more than 1.200 km of coastline, open to all directions. In consequence, a dedicated coastal ocean research ship is seen as a major need that will activate science progress and society services in the Islands. More specifically a new 24 m LOA advanced technology catamaran will become the major multidisciplinary facility that, together with the other observing facilities to be implemented (HF Radar, coastal buoys, gliders, ARGO and drifters, among others), will dramatically increase resources and capabilities to conduct scientific research.