In the first years since its inception, SAERI has been able to tap into many of the research opportunities already existing in the South Atlantic Overseas Territories, with an initial focus on both the Falkland Islands and Marine Science: by virtue of the Falkland Islands Government acting as parent in Phase I, established local relationships and organically given the skills of the incumbent staff. In the focal area of marine sciences, research and commercial opportunities have arisen within two principal sectors: fisheries and the oil and gas industry. It is not envisaged that SAERIs role in these sectors will change in the future.
To date, work that SAERI has done has included:
- Working with the Falkland Islands Government and the Oil & Gas industry to provide a gap analysis of the potential impacts of the industry on the higher predators and on the benthic environment
- Working with the government to develop an evidence base for the Falkland Islands’ Marine Spatial Plan;
- Developing an informatics and data system specifically relevant to the Falkland Islands which can provide historical temporal and spatial data
- Co-ordinating a regional information management centre, which includes training and capacity-building across the South Atlantic Overseas Territories, and the creation of the regions first ever metadata catalogue.
- Exploring opportunities for aquaculture on the Falkland Islands.
- Mapping the Terrestrial and marine environments of Ascension Island
- Enhancing the science and evidence-base for sustainable fisheries on St. Helena and Ascension Island.
- Defining for the first time Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) for each of the South Atlantic Overseas Territories.
- Providing the regional hub role for the South Atlantic for the European Commission ‘Best 2.0’ funding programme.
To ensure that SAERI continues to broaden its expertise beyond the Marine Sciences and Data Science, other areas of focus are being developed, so that optimal use of resources and focused application of funds can take place in a logical and transparent manner. This is being done through a phased approach so that as one focal area becomes established, so another can come to life.
Strategically, SAERI aims to be a world-class research institute that teaches students and builds capacity within and between the South Atlantic Overseas Territories. In order to achieve that it must be:
- Project optimised – by operating as a streamlined and efficient organisation through the Focal Areas;
- Fully funded – Falklands registered limited company is able to fund SAERI overheads, ensuring SAERI ultimately becomes fully financially independent from Falkland Islands Government and by ensuring that all grant applications (where possible) contain cost of seat coverage; and
- The holder of proprietary environmental knowledge of the South Atlantic – by continuing to provide the research expertise offered to date.
SAERI aims to enhance our understanding of South Atlantic marine ecosystems and ocean dynamics. Its research will support the regions’ fisheries management, spatial planning and environmental planning and policy-making.
Establishing baselines to understand the regions terrestrial species and ecosystems will feed into best-practice environmental management.
SAERI provides informatics, data management and GIS systems coupled with ‘On the ground’ logistical support for research and researchers.