We are pleased to announce the launch of the Latin American Ocean Acidification Network (LAOCA Network) a regional counterpart of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). On December 15th, 2015, a group of 24 scientists from seven Latin-American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru met at the city of Concepcion, Chile to establish the LAOCA.
This regional workshop was co-funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), the Center for the Study of Multiple-Drivers on Marine Socio-Ecological Systems (MUSELS), and the Millennium Institute of Oceanography (IMO) from Chile. During two days the group of scientists discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each country in relation to ocean acidification research, and also defining the mission and goals of LAOCA Network: (i) to synthesize the information about ocean acidification impacts in Latin-America, (ii) to encourage the implementation, maintenance, and calibration of long-term data-sets of carbonate chemistry in Latin-America, (iii) training of LAOCA members in various aspects of research (e.g. observation, experimentation, and modeling), (iv) to standardize chemical analytical techniques and protocols for experimentation in order to enhance data quality and homogeneity, (v) to establish a regional node for the articulation and communication amongst local, regional, and global research and coordination programs (e.g. BrOA, IMO, GOA-ON and IOCCP), (vi) to determine and evaluate local and regional scenarios of Ocean Acidification for different types of marine ecosystems (e.g. estuaries, coastal area, open ocean, etc.), (vii) to enhance student exchange and to facilitate access to infrastructure and equipment among institutions and LAOCA member countries, (viii) to design an outreach strategy for communicating ocean acidification-related issues to various audiences, (ix) to promote the development of cooperation projects between member countries of LAOCA, and (x) to promote the inclusion of Ocean Acidification to the political agendas of member countries, and even through the pursuit of cooperation agreements among LAOCA member countries.
Finally, scientists defined the LAOCA Executive Council, which will be co-chaired by Leticia da Cunha, (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro – UERJ, Brazil; Co-leader of the Brazilian Ocean Acidification Network); Nelson A. Lagos (Centro de Investigación e Innovación para el Cambio Climático (CiiCC), Universidad Santo Tomás, Chile; Member of the OA–ICC advisory board and SOLAS-IMBER WG in Ocean Acidification, SIOA) and Cristian A. Vargas (Universidad de Concepción, Chile; Member of the Executive Scientific Council at GOA-ON (Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network) and IOCCP (International Ocean Carbon Coordination Program).
In addition, the Executive Council includes representatives from each country participating in LAOCA: Rodrigo Kerr (FURG, Brasil), Patricio Manríquez (CEAZA, Chile), Patricia Castillo-Briceño (ESPOL, Ecuador), Alberto Acosta (UTADEO, Colombia), Michelle Graco (IMARPE, Perú), Alejandro Bianchi (SHN, Argentina) and José Martín Hernández-Ayón (UABC, México).
A first meeting, which will be focused on scientific plans and development of the on-the-ground collaboration scheme during the first year of operation of LOACA is planned for May 2016.