Fundamar, CIM and ECOBAS promote in Berbés the importance of RRI to contribute to the Social Economy in the maritime sector

The opening speech was given by Susana Touza, Deputy Director General of Social Economy of the Xunta de Galicia; Belén Rubio, Vice-Rector of Research of the University of Vigo, and Javier Touza, President of FUNDAMAR. All of them highlighted the need of this kind of actions for the promotion of Social Economy in the marine area, and the collaboration of the sector with Research to face the different existing current challenges.

Susana Touza opened the event, pointing out that the Social Economy in Galicia represents 7% of the PIB and employs more than fourteen thousand people through its entities. “Social Economy companies are companies of people, not of capital”, said the deputy director. The Eusumo Network has 87 of these entities.

The Vice-rector of Research wanted to emphasize the work that ECOBAS carries out in the Social Economy by means of actions and projects to promote cooperativism, among others; and the importance of the CIM activity, which has been providing solutions to the different challenges of the maritime sector for years. He also emphasized that the European Commission demands, more and more, a more open and dialoguing R&D&I, hence the great importance of the so-called Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), and of projects like this one.

On his side, Javier Touza took advantage of his intervention to make an emotional reflection on the accident happened a few weeks ago to the ship Villa de Pitanxo, and pointing out that the entities of social economy of the sea sector ‘work for the improvement of society and our non-profit sector’.

The next block of the day was opened by the researcher Mercedes Mareque, principal investigator of the PASOS project at the University of Vigo, who explained to the audience the origin of this project, born with the aim of promoting spaces of co-creation based on RRI, so that the practices in research and innovation work to obtain sustainable results, ethically acceptable and socially participated. María Caldeiro, manager of Fundamar and coordinator of PASOS in that entity, commented that the work carried out so far in the framework of this initiative shows the identification of a series of challenges by the social economy entities of the marine sector, such as the adaptation to the European requirements regarding legislation and sustainability, the generational change, the difficulties related to gender equality and women’s empowerment, or the importance of reinforcing the work of dissemination and communication, among others. This part of the day was completed by Marina Gómez, technician of the PASOS project at the University of Vigo, who explained to the attendees the activities that are still to be developed until the end of the project, highlighting the realization of two working tables in which representatives of different entities related to the marine sector will be invited to participate, as well as research staff from different centers.

The final part of the event included a round table with the participation of three professionals from research and innovation projects based on RRI. Miguel Rodríguez, researcher of the GEN group of the University of Vigo, presented the CircularOil project, a joint initiative of FUNDAMAR, UVIGO (through its research centers ECOBAS and CINBIO) and the AMICOS Association, based on the circular economy, which proposes the reuse of cooking oil from fishing vessels to turn it into sustainable products. Rita González, researcher of the XM1 group of the CIM, presented CoastSnap, a citizen science project that aims to build a common and trusting space to facilitate mutual learning and collaboration between researchers, citizens and municipalities using the photographs taken by users of various beaches around the world and shared in social networks as material of high scientific interest that can be used to make studies of the coasts. The last of the projects, Mardevidas, was presented by Fabián Ben, director of innovation projects of the National Federation of Confrarías, and its objective is to develop a social and environmental dissemination and awareness plan about the importance of protecting and recovering marine biodiversity through the promotion of sustainable fishing.

The keynote speaker of the day was Javier Touza, who wanted to emphasize that, although there are many challenges ahead in the marine and fishing sector, the people of the sea are characterized by their resilience, and we must continue working for environmental and social sustainability, addressing the problems from an interdisciplinary point of view and working as a network.