“EU MISSIONS: Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030”: KU works on the reduction of human pressure on marine ecosystems
This week, Director of the Marine Research Institute of Klaipėda University (KU) dr. Zita Rasuolė Gasiūnaitė took part in a webinar “EU MISSIONS: Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030”. The European Commission launched the Mission as part of Horizon Europe and innovation programme for 2021-2027 that aims to address some of the greatest challenges facing our society today. The initiative seeks to restore the health of our ocean and waters in the next decade. It will contribute to Green Deal by restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, eliminating pollution, and making the blue economy circular and carbon-neutral.
Various cases of the Baltic States already contributing to this Mission were briefly presented by three speakers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. KU researcher dr. Zita Rasuolė Gasiūnaitė presented the case of Lithuania. She outlined the facilities, competences, and experiences that the Marine Research Institute and the Faculty of Marine Technologies and Natural Sciences of Klaipėda University could bring in to align with this Mission in terms of sustainable technologies, blue and green growth, and healthy sea.
KU Marine Research Institute with the staff of 150 people carry out fundamental and applied research in natural sciences and technology as well as R&D activities and also implement degree studies; moreover, during the past 20 years, they have been implementing over 30 research projects annually. KU researchers gained experience in marine environmental research, patented biological treatment technologies, used modern methods for environmental monitoring, and worked on coastal and marine management as well as on marine policies. The researchers found innovative solutions for marine recirculated aquaculture systems to reduce human pressure on the marine ecosystems and worked on sustainable management of marine bio-resources, aquaculture, and blue biotechnology.
The latest innovations at KU Marine Research Institute presented by dr. Zita Rasuolė Gasiūnaitė included:
– InnoAerogel – a waste paper-based oil spill sorbent – highly efficient, biodegradable and reusable material, integrated with microorganisms for better biodegradation;
– Decomposition of oil pollutants in the marine environment using mushroom cultures extracted from water and sand of the Baltic coast;
– Floating islands installed for the restoration of the transformed coastline, removal of nutrients, and increasing of biodiversity; etc.
Klaipėda University has started the fourth decade of operation and has already gained a significant scientific recognition in the Baltic Sea Region. In 2018, for the first time in the field of oceanographic research, KU was ranked among the top 200 universities in the world and among the 10 best universities in the Baltic Sea Region in terms of quality publications and the number of citations (CA WoS) and successfully maintained the position till the present time. In 2019, KU joined EU-CONEXUS, a transnational European higher education and research institution that covers smart urban sustainable coastal development from a global point of view. The University vision is highly interacting with this Mission: each year, its researchers come up with innovations for the quality of waters.