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1.1       Location and Setting

The Institute of Oceanography is located in the city of Calabar (approx. 4o8N; 8o20E) within the serene rain forest and mangrove environment of southeast Nigeria. Calabar is a burgeoning metropolis of the south of Nigeria and is accessible by all modes of transportation air, land and sea. Other locational details of the Institute, including a map, are provided on the Institutes website.


Calabar is located on the Calabar River which access to the Atlantic through the estuary of the Cross River. The Cross River Estuary is about the widest estuary in the West African Coast stretching approximately 25 km at its widest point. The complexities of its hydrodynamics, fisheries, ecology, and socio-economics provide ample opportunity for research by staff of the Institute in cooperation with interested relevant organizations and institutions. 


1.2       Historical Background

The Institute of Oceanography (IOC) University of Calabar is a University based institute charged with the responsibility of conducting research in its mandate areas as well as providing instruction and training for future managers of the marine/aquatic ecosystem. The Institute was established in 1982 as a centre for research and training in marine sciences in the country as one of the few university-based research Institutes in Nigeria that, in a holistic approach, address issues concerning the nature, utilization and conservation of our coastal and offshore resources. The mission of the Institute is defined by its statute pursuant to which she engages in research and consultancy, forging of national and international linkages and activities in general which promote the understanding of the aquatic environment.


As mankind increasingly turns to the aquatic environment for exploitation of resources and disposal of wastes, a better understanding of the aquatic environment in general and the marine in particular will assume greater importance. The University of Calabar by its location is strategically placed to address these concerns in Nigeria. We envisage an Institute which should eventually serve as a university-based center of excellence for research and training in marine science disciplines charged with the production of the required medium and high-level marine expertise in the country. The value of such a center is predicated on the following:


  The strategic and maritime location of the University of Calabar,

  The countrys extensive coastline which stretches for over 800 kilometers and the inadequate number of institutions adequately staffed and equipped to address various marine-related issues and problems which require scientific investigations,

  The extensive material and human resources along this coastline for which we need a deeper understanding of their interactions for sustainable utilization and management,

  The increasing threats to sensitive coastal ecosystems such as the mangrove forest and the need for a body of information relevant to their sustenance,

  The increasing importance of the marine environment as a source of natural resources and destination for the disposal of industrial and domestic waste products.

  The need for research and development into all the facets of aquaculture



1.2.1   Conception and Origin

The Institute grew out of the erstwhile Department of Biological Sciences and the vision for the conception and creation must be credited to the founding Director, Professor Ulo Kponuko Enyenihi. The blueprint for the establishment of the institute was put together in 1981/1982 under the coordination of the Research Centre of the Gesellschaft zur Anwendung der Kernenergie in Schiffbau und Schiffahrt Gmbh (GKSS) Hamburg, Germany and the full and active participation of the following individuals and institutions:


Dipl. Ing. Helmut Bianchi               -           GKSS

Prof. Dr. W. Nellen                           -           Institut fur Meereskunde, Kiel

Prof. Dr. D. Schnack                       -           Institut fur Meereskunde, Kiel

Prof. Dr. Hempel                              -           Universitt Bremerhaven


The initial conception of the institute was ambitious, envisaging a six-department structure with the full complement of ancillary operational units and infrastructure. Funding constraints, however, and the exigencies of the political situation in the course of actualizing the initial concept demanded a dynamic response by the institute in the execution of its mandate. Consequently, in 1987, the institute undertook a restructuring which involved the streamlining of the initial six departments into the present 3 departments viz: Departments of Biological Oceanography, Physical Oceanography and Fisheries and Aquaculture. As a result of these changes, IOC has emerged as a more dynamic interdisciplinary institute.


1.2.2   Historical Landmarks

Some significant landmarks, despite the difficult operating circumstances, have punctuated the history of the Institute. These achievements have been recorded in the areas of attracting national and international research funding, fellowships and awards; consultancy and community service; and the deign and implementation of innovative programmes of teaching and research. These are highlighted below and further presented in detail under the respective sections:


A.        Funding Grants/Collaborative Projects

1.         EEC-funded Programmes for Research and Training in Aquacultures under the Oil Palm Belt Development Programme.

This was a three-year tri-partite research project (1991-1993) initiated by the Institute of Oceanography in joint execution with the African Regional Aquaculture Centre (ARAC) Port Harcourt and the Institute of Animal Husbandry of the University of Gttingen, Germany. Total value of the grant was 1.5million ECU. Grant was utilized for setting up research facilities in the cooperating institutions and for IOC, the construction of a 2ha research fish farm facility, research laboratories, equipment and staff development. Under the programme and using her facilities, the IOC graduated over 15 M.Sc./Ph.D candidates in fisheries/aquatic sciences most of whom are currently engaged in different departments of the University.


The University fish farm developed under the EEC-funded programme is one the largest fish farm facilities for research and teaching in aquaculture in a Nigerian University.


The Institute, through the Department of Physical Oceanography, participated in collaborative efforts with the University of Newcastle upon-Tyne to develop a Biodiversity Manual for the West African Region initiated by UK Overseas Development Agency.     



2.         International Foundation for Science Research Grants

Staff members of the Institute attracted research grants valued at above US$60,000 (approx. N8million) from the International Foundation for Science (IFS) as follows:


Prof. A. I. Obiekezie: US$36,400 for research on the pathology of cultured tropical fish species


Dr. Daniel Ama-Abasi: US$24,000 for research on the biology of the West African Shad, Ethmalosa fimbriata.


Fisheries and Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (ETF-Sponsored)

The Educational Trust Fund (ETF) has supported the Institute in the establishment of a Fisheries and Aquaculture Centre of Excellence through a grant of N65 million in 2006.  The grant is being utilized to set up a sustainable teaching, research and production outfit covering all aspects of tropical freshwater and estuarine aquaculture.


3.         Fellowships and Awards

The attraction of international fellowships and awards attest to International exposure of our research staff and represent a significant contribution to the equipment and resource base of the Institute/University as follows:


  2 Alexander Von Humboldt Fellowship awards to Dr. L. E. Etim and Dr. U. I. Enin;


  3 Fulbright Study Fellowships to Dr. Daniel Ama-Abasi, Dr. Albert Ekanem and Dr. Francis Nwosu within the context of staff development;


  Over 20 travel and study fellowships at different instances to different countries and institutions for both academic and professional staff of the institute; 


  The 2001 IFS/DANIDA Award for excellence in aquatic resources research in sub-Saharan Africa to Prof. A. I. Obiekezie.


B.        Consultancy and National/Community Service

     The Institute, through the Department of Physical Oceanography, coordinates the Raw Materials Survey (Non-Metallic Mineral Products) for the South-South Zone for the Federal ministry of Science and Technology.


     The Department of Physical Oceanography of the Institute, through the departmental head, Prof. E. Antia, participates in specialist sessions of the Climate Change Impact of Nigeria Project fostered by the Federal Ministry of Environment and also chairs the Environmental Impact Assessment Panel of Offshore-Based projects for the Federal Ministry of Environment.


     Over 35 consultancy project have been executed for government, industry and bilateral organizations by institute staff and using institute facilities under the aegis of Unicalcons.


C.        Innovative Academic Programmes

     The Institute has set the pace in being the first university-based centre in Nigeria for graduate training in coastal zone management. The pioneer candidates of the 12-month programme have completed and defended their theses in 2000/2001. The programme is housed in the Department of Physical Oceanography.


Major historical Landmarks are summarized as follows:


Date               Event

1982               Establishment of the institute

1986               First Consultancy Project

1990               Major Externally Funded Research Project

1991               Launch of first Institute research boat

1984               Intake of first set of Graduate Students

1987               Institute moves to a new location

1989               Re-organization of departmental structure

1991               First M.Sc./Ph.D graduates of the Institute

2002               Launch of B.Sc. Marine Sciences Programme


Since inception, therefore, the Institute has creditably discharged its mandate through forgoing of linkages with national and international institutions. By this means, the Institute has put in place a sound basis for the establishment of a center of excellence in marine science disciplines in the country through the acquisition of research equipment and facilities and the provision of international training and exposure to her academic and professional / technical staff.


1.3       Directors of the Institute

1.         Prof. Ulo Kponuko Enyenihi (Founding Director)            1982-1996

2.         Prof. (Etubom) Anthony E. Nya                                       1996-2000

3.         Prof. Austin Ik. Obiekezie                                                   2000-2004

4.         Prof. E.E. Antia                                                                     2004-2006

5.         Prof. U.J. Ibok                                                                       2006-2008

6.         Prof. A.I. Obiekezie                                                              2008- date


1.4       Regulating statutes

1.4.1   Functions of the Institute of Oceanography

The functions of the IOC shall include the follow:

(a)          Provision of teaching and training leading to the award of, Diplomas and Certificates in Marine Sciences Disciplines;

(b)          Provision of specialist courses for persons from industry and government;

(c)          Making recommendation to Senate on the award of degrees, diplomas and Certificates;

(d)          Undertaking consultancy services for government, international organizations, local authorities and the private sector;

(e)          Provision of extension services in aquatic sciences and organizing short-term courses, workshop, conferences, and managers of the coastal environment etc;

(f)           The publication of a Journal of Aquatic Sciences and Policy;

(g)          Assisting relevant departments of University in their teaching and research functions at the under-graduate and post-graduate levels; and

(h)          Performing any other academic service and research functions that Senate and Council may assign to the Institute.  


1.4.2     Administrative Structure

In order to fulfill its mandate, the Institute is structured into 3 academic departments encompassing 9 subunits or working groups and supported by 5 service units, as follows:


1.            Department of Biological Oceanography (BOC)

Aquatic Microbiology Unit

Fisheries Management Unit

Marine Biology/Fisheries Unit


2.            Department of Physical Oceanography (POC)

Marine Chemistry/Environmental Pollution Unit

Marine Geology Unit

Physical Oceanography Unit


3.            Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (FAQ)

Unit for Fish/Shellfish and allied culture systems

Fish Diseases and pathology Unit

Fish Nutrition Unit


1.4.3     Technical Support Units

(a)          Fish Farm and Hatchery

(b)          Central Workshop

(c)          Oceanography Resource & Documentation Centre

(d)          Photo and Graphic Laboratory

(e)          Oceanography Museum

(f)           Environmental Evaluation and Monitoring Unit

(g)          Material and Chemical Stores.

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Last modified: 09/05/10