The university of Vigo has the mission of achieving the highest level of research quality. It dedicates special attention to the study of Galician culture and environment through specific research programs that answer actual problems, thus promoting research as a means of scientific and cultural development of society. This University, located in an European region that is highly dependent on the ocean (fisheries and related activities generate approximately 10% of the PIB of Galicia), hosts one of the few degrees in Marine Science of the Peninsula. The Marine Sciences Station of Toralla (ECIMAT), inaugurated on June 19, 2006 and located on the Island of Toralla (Coruxo, City Council of Vigo), was created in response to the marine vocation of this University, with the objective of providing infrastructure to achieve research excellence in marine themes.
A critical mass of highly competitive and recognized marine research groups, with local and international academic credentials from specialized installations for marine research, exists in Vigo. This brings high capacity to attract external resources. ECIMAT was created within this context, as a research center with the objective of providing the necessary seaside infrastructure to maintain and improve the achieved scientific level. It aims to provide added value and competitive advantage to obtain external resources, and to provide centralized services to this and other Galician and international universities and research centers, whether public or private, related to the sea and marine cultures.
The centralized administration of ECIMAT allows to rationalization of the use of its resources. The Station has the following structure: Marine Cultures Unit, with ability to provide seawater of different qualities and marine cultures for use in research; Marine Environment Unit, with capability to give support to in situ marine researchand microscope analyses of samples; and Underwater Activities Unit, with a fully equipped diving gear room, pier and boat.
The University frequently fails in connecting with social structure that surrounds it. The work of researchers closed in their laboratories does not always result in the benefit of the community that support them. Centers such as the Station of Toralla, which promote applied research in themes of large economic and social interest for Galicia, such as commercial and artisanal fisheries, and aquaculture, can serve as a link between the academic world, with its theorical advances, and the social sectors that can benefit from the practical application of such advances.