His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco has initiated the Monaco Explorations campaign this week, which provides a research platform for global scientists and will focus on raising public awareness of the threats facing the sea in the modern age.
Monaco has a long tradition of sea exploration and sea conservation and at a United Nations press conference on Wednesday – the eve of World Oceans Day – Prince Albert II said: “The greatest ills the oceans suffer are the result of our ignorance.
“The ocean depths are in large part unexplored, the intermediate areas almost ignored, marine biodiversity is widely misunderstood. We struggle to identify the multiple threats and effects, whether it is about the acidification of the oceans, about pollution, particularly plastics, or about the weakening of some ecosystems, which are, upsetting the balances of our seas. ”
With the support of the Princely Government, the transoceanic exploration vessel, Yersin, owned by François Fiat, will leave Monaco this July and return in the summer of 2020. During its three years at sea the vessel and the Monaco Explorations team, as well as a rotating group of scientific and media teams, will travel to nine remote areas around the globe to conduct scientific research.
A “clean ship”, the Yersin has six scientific laboratories with advanced technological equipment and was built in a way that minimised the environmental impact as much as possible.
Also speaking at the press conference was Margaret Leinen, a member of the Scientific Steering Committee – a global team of scientific experts who are also leaders of research organisations in marine biology. They were instrumental in helping to choose the Monaco Explorations campaign’s scientific programs and the vessel’s equipment because, as Leinen said: “Research is expensive yet time at sea is essential.
“Scientists need innovative and efficient infrastructures, equipment and state of the art ships to conduct sampling and observations that further our understanding of the ocean. Having this ship, designed for science and on expeditions that will visit all oceans is a significant opportunity thanks to Monaco Explorations.”
The campaign will begin with its first stop in Macaronesia off the western coast of Africa, where researchers will study biodiversity and megafauna, extract environmental DNA and develop knowledge and understanding of global warming’s biological and chemical effects.