FAO and Norway Will Launch Vessel to Study Marine Ecosystems, Climate Change

fao-norway9 June 2014: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) announced that it will partner with Norway to build a state-of-the-art research vessel as part of its efforts to support sustainable fisheries management.

The US$80 million research vessel, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, will employ sonar equipment to map fish distribution, a remotely-operated underwater vehicle to photograph the ocean floor and seven laboratories to collect data on marine ecosystems, climate change and pollution. It will fly the UN flag, which will allow it to carry out research activities across jurisdictional boundaries.

The Dr. Fridtjof Nansen will replace an older vessel with the same name that has navigated the African coast since 1993, contributing to in-depth research on Africa's marine ecosystems as part of the 40-year EAF-Nansen Project. Through the project, scientists from 32 coastal African countries and the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR) have surveyed marine ecosystems, gathered data on fish stocks, water and sediment quality and used 3D imagery to map the seabed. African countries have used this information to develop fisheries management plans focused on maintaining ecosystem health and productivity.

The project aims to build the capacity of developing countries to carry out their own marine ecosystem assessments and prepare and implement fisheries management plans. As a result of the project, 16 African countries have developed fisheries management plans. Cameroon, Gabon and Nigeria have prepared plans on industrial shrimp fisheries while Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo have developed plans to minimize the damage caused by beach seine fisheries. Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania also developed fisheries management plans as part of their engagement in the project.

The project is also expected to monitor offshore oil and gas mining. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) provides support for the project, which is implemented by FAO with scientific support from IMR. [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release] [EAF-Nansen Website]