Today HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco launches the Monaco Explorations Campaign, a three-year circumnavigation of the world’s oceans and seas. With this campaign, the Principality makes a travelling research platform, the Yersin, available to a scienti c community of researchers from all over the world.
“The decisions we have to make for the future of our planet are based on knowledge.” said the Prince “… By returning to the principle of scienti c explorations at sea we will pro- vide new concrete elements underpinning the messages of alert, awareness and education.”
The Yersin, flying the Monegasque flag, will leave the port of Monaco in August 2017 and return to Monaco in 2020 following a longitudinal route along the tropics.
The areas of study were selected by a Scienti c Steering Committee headed by Professor Patrick Rampal of the Monaco Scientific Center. The committee includes 10 members from institutions of international renown. It has been selecting programs for several months among the dozens submitted. “It is both an immense honor to participate in such an adventure and a great distress to see from the records of how badly we have treated our oceans.” said Pr Rampal.
The first of these missions will take place in September 2017 in Macaronesia around the archipelagos of Madeira and Cape Verde. Prince Albert I, who often visited this area, inspired the research teams. Comparative studies will allow analysis of the effects of sea exploitation and global change. The mission will focus on the knowledge and protection of megafauna, including threatened species: turtles, cetaceans, monk seals, and sharks. The researchers will observe the biodiversity still poorly known at great depth and its sensitivity to global warming. The scientific missions will then pass through the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and then the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
Robert Calcagno of the Oceanographic Institute is at the head of these multidisciplinary missions, which combine natural and human sciences, environment and man. “The campaign will show that science and public awareness are inseparable. Research programs are selected not only for their contribution to knowledge, but also for their ability to disseminate it and to bring a message to decision-makers and the public.”
Public awareness, especially for young people, must be innovative in order to connect the public with the challenges of the ocean. The emphasis will be on immersion, 360° video, social networks, and live content.
The Yersin is versatile and modular, optimal for traveling, exploring and teaching, and it also offers exceptional safety conditions. This scientific base “clean ship” is capable of traveling the seas for 50 days autonomously, and 10 days with zero discharge. The ships owner, François Fiat, says “In its design and operating conditions, this ship exceeds international regulatory requirements to limit its impact on the marine environment in full adequacy with the nature of these missions.”
The Princely Government actively supports the research program by providing resources of staff, materials, and funding. “Under the orority of HSH Prince Albert II”, said Marie-Pierre Gramaglia, Minister of Public Works, the Environment and Urban Development, “… the Principality and the Government pursue an ambitious policy in favor of the oceans. Whether it is through local measures or through the intervention of the Sovereign in multilateral forums, this policy, in which Monaco Explorations fully takes place, aims at reconnecting humanity and the sea. “
With the Monaco Explorations Campaign, the Principality returns to a beautiful tradition. From Prince Albert I, considered the father of modern oceanography, to Commander Cousteau, Monaco has gained a special place in the world of marine science and international recognition.