30 March 2021

First meeting of the Advisory Committee of Monaco Explorations Indian Ocean Expedition

The Indian Ocean mission under study

Monaco Explorations are preparing a large-scale expedition in the Western Indian Ocean. This expedition will take place between Reunion Island, Mauritius and Seychelles, with a particular focus on Saya de Malha, one of the biggest seagrass beds of the world on the Mascarene Plateau. This area is home to ecosystems that are little known because they are remote and difficult to access. Scientists from different backgrounds, as well as policymakers and media specialist will collaborate and pool their efforts to investigate the area, raise awareness on their value and the pressures they face, and develop guidance, resources and tools to assist Mauritius and Seychelles in the sustainable joint management of their resources.


To warrant that the project implements a multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach, including natural and social sciences, in accordance with sustainability science principles, an Advisory Committee composed of fourteen renowned experts from around the world has been established to support and advise Monaco Explorations.


The Committee held its kick off meeting on March 30 to agree on its terms of reference and develop a work plan.


Drawing on their extensive knowledge of the region and their broad expertise, the members of the Committee discussed the contents of a baseline study (inventory of previous expeditions and work, governance issues, scientific issues, communication and outreach issues) which will guide the scope and conduct of the expedition. The preliminary list of items identified by the Committee for further consideration includes oceanography and hydrodynamics, coral reef and seagrass, pelagic ecology, seamounts, fisheries, deep sea ecology, blue economy dimension, social and human sciences, international governance and maritime zones, ocean literacy.

Screenshot 30032019 _ VF advisory committee
Top to bottom rows, from left to right: Anwar Rumjaun, Gilles Bessero, David Obura Nadine Marshall, Tessa Hempson, Robert Calcagno, Carl Gustaf Lundin (Chair) Nick D’Adamo, Alex Rogers, Olivier Laroussinie, Heather Koldewey

The Committee members are:

  • Carl Gustaf Lundin (chair): Principal Scientist, Global Marine and Polar Programme, IUCN
  • Dominique Benzaken: Policy expert (blue economy, blue finance), Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong, Australia; World Bank Consultant
  • Nick D’Adamo: Head – Perth Programme Office in support of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
  • Sylvia Earle: Founder and President of Mission Blue; National Geographic Explorer in Residence; Founder, Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, USA
  • Tessa Hempson: Principal Scientist and Programme Officer, Oceans without Borders
  • Nirmal Jivan Shah, Chief Executive, Nature Seychelles
  • Heather Koldewey: Senior Technical Advisor, Zoological Society of London; Head of Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science; Honorary Professor, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  • Olivier Laroussinie: Director of Maritime Planning and Major Projects, Technical Directorate for Risks, Water and the Sea, Cerema, France
  • Margaret Leinen: Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences and Dean of the School of Marine Sciences, University of California, San Digeo, USA
  • Nadine Marshall: Environmental Social Scientist, formerly at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Australia
  • David Obura: Director, Coastal Oceans Research and Development – Indian Ocean (CORDIO), East Africa
  • Alex Rogers: Science Director, REV Ocean, Norway; Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Anwar Rumjaun: Associate Professor, Mauritius Institute of Education
  • François Simard (Secretary): Deputy Director and Senior Advisor for Fisheries, IUCN
The Indian Ocean expedition is included  in the contribution proposed by the Principality of Monaco to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences  for Sustainable Development 2021-2030.
It will also contribute to the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2, 2015 2025) and to the Nippon Foundation – GEBCO project Seabed 2030.
The preparation of the Expedition is led by Robert Calcagno, Chief Executive Officer of the Oceanographic Institute and General Manager of Monaco Explorations, Gilles Bessero, Chief Operation Officer of Monaco Explorations and Olivier Dufourneaud, Vice-President, Ocean Policy of the Oceanographic Institute.