Norway and FAO launch state-of-the art oceanic research ship
Its mission: To investigate some of the planet's least-explored oceans, using cutting-edge technology and sophisticated equipment to help developing countries assemble scientific data critical to sustainable fisheries management and study how a changing climate is affecting our oceans.
The new Dr. Fridtjof Nansen — the 3rd ship to bear that name during an ongoing 40-year partnership between FAO and Norway — houses seven different laboratories packed with high tech gadgetry.
This includes new-generation acoustic gear for biomass assessments and ocean floor mapping, a ROV (remote underwater vehicle) control centre, "manta trawls" that collect plankton and microscopic plastic particles, and a laboratory specifically designed for climate studies - making the Dr Fridtjof Nansen one of the world's most advanced marine research facilities.
As the only research ship on the planet flying the UN flag, the Dr. Fridtjof Nansen is able to sail freely across different jurisdictional boundaries, unfettered in its pursuit of natural resource challenges that transcend borders.
Since the 1970s, scientists working under the Norwegian-FAO effort aboard Nansen research vessels have collaborated with almost all African coastal countries to help them assess fish populations, survey ocean properties such as temperature, salinity and oxygen content, and sample the seafloor to understand better its nature.
Such data — expanded on over time through ongoing research — is essential for the development of fisheries policies that promote better, more sustainable use of marine resources, which are a major source of food and income for millions of the world's poorest people.
Along the way, hundreds of scientists from survey countries — primarily in Africa but also in Asia and South America — have worked and trained aboard Nansen ships, acquiring new skills and knowledge that might have otherwise been out of reach. ■