SDG14, the UN “oceans goal”, is not just about protecting the seas or stopping illegal fishing. It also includes a special provision, called “Target 14.a”, that focuses on advancing our scientific knowledge of the oceans, as well as improving the spread of relevant technology to the countries that need it.
“Marine technology” is commonly thought of as the technologies used in exploiting, protecting and intervening in the marine environment. We’re talking about ship design, oil and gas exploration, hydrodynamics, navigation, marine resources (including both renewable and non-renewable marine resources) … but also protection of the marine environment.
This collection of “top 5 websites” is a little different from the others on our site, because the things you’ll find in some of them are not always “sustainable” — but they will tell you a lot about what’s happening in this fast-changing field. Especially the first one!
This is a news portal focusing on current developments in marine industrial technology. Its topics range from offshore energy, hydrographic and subsea defense, to ocean observation and science. A quick glance gives you the news on innovations as diverse as Dutch personal submarines and Danish buoys harnessing wave energy. This site is not necessarily the “greenest” site on the web … but it’s the place to go if you want to find out what’s happening in the field of marine technology (for better, for worse, or somewhere in between).
MarTERA is a scheme under the Horizon 2020 strategy of the European Commission, with the objective to strengthen European research in maritime and marine technologies as well as Blue Growth. The purpose of MarTERA is to address a number of identified challenges, such as facilitating transnational synergies in industry, technology and research. The EU’s policy on Blue Growth does include provisions intended to aim ocean development in a sustainable direction, but you will have to judge for yourself how sustainable these approaches are.
As an example of what leading nations are doing to further development in this area, consider The Research Council of Norway — a power player in the marine technology field because of its extensive off-shore drilling operations, fishing fleets, aquaculture, and recent explorations into prospects for undersea mining. The Council expanded its focus on marine technology in 2016, and now offers a total of NOK 100 million in funding for new innovation projects. This initiative encompasses three joint calls for proposals, all of which provide funding for technology projects that crosscut the different maritime industries. The Council, in typical Norwegian fashion, takes a very all-encompassing and not-necessarily-sustainable approach, emphasizing the potential for both knowledge and technology transfer between the maritime-based petroleum, renewable energy, shipping, fisheries and aquaculture industries.
If you want specifics, the following programmes are involved in the marine technology initiative:
- Research Programme on Sustainable Innovation in Food and Bio-based Industries (BIONÆR)
- Large-Scale Programme for Energy Research (ENERGIX)
- Large-scale Programme on Aquaculture Research (HAVBRUK)
- Marine Resources and the Environment (MARINFORSK)
- Innovation Programme for Maritime Activities and Offshore Operations (MAROFF)
- Large-scale Programme for Petroleum Research (PETROMAKS2)
For a very different geographical (and ideological) perspective on how to advance marine science and technology, check out CORE SEA, Center for Oceanic Research and Education South East Asia, an international NGO of scientists, naturalists and environmentalists, operating from Koh Phangan, Thailand, and soon in Indonesia. The organization works with marine conservation, research and education, including training in tropical research diving. Projects range from researching coral restoration methods and creating artificial reef systems, to establishing a network of community led micro marine parks in the region.
Finally, for dose of optimism with a view to advancing ocean restoration with technology, consider Biorock, a technology for preserving coral and marine life. Biorock is based on creating artificial reefs powered with electricity from the surface. The technique has been researched and developed for over 30 years and works by facilitating limestone growth, which is essential to marine life forms such as corals, on metal structures. The technology has also been used to solve a wide variety of marine and coastal problems, including coral reef and fishery habitat restoration, shoreline protection and erosion control measures. Biorock reefs have been set up in more than 20 countries, including Indonesia, Mexico, Maldives, Seychelles and the Marshall Islands — proof that sustainable ocean technology can do well while doing good.
by Björn Eriksson