[WILD_SEAS] Ambitious bid launched for worldwide marine census

From: wildnet (wildnet@ecoterra.net)
Date: Thu Feb 22 2001 - 11:56:42 EST


Comment: SCIENCE PER SE - IS OK!, but in todays world one always has to
ask - where is the money coming from and where shall the benefits of
research finally flow to. The genom-hunters and patent-gatherers are
right out there to make one thing sure: Nobody shall have the benefits
of nature and to enjoy nature - for free. After the rainforests now the
deep oceans are the last safes to be plundered. Let us not only hope,
but make sure that independent scientific bodies and the people stay in
charge of such programmes - and not governments and not corporations.
Censi are usually power-instruments - PRINCIPIIS OBSTA!

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Ambitious bid launched for worldwide marine census
AUSTRALIA: February 22, 2001

SYDNEY - Marine scientists from across Australia are meeting at
laboratories this week as part of an ambitious $1 billion international
attempt to record all life in the world’s oceans, officials said
yesterday.

The International Census of Marine Life, being led by US groups, could
settle once and for all whether fabled animals such as Jules Verne’s
giant squid populate the uncharted ocean depths. “We should give them
(giant squids) a run for their money if they were (down there),” said
Don Michel, communications director of the Marine Research division of
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
(CSIRO).

Only around five percent of the world’s oceans have been surveyed for
marine life - mostly in coastal regions.

The international census, expected to take 10 years, is being promoted
by Jesse Ausubel of the US-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a private
philanthropic organisation that fosters scientific programmes.

An international steering committee from marine research institutions in
the United States, Europe and Japan is due to release a scientific
strategy for the data collection of the census later this year.

HIGH TECH SURVEY

So far 63 institutions in 15 countries had begun work around the world
on an ocean bio-geographical information system that would support the
census, Ausubel said in a CSIRO statement.

The Australian scientists were meeting in Hobart, on the island of
Tasmania, to discuss Australia’s possible contribution to the project

The census would be conducted through multi-scanning technologies which
can map the acoustic signatures of a wide range of sea life, Michel told
Reuters.

Subsequent physical sampling of selected areas would then produce data
that would be fed into super computers which would create models to
produce fairly accurate estimates of most major forms of marine life.

The census would also use advanced electronic data-storage tags to track
and monitor the behaviour of large animals at the top of the food chain,
such as whales, sea turtles and tuna, offering clues to the distribution
and abundance of many other marine species, Ausubel said.

In addition, plans were under way to charter a ship “to go around the
world in a Charles Darwin sort of way”, conducting deep water tests for
viruses and bacteria, Michel said. “(There could be) huge pharmaceutical
applications,” he said.

The census project is expected to be backed by about $500 million from
the United States, with the remaining $500 million expected to be
contributed by Japan, Europe and other participants including Australia,
Michel said.

SOURCE: Story by Michael Byrnes REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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