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Research for the protection of oceans

The European Commission has, at the suggestion of Mrs. Cresson, Member of the Commission responsible for research, innovation, education, training and youth, approved the financing of 56 new research projects in the field of marine sciences and technologies. Overall Community ...
The European Commission has, at the suggestion of Mrs. Cresson, Member of the Commission responsible for research, innovation, education, training and youth, approved the financing of 56 new research projects in the field of marine sciences and technologies. Overall Community financing for these projects, which constitute the second phase of the Marine Sciences and Technologies (MAST III) programme, will amount to ECU 76 million.

The projects have been selected following the second call for proposals for the MAST programme, which covered the following four fields:

- Health of the oceans and management for their sustainable use;
- Coastal zone management;
- Operational forecasting;
- Technological opportunities.

This research work to be carried out should improve knowledge of the marine environment as well as its management, while at the same time reinforcing links within the European oceanographic community and stimulating the development of marine technologies.

With a budget of ECU 244 million for the period 1995-1998, the MAST III programme comprises three major areas of research:

- Marine sciences;
- Strategic marine research (primarily research on the coastal zone);
- Marine technologies.

In all these areas, Europe is well placed in relation to the other large industrialized blocks. It is at the forefront of coastal research and in certain technological sectors (for example, underwater reconnaissance vehicles). The MAST III programme should make it possible to maintain and improve the position of the European Union in these fields.

The projects selected cover a wide range of research topics, from exploiting the resources of the ocean and developing tools for underwater exploration, to reducing the consequences linked to the proliferation of toxic algae. Examples of the projects to be funded include:

- MARGENES (Marine bacterial genes and isolates as sources of novel biotechnolgical products): The development and application of a new molecular strategy to turn the biodiversity of marine bacteria into new biotechnological products;

- PROMOLEC (Prochlorococcus molecular ecology): Aims to exploit the tools and the concepts of molecular biology to study the prochlorococcus, a marine photosynthetic micro-organism of remarkable ecological importance;

- SWAN (Shallow water acoustic communication network): Intended to define the operational conditions of a network with a view to improving underwater acoustic communications in shallow water;

- EURODOCKER: A universal docking/downloading/recharging system for AUVs;

- ARAMIS: Advanced ROV package for automatic mobile inspection of sediments;

- HYACE (Hydrate autoclave coring equipment system): Developing and testing the prototype of a new system which should allow improved analyses of sediments taken from the sea floor;

- OPCOM (Operational modelling for coastal zone management): Aims to improve methods and techniques for continuous monitoring and forecasting of coastal waters;

- LOLEIF: Validation of low level ice forces on coastal structures with a view to optimising engineering design in Arctic regions;

- NUTOX: Studying the proliferation of toxic algae in European waters with a view to reducing its consequences.

Source: European Commission, DG XII

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