The Veolia Foundation is going to support the next Tara Ocean expedition in the Mediterranean in 2014

The Mediterranean, which covers 1% of the world's total ocean area, is home to around 10% of marine biological diversity. Nowadays its large cities are saturated, while nearly one-quarter of our planet's marine traffic is concentrated in the Mediterranean, there are increasingly severe problems related to different kinds of land-based pollution, and they are exerting pressure on the marine ecosystem that plays a fundamental role for the world's population and for life generally speaking. One of these forms of pollution, in other words the increasing presence of micro-plastics in the sea, and the fact they are most likely entering the food chain, is a major concern.

During this expedition, an interdisciplinary study, jointly headed by the University of Michigan (USA) and the Villefranche-sur-Mer Oceanography Laboratory (CNRS), will be conducted in order to qualify the nature of plastic debris and quantify their breakdown by size and weight. Scientists will remain all the time on the Tara to oversee research procedures. The findings of this study will provide the basis for advocacy actions aimed at steering decision-makers in Mediterranean coastal countries into better taking this kind of pollution into account.

This expedition, Tara's tenth since 2003, will also provide an opportunity to promote awareness in the general public about the numerous environmental challenges facing this virtually landlocked sea. Cooperation is planned with MedPAN, the network of marine protected area managers in the Mediterranean. The Convention on Biological Diversity has set the following target for the network: marine protected areas are to cover 10% of the world's oceans by 2020.

Initiated by the "Tara Expeditions" endowment fund, this project is supported by several partners including the CNRS, or French Center for Scientific Research, (Villefranche-sur-Mer Marine Station), the Paul Ricard Oceanographic Institute, IFREMER (French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea) and the University of Maine and the University of Michigan in the United States as well as NASA. The program is backed by several multilateral institutions affected by the problem, such as the Action Plan for the Mediterranean, the Union for the Mediterranean, the European Commission's Environment DG and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO/IOC).


Environment and Biodiversity | France (Morbihan) | 2009/06/11
Tara Oceans
An unprecedented three-year scientific expedition on all the seas of the globe (understanding the spatial organisation of ecosystems and understanding their response to atmospheric viariations).