Around twenty heads of state are coming to Brest today for two days for the One Ocean Summit. The idea behind this event, within the framework of France’s presidency of the European Union, is to provide a meeting point for science, culture, education, protected marine areas as well as the ‘blue economy’, a term whose definition and vision should be approached with caution.
The ocean is therefore seen both as an essential and fragile environment that must be protected from human activity, as well as a resource of great geopolitical and financial interest. In this way, scientists’ opinions also differ as to the attitude they should have towards the issue of deep sea mining. Françoise Gaill, emeritus research director and advisor to the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) general directorate, believes that it is essential to “promote the exploration of large beds, to discover new species interactions (…) and map them geographically, genetically or in terms of energy.” (1). However, Chris Bowler, CNRS research director and head of the plant and seaweed genomic laboratory at the École Normale Supérieure, thinks that “this ambition to exploit [seabed] mining resources is unreasonable.” He also reiterates that “certain NGOs fear that the Brest summit may promote their exploitation.” (1)
Edible seaweed: a resource for a change of model?
If we add to this danger the current plastic pollution in oceans, the situation becomes alarming. There are no less than eleven million tonnes of plastic thrown into the sea each year and ingested by the fauna before ending up on… our plates. According to the WWF, humans consume 5g of microplastics a week, the equivalent of a credit card.
However, humanity is well aware of what it owes to the ocean. 50% of the oxygen available on earth comes from the sea. 50% of the global population lives less than 100 km from the coast and 3.5 billion humans are fed by the oceans.
In this way, seaweed could soon be an asset to respond to these different challenges. It is an economic, food as well as ecological resource with its capacity to capture CO₂. This consensus should be mentioned during these three days of forums and workshops that can be followed live on the Internet after registering on the website: http://oneoceansummit.fr/
(1) Le Figaro: Wednesday, February 9, 2022 – page 10