As we approach the end of January 2019, we thought it might be a good time to look at our priorities for this year, and to think about how we’ll develop over the years ahead. It’s too prescriptive to have a manifesto, as the dynamics of our oceans are changing all of the time, and, as other initiatives take off, we need to be adaptive to doing what is right for the oceans at the time, not what we planned to do a decade earlier.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have aspirations and strong thoughts on our approach and objectives, though.
First, 2019. One word: Plastics. Two word hyphenate: micro-plastics.
These are a biggie, because they have already entered our food systems and water systems, and they are not only killing off wildlife now, they are a potential global killer of humans too.
It is a little early to know for sure how serious the problem will become in the mid-term, but it’s already pretty serious now, so we think it should form part of our approach to the mission one science package. It needs to be core of our research and reporting, so we’re going to make it so.
We haven’t, as yet, got the science-side pinned down, including our equipment analysis and reporting. That comes out of the next steps, planning and implementation, but having it as a stated goal makes a big difference in our thinking and goal objectives: we’re now planning, budgeting and thinking about how we’ll do it as part of the core mission.
For the rest of our 2019 year, as we launch and get up to speed, we’re also thinking hard about the deep ocean mission work that we wish to undertake.
Deep ocean exploration forms mission two, because of the expense, but the more we think about it, the more it should probably be a core part of what we do ongoing as mission one (with enhanced support for mission two), if for no other reason than it is not high on the list of other exploration missions right now. That’s not to say it isn’t there at all, just that it needs to come to the fore so we can spend more time thinking about how to implement.
The whole point of The Ocean Challenge is to not make it a simple trip around the world. That’s what it started out as, as an idea to take the trip, but, as we’ve morphed into a bigger idea of being part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, it keeps some of us up at night that we need to do the very best in every part of the mission to to collect data, video, case notes and more, so that we can provide them to the academic community, and the general public at large, so more work can be done on understanding our oceans further, but also so, through academic research and analysis, our governments can make informed choices about how to tackle the problems our oceans face, both immediately, and long into the future.
One thing we don’t know, for example, is the risk of plastics to the deep oceans. Much of plastic detritus floats. But not all, and we don’t know the extent, if any, of micro-plastic contamination of deeper life systems. That’s on our list as a priority.
Until we hone down the science and delivery requirements, over the next few months, it is tough to know if we can move the deep oceans work into the core journey. We hope we can, but there are significant cost-basis doubts still. We must try, though; it’s important.
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We’ll keep you posted, and would love to hear your thoughts too.
Image Credit: PDCA-Do, by Jurgen Appelo on Flickr under Creative Commons.