19 December 2011: Leading ocean companies have initiated a major new World Ocean Council (WOC) program to increase and better coordinate the collecting of ocean and atmospheric information from ships and offshore structures.

Representatives from shipping, oil and gas, marine technology and other sectors met with scientists, government agencies, and inter-governmental organizations at the first WOC “Smart Ocean / Smart Industries” workshop, hosted by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) on 12-13 December 2011 in Paris.

The unique gathering attracted more than double the number of participants anticipated and sparked immediate, concrete action. Within less than 24 hours of the workshop, several participant companies offered to deploy oceanographic sensors from their vessels in areas where more data is needed.

The event was designed to develop a common understanding among ocean industries and the scientific community on voluntary observation programs, understand the key barriers to scaling up these efforts and develop the principles, roadmap and workplan for moving forward. The ultimate goal is a global program to facilitate, coordinate and ramp up the efficient, cost effective ocean and atmospheric information collection by a growing number and range of vessels and platforms.

To foster and coordinate progress towards this goal, the workshop proposed creating a Smart Ocean/Smart Industries steering committee. The committee would bring together representatives of both the industry players interested in advancing observations from their ships and platforms as well as the key scientific, government and intergovernmental organizations engaged in observation efforts.

At Maersk Line, Eskild Lund Sorensen, Environmental Manager stated, “The inaugural Smart Oceans/Smart Industries workshop was a tremendous success. Maersk joined the WOC to establish a group for cross-sectoral collaboration between commercial and scientific organizations. The enthusiastic engagement from the high number participants drawn to this unique event confirms our decision that joining the WOC to help lead this effort was a great way for Maersk to further implement our commitment to ocean sustainability.”

The WOC Smart Ocean / Smart Industries Working Group co-chaired by A.P Moeller-Maersk and Transocean will continue to facilitate and organize ocean business community involvement in the initiative. The WOC Working Group will further engage the scientific, government and intergovernmental community to identify the appropriate organizations and representatives to involve in the initiative.

IOC Executive Secretary, Wendy Watson-Wright, declared that, “The WOC Smart Ocean/Smart Industries workshop was an unprecedented gathering of industry, government and science. The WOC has created major interest and momentum for significantly scaling up ocean and climate observations by industry through a coordinated international program. The IOC was pleased to host the initial workshop and looks forward to continuing to work closely with the WOC and its members, the scientific community and our UN agency colleagues to move this forward.”

Leadership companies are encouraged to participate in the Smart Oceans/Smart Industries initiative. Ocean business efforts to expand ocean, weather and climate information will improve the modeling and predictability of weather, ocean conditions and climate change, and support the responsible use of ocean space and resources – all with clear benefits for business, science, government, and society.

The workshop presentations, report and recommendations will be posted on the WOC website as soon as possible. Companies and other parties interested in the initiative should contact: paul.holthus@oceancouncil.org

Contact: Paul Holthus +1 (808) 277-9008 paul.holthus@oceancouncil.org