The primary goal of the project, named ‘eBioAtlas: Biodiversity Sampling from Cruise Liners using eDNA,’ is to collect comprehensive biodiversity data from marine species using DNA sampling. By collecting eDNA from seawater and sending it to NatureMetrics for analysis, MSC Cruises will help to discover and record the marine wildlife present across its sailing routes.
MSC will have four ships collect samples over 11 cruises, for a total of 114 sampling days this year.
Harnessing eDNA to drive conservation efforts
‘Our innovative partnership with NatureMetrics is more than just a strategic alliance,’ explained Linden Coppell, VP of sustainability and ESG at MSC Cruises. ‘It's a commitment to harnessing advanced eDNA technologies and global collaboration to drive our sustainability and conservation efforts. It's about utilising our resources wisely and optimising processes to make the best possible decisions for our planet's future.’
The data will contribute to eBioAtlas – a global programme by NatureMetrics and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – that aims to help move the needle on global priorities such as climate mitigation, adaptation and food security.
The eBioAtlas programme will acquire biodiversity data from three different MSC Cruises itineraries, providing accurate information for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This data will be made accessible to third parties free of charge, fostering conservation and restoration efforts throughout the Northern Atlantic.
Dr Kat Bruce, founder of NatureMetrics, said ‘the time for decisive action is now.’ She added, ‘Collaboration is crucial in our quest to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by the end of the decade. MSC's pioneering work to collect and share biodiversity data with our eBioAtlas programme will unlock nature insights that allow us to make informed decisions on marine conservation globally…’
MSC Euribia first to participate
The first ship to participate in the sampling initiative will be the brand-new ship MSC Euribia, which will commence data collection in the Nordic region (Norway and North Sea,) followed by MSC Poesia (Iceland, Greenland) and MSC Preziosa (Iceland, Norway and Svalbard.) Seawater samples will be collected from the vessels' seawater intakes using specially designed eDNA collection kits. These samples will then be sealed and sent to NatureMetrics for DNA analysis. The results, along with location details, will be shared with the IUCN.
Daniela Picco, executive director of the MSC Foundation, described it as ‘natural for us to join forces with NatureMetrics to support vital biodiversity mapping, assisting the International Union for Conservation of Nature to perform the assessments that are critical indicators of global biodiversity health.’
Marina Anselme, the MSC Foundation’s secretary general, added, ‘The MSC Foundation is delighted to facilitate and fund this groundbreaking partnership with NatureMetrics and MSC Cruises. This partnership is a testament to our commitment to protect our oceans and create a nature-positive future for generations to come.’