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Swan pledges to offer up fleet for research on restoring marine biodiversity

Article-Swan pledges to offer up fleet for research on restoring marine biodiversity

Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito (centre) on board SH Vega during the signing of the agreement
Swan Hellenic is putting its fleet at the disposal of Philippe Cousteau Foundation and SDG4MED so their scientists may gauge the health of this blue planet in its most remote regions, including the Arctic, Antarctica and Africa.

SH Vega hosted a ceremony for the agreement between Swan and the two foundations to jointly contribute to the European Union Mission ‘Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030’ today in Spain.

The three organisations were among the first in the world to endorse the Mission Charter, which aims to create a sustainable, carbon-neutral, circular blue economy that plays a key role in achieving climate neutrality (since the oceans are major carbon sinks) protect biodiversity and foster economic prosperity, being expected to generate €2.5t per year by 2030.

The Mission 2030 targets include a 30% reduction in marine microplastics and the deployment of EU carbon neutral, circular blue economy communities.

‘Oceans are like humans’ 

Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito described the ambitions as ‘embedded in our DNA.’ He said, ‘Oceans are like humans. A full picture of health parameters enables effective medical treatment. Using commercial ships as sensors of ocean health is just common sense and I am pleased that Swan Hellenic is able to help make this a reality and best practice.’ 

He added, ‘Our new commitment with this partnership is in many ways a natural extension of our existing practice of inviting cruise guests to actively contribute to a series of leading citizen science programmes, providing data on the environment and marine life, while building their awareness and knowledge of scientific initiatives.’ 

Spanish prime minister: ‘A source of inspiration and hope’ 

Offering his congratulations on the signing, which he described as ‘a landmark agreement,’ Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, who is also the institutional president of the Philippe Cousteau Foundation, remarked, ‘...It is not only an important early milestone in the EU Mission to help restore the balance between human activity and the health of our planet, it is also an important commitment to the values of peace, as recognised by the involvement of the World Peace Forum… As such it is a source both of inspiration and of hope.’

Sending an important message, Rafael Lobeto Lobo, secretary general of the Philippe Cousteau Foundation and former director general of the Spanish Merchant Navy, commented, ‘Life on Earth depends on the health of the connected system of the oceans, seas and inland waters, which cover around 75% of the Earth’s surface. It regulates our climate and provides oxygen, drinking water, clean energy and food. Yet man-made changes are putting our ocean and waters at serious risk, with pollution and global heating causing biodiversity loss and extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.’ 

A collective approach is essential

In late 2021, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU mandated the EU Commission to accelerate ocean and water health conservation and restoration worldwide. The resulting EU Mission is a coordinated effort to pool the necessary financial, scientific and operational resources. All three organisations already have their own individual Mission Charter commitments: the Philippe Cousteau Foundation promotes ocean literacy in schools and among fishermen and seafarers, SDG4MED makes its LIFE4MEDECA Knowledge Center available to municipalities to pursue a shared action plan, and Swan Hellenic aims to continually invest in the latest green technologies and operations. 

But as SDG4MED president Mario Dogliani explained, individual initiatives are not sufficient. ‘Acting together will greatly amplify what we are able to achieve through our efforts. This partnership offers us a vital tool – Swan Hellenic’s ships and their destinations – to collect data on ocean health with previously inconceivable reach and granularity.’ 

Concluded Dogliani, ‘Data collected in rarely accessed ocean areas will improve the accuracy of scientists’ assessments of ocean health and its evolution. Moreover, the direct involvement of Swan Hellenic crew and guests paves the way for a new era of sustainable, ecologically aware cruising.’


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