CORAL: Sustainable Ocean Exploitation: Tools and Sensors

A considerable fraction of human populations inhabit coastal regions and crucially depend on the resources and services provided by marine ecosystems. Historically, fisheries have been a central resource providing a substantial fraction of the human dietary intake, namely vital nutrients for human health. More recent developments have open new horizons for Oceanic resource exploitation, namely those related with discoveries in biotechnology or new mineral non-hydrocarbon sources in deep-sea ecosystems. The later has been more and more often recognized as an important source of minerals and biotech-molecules. The limited available information on deep-sea environments implies a great effort on the acquisition of baseline scientific knowledge to ensure a sustainable and responsible exploitation of deep-sea resources. In this context, the development of adequate technological tools and sensors is a fundamental task. The project devised by CIIMAR and INESC TEC, CORAL - Sustainable Ocean Exploitation: Tools and Sensors, sets as central objective to address the sustainable exploitation of marine resources towards filling societal needs and to propose challenge-driven solutions in deep-sea environments. This implies the improvement of the knowledge of the natural processes governing ocean dynamics and ecosystem functions, as well as the major forces driving ecosystems changes, both on regional and global scales. This approach is also directly linked with our capacity to “measure” resources and the impact of their exploitation, and finally to exploit with minimal environmental impact. Our ability to interpret this conceptual “triad”, Ecosystem - Resources- Environment, is largely dependent with the capacity to develop new tools to in situ measure resources, to collect samples at distance for analysis, to develop new standards for environmental assessment in new frontiers such as deep sea, and thus develop sensing abilities capable of diagnosing vital variables for living organisms in rearing conditions (e.g. aquaculture), but also to exactly anticipate negative impacts in humans and wildlife via the development of biological sensors.