Monaco Ocean Week; top ocean conservation initiatives

Posted by on April 21, 2022

Monaco Ocean Week took place last month, underscoring the principality’s ongoing commitment to protecting and preserving the health of the world’s oceans for future generations.

As a principality bordered by the sea, ocean conservation has played a significant role in Monegasque culture.

Prince Albert II of Monaco is one of the world’s leading philanthropists dedicated to ocean conservation. Over the last 15 years, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has invested nearly US$99 million to fund 700 projects that focus on limiting the effects of climate change.

Today, Monaco remains at the forefront of marine conservation, making it one of the most desirable places for ocean enthusiasts to reside. Read on to discover some of the top ocean conservation initiatives in light of Monaco Ocean Week.

What is Monaco Ocean Week?

Monaco Ocean Week offers a superb opportunity for key players and international organisations to share their experiences and deepen the discussion on the action taken to safeguard the marine environment and the sustainable development of a “blue” economy.

The six-day event held more than 30 events throughout the principality, some of which were open to the public. The relationship between climate change and the degradation of the oceans, the issue of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean, and the importance of developing Marine Protected Areas were important topics raised in a spirit of genuine openness to the principality’s residents.

Protecting Posidonia

As part of an extensive Monaco ocean protection challenge, Andromède Océanologie has recently begun carrying out transplants of protected species such as Posidonia and various types of gorgonians and corals to protect against damage from the land extension project underway in Monaco.

Posidonia is a protected species of underwater plant that is incredibly beneficial in increasing biodiversity and forming habitats for aquatic ecosystems. Grown in expansive meadows, Posidonia can be found in abundance on the seafloor off Monaco.

Until recently, there was no practical method for transporting the Posidonia to new areas where it could be beneficial to cultivating marine life. However, in 2017, 500 square metres of Posidonia were transplanted to a nearby site, presenting environmental conditions favourable to the herbarium development. Today, the Posidonia is undergoing ten years of monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of the graft. The initiative will constitute substantial progress in Monaco’s ocean protection challenges if the transplantation proves successful.

Saving the sea turtles

The Oceanographic Institute is a leading player in sustainability and conservation initiatives in Monaco.

One of its recent successes is the rescue centre for marine turtles in difficulty. Inaugurated in 2019 by Prince Albert II, the centre has been taking in wounded or injured sea turtles that have been injured in boat collisions, trapped in fishing nets and harmed by plastic waste.

The turtles are taken care of in a 160 m³ open-air rehabilitation pond before being released into the wild. The centre’s efforts also extend beyond turtle conservation, helping with projects to support Mediterranean biodiversities, such as future projects protecting seahorses and large mother-of-pearl.

Oceanographic Museum

Monaco’s Musée Océanographique is a leader in what is known as the Monaco “Blue Initiative,” becoming the first museum to celebrate the world’s oceans.

The aquarium is home to 6,000 specimens of Mediterranean and tropical fish living in environments that accurately reflect their natural habitat. Visible from four different viewpoints, visitors can get close to octopuses, clownfish and moray eels. The museum is also dedicated to the importance of sharks, offering a six-metre deep fish tank boasting several shark species.

The aquarium contains the largest collection of marine curiosities and pays homage to the heritage of Prince Albert I through its superb range of specimens, artefacts and documents related to oceanographic history. Under the motto of its founder, “to know, love and protect the oceans,” the museum proudly welcomes 700,000 visitors annually.

Maraterra district

Monaco’s ocean protection challenges are also reflected in the city-state’s ongoing efforts to create greener and more eco-friendly developments.

Mareterra Monaco is billed as the most spectacular sustainable development in Europe, expanding Monaco’s coastline 15 acres into the Mediterranean Sea.

The eco-district offers a new level of super-prime real estate, offering luxury townhouses, penthouses, and sea view apartments. With strong eco-credentials, preparations were made in 2016 to protect the surrounding habitats. Work by marine biologists included ocean protection challenges to save the protected Posidonia and the relocation of fragile corals to new sea beds. Three-dimensional printed reefs were also placed 27-metres offshore to provide a new surface for corals and crustaceans to attach to and help prevent coastal erosion.

There can be no question that Monaco Ocean Week is an influential force in creating meaningful change and preserving the oceans for generations to come.