A Norwegian research vessel deemed the most technologically advanced in the world set out from Durban on Friday to assist coastal African countries with data collection to promote sustainable marine and fishing environments.
The Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, a state-of-the-art vessel equipped with three major and several minor laboratories, sailed from Cape Town to Durban this week and will be making her way to the Richards Bay and Mozambique coasts before sailing further up the eastern shores of the continent.
Operated by Norway’s institute of marine research and funded by the Norwegian government and the United Nationals Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Nansen is the only ship to fly the UN flag.
Scientists aboard the vessel work in collaboration with their local peers and local students to identify and map changing ocean trends, monitor fish stocks and measure temperature, salinity and oxygen levels.
All collected data is made available through a central database to partner countries and is used to introduce or amend policy to promote sustainable fishery, management and conservation.
Trine Skymoen, Norwegian ambassador to South Africa, Botswana, Madagascar and Namibia, said this particular Nansen was the third to bear the name and was christened in March last year.
Skymoen was speaking at the official send-off at M Shed Port, where she was joined by agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, Senzeni Zokwana.
“Vast amounts of research data have been collected, greatly improving the quality of research in African waters,” said Skymoen, adding that many countries participating in the programme had no other marine data besides what was collected with the Nansen.
Zokwana said that data collected from the Nansen was used to gain knowledge of marine ecosystems and support fisheries management decisions. “I am delighted to mention that the Nansen research vessel has been providing great assistance on fisheries research in African countries including South Africa,” he said.
Much of Norway’s income is derived from the ocean. The country is known to use research and technology to manage its resources and is considered a global leader in the ocean’s economy.