« Ils ne savaient pas que c’était impossible, alors ils l’ont fait. »
France's wealth is considerable. It has the second largest maritime territory in the world, nearly 11 million km2 and has one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones. As the owner of an EEZ, it has exclusive sovereign rights over a delimited area that allows it to conserve and manage all natural resources in its EEZ and to explore and exploit the seabed and subsoil of the said zone.
Also, the countless hopeful initiatives that are flourishing are as many treasures of innovation and technology, driven by the deep desire for the common good: "Ecology has symbolically become demarginalized. It has become an authorized subject of political conversation," explains Aurélien Barrau.
The world of hope is Plastic Odyssey, a ship that reduces the Ocean's waste to fuel... with plastic waste. Starting in 2021, it will set off on a 3-year round-the-world expedition. At each port of call, plastic waste will be collected, sorted and transformed into useful objects or materials. The remainder, which cannot be recycled, will be converted into fuel to power the ship.
The world of hope is Energy Observer, the first hydrogen ship aiming at energy autonomy, sailing without greenhouse gas emissions or fine particles. Equipped with 200m2 of solar panels, it draws its energy from nature. Sponsored by Nicolas Hulot, this former racing boat has been reconditioned into a vessel of the future with electric propulsion. Today, Jérémie Lagarrigue, engineer, is at the helm of EODev, a subsidiary of Energy Observer, created to industrialize and commercialize the solutions resulting from Energy Observer's feedback. Hervé Gastinel, ex-CEO of the French Beneteau Group and now a private investor, explains: "States are beginning to move towards a transition to a blue, decarbonized economy, notably through hydrogen. Hydrogen seems more promising for the nautical sector than electricity. The fuel cell has a lot of merits and allows the problems linked to electric batteries to be dealt with. Hydrogen can be produced on board large units or stored with suitable tanks. The challenge is the equipment of ports, which will have to be equipped with sufficient storage and power supply capacities. Support from public authorities will be necessary. Major national and European investments are currently taking place. In my opinion, we will soon be talking about equipment rates rather than technical problems. »
The world of hope is The SeaCleaners and its ship, the Manta, which intends to collect plastic macro-waste in areas of high density before it disintegrates and disperses.
The world of hope is Sea Shepherd, the most combative international NGO for the protection of the Ocean in the world, created by Paul Watson, which intervenes in an active and non-violent manner in cases of illegal attacks on marine life and marine ecosystems. The Member States of the United Nations have moreover established in 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, 17 in number. Goal 14 says "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development". For fisheries alone, the global demand for fish continues to grow. A European eats an average of 20 kg of fish per year, twice as much as 50 years ago. According to the WWF, 4 out of every 10 fish caught in the world are caught accidentally, which means tens of billions of animals die every year for nothing. Goal 14 stipulates, among other things, that by 2020 "prohibit fishing subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate those that promote illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from granting new ones, bearing in mind that the granting of effective and appropriate special and differentiated treatment to developing and least developed countries must be an integral part of the negotiations on fishing subsidies within the framework of the World Trade Organization".
The world of hope is also Proteus, a colossal project led by Fabien Cousteau. Looking like a space station, Proteus will be the future research center of the Ocean. Océanaute, a researcher at the head of the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center Foundation, the grandson of Commander Cousteau is embarking on a planetary mission: to build the world's largest underwater research base in the Caribbean.
The Maud Fontenoy Foundation, recognized as a public utility, is the world of hope for tomorrow. It conducts environmental education programs for the young generation and the general public, in France and abroad.
The world of hope is Andromeda Oceanology, co-created by Laurent Ballesta, diver, artist, naturalist and photographer. For the past 10 years he has directed the Gombessa Expeditions, which are based on three emblematic values: a scientific mystery, a diving challenge and the promise of unpublished artistic images.
The world of hope is the Laboratory of Bioacoustic Applications at the Polytechnic University of Catalogue, founded and directed by bioacoustician Michel André, who listens to the seabed. "The oceans are going to die because of noise. The entire food chain is affected in all the seas of the world," he explains. The balance of the oceans depends on sounds. Sound is the only way for marine organisms to communicate and exchange information, since light does not penetrate. Sound is life. Polluting these channels of communication means condemning animals to irremissible imbalances. More than 100,000 container ships criss-cross the seas every day, not to mention fishing boats, pleasure boats, etc. It's a constant, cacophonous hubbub". It has become essential to drastically reduce the noise emissions we produce, for the good of all living things.
The world of hope is also a very strong underlying trend, driven by the nautical industry, which has great challenges to meet. The PACTE law of 2019 has moreover created the label of "companies with a mission". "Companies must be encouraged to show responsibility in this area. That's what CSR - (Corporate Social Responsibility) - is all about," explains Hervé Gastinel. Extremely attentive to advances in the nautical sector, he says: "The management of end-of-life boats must be anticipated from the outset, i.e. at the design stage, in order to integrate recycling issues. The end-of-life of boats (with highly emissive manufacturing processes) and their reprocessing is a subject on which the profession can and must make rapid progress. We were pioneers in this field at Beneteau with the FIN (French Nautical Industries Federation) and created the APER (Association pour la Plaisance Eco-Responsable), a French industry for the deconstruction of pleasure boats that sorts waste and manages it at the end of its life. Too often we see suction cup boats, left in landfills in ports and harbors, polluting our environment. A few thousand boats have been deconstructed in this way. The European Commission is taking a close interest in this issue. All of this is changing". The questioning of the nautical sector must be almost total, in terms of life cycle analysis (design, manufacturing process, use, management of the end of life of boats, etc.). A major adventure is starting up for the world of yachting.
The word of hope of tomorrow is FinX.
Humanity is becoming aware that the surface of the Moon (including its hidden side) and Mars have been better mapped than the seabed. According to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), less than 10% of the relief of the seabed has been studied beyond 200 m depth. Indeed, at a depth of 150 m, 99% of the light is absorbed, and below 1000m, it is a dark night. The average temperature barely exceeds 0°C and the pressure is more than 100 times that of the surface. The seabed is therefore more difficult to access than space.
While the Ocean has been suffering from major anthropic pollution for decades, little considered because it is less visible, projects are budding, multiplying and the concept of blue economy is democratizing. Humanity is beginning to conceive that without a healthy Ocean, it is no more.