Plankton, our food security guarantee

© C.Sardet/CNRS/Tara Oceans Polar Circle

Following our commitment on the issues of High Seas governance at the UN, Tara Expeditions was invited to participate in workshops about issues of food security related to marine biodiversity which took place between February 17-20 at the FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation) in Rome.

Beyond the aspects of governance and advocacy, Tara’s presence at the FAO highlighted the links not always visible between research on marine biodiversity, notably plankton, and food security issues. Even if planktonic organisms studied during the TARA OCEANS expedition (2009-2013) are not often on our plates, they are indeed the basis of the marine food chain. And yet we know so little about them!

Almost two years after the end of the expedition, the TARA OCEANS research program continues the analysis of some 35,000 samples collected throughout the world’s oceans — the largest database of plankton ever produced. These data will then be catalogued and correlated to provide new information to experts and decision makers of regional institutions and UN agencies. The goal is to better understand the loss of biodiversity and migration of species that threaten coastal populations dependent on fish and seafood to survive.

With climate change, pollution, over-fishing and increased economic activities at sea, life in the ocean is changing rapidly and we will not have time to understand the impacts on different marine organisms, especially the little studied microscopic ones. From the perspective of FAO experts, it is urgent to continue the basic research on plankton ecosystems that will give us scientific evidence to better predict the changes that ultimately impact the most vulnerable coastal communities, especially in Africa and Asia.

André Abreu, responsible for environment and climate at Tara Expeditions
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