MSC Foundation Co-Host at Annual Monaco Ocean Week

The MSC Foundation teamed up with IUCN a second time at the annual Monaco Ocean Week on 19 March to co-host, a multi-stakeholder discussion

The MSC Foundation teamed up with IUCN a second time at the annual Monaco Ocean Week on 19 March to co-host, with Velux Foundation and Filantropia Cortes Solari, a multi-stakeholder discussion on realising the potential of philanthropy for ocean conservation.

Following opening remarks by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco on the panel theme of addressing local challenges of national significance, the MSC Foundation laid out its commitments to coral reef restoration and conservation in The Bahamas under its Super Coral Programme.  Executive Director Daniela Picco emphasised the value of its institutional, academic and MSC Group partners and long-term investment in sound science and research studies to establish its nursery for critically endangered elkhorn coral. These coral fragments’ 100% survival rate after a marine heat wave in The Bahamas in the summer of 2023 is a promising sign of thermal resilience, providing hope for coral reefs in the region.

As a relatively young foundation that embodies the seafaring history and experience of the MSC Group and the founding family’s outlook on future generations, it’s critical to be active in these global discussions between local and international experts, the scientific community, public authorities, associations and the private sector in the spirit of exchange, experimenting and openness,” said Daniela Picco, Executive Director of the MSC Foundation“The Foundation joined forces with IUCN a year ago and is supporting the 100 scientists from 30 countries involved in the rigorous scientific analysis of over 850 coral species worldwide needed to update the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  We have a dedicated programme in the Bahamas for impact at the national level.”

The Foundation started the design phase of its Super Coral Programme to restore the coral reefs of the island of Ocean Cay in 2019, the same year that MSC Cruises completed its redevelopment for cruise guests. Collaboratively with the Bahamian government, leading universities, marine scientists, and conservationists, MSC Cruises’ restoration of the island’s ecosystems involved removing 7,500 tons of scrap metal and planting nearly 5,000 trees and 75,000 indigenous plants, flowers, and shrubs and a rapid environmental assessment of Ocean Cay’s coral reefs.

“I have witnessed first-hand, and been a part of, the transformation of Ocean Cay from an industrial wasteland to an island thriving with life. MSC Cruises’ environmental vision and commitment to meeting standards for the restoration of the island are unparalleled in the region,” said Dr Owen O’Shea, MSC Foundation’s Marine Programme & Research Manager.  “Implemented on the ground since 2022, our Super Coral Programme is committed to future generations of Bahamians and marine scientists around Ocean Cay.  Its designation by Mission Blue and Dr Sylvia Earle as a “Hope Spot” in December 2022, among over 150 other places scientifically recognised as critical to the health of the ocean, is a significant achievement.”

Our oceans provide much of the food humanity needs, 50% of the oxygen we breathe, and regulate our weather and the planet’s response to climate change. The most diverse marine ecosystems are coral reefs, which support at least 25% of all species found in our oceans. “We are delighted that we have identified high thermal resilience in some genetic populations of corals, developed techniques to grow corals in open water nurseries and started to trial methods to outplant these corals in the environment,” said David Smith, PhD, Professor of Marine Biology, University of Essex (UK) and Chief Scientific Advisor on the MSC Foundation’s Advisory Board.