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Yohei Sasakawa
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The Nippon Foundation Team Congratulated by Prime Minister Abe on Winning World Deep-sea Technology Competition [2019/09/27]


A group photo of the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team, winner of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, taken at The Nippon Foundation on September 19, 2019.

I accompanied the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team to pay a courtesy call on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his official residence on September 18 to report on the team’s winning of the international competition in deep-sea exploration technology, called the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.

As I introduced each member of the group to the Japanese leader, Mr. Abe congratulated us on winning the $4 million award.

Mr. Abe said he had wanted to go to the seafloor eversince he read as a child Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. It is crucial to explore the topography of the seabed if we are to make the most effective use of marine resources, the prime minister said, expressing his hope that we will make tangible progress to achieve our final goal of mapping the entirety of the world’s ocean floor by 2030.

The team, made up of 15 international graduates from 13 countries of The Nippon Foundation/GEBCO Postgraduate Training Program at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), spoke with Prime Minister Abe about the technology that they developed and how their model of international scientific cooperation can help to map the gaps that still remain in our understanding of the ocean floor.

They demonstrated their winning concept to Mr. Abe with scale replicas of the vessels that they used, as well as 3D visualizations of the data that they collected during the competition, and gave him a copy of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) 2019 – the most recent version of the map of the world’s seabed.

Also joining us at our meeting with the prime minister was Team KUROSHIO, a Japanese team that placed second in the competition.

It is my sincere hope that the meeting will further strengthen the cooperation between the ocean mappers involved with GEBCO, scientists from Team KUROSHIO and Japanese officials as global efforts continue to map the ocean floor.

As Prime Minister Abe noted, understanding the bathymetry of the world’s oceans is imperative for improving maritime navigation, and also for enhancing our ability to predict climate change and monitor marine biodiversity and resources.  A comprehensive map of the seafloor will assist global efforts to combat pollution, aid marine conservation, forecast tsunami, and better understand tides, wave action and sediment transport.

Working with all the stakeholders of the international ocean community, we are determined to do everything we can to achieve the goal of mapping the entire seabed by the end of the next decade.

I asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to feel the weight (12 kilograms!)
of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE trophy during our meeting on September 18, 2019.

With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center) athis official residence in Tokyo on September 18, 2019.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)