Accueil Développement durableThe commitment of the Paul Ricard oceanography Institute

The commitment of the Paul Ricard oceanography Institute

Sustainable development in the Mediterranean implies maintaining and promoting knowledge about the sea. The Institute contributes to meeting this challenge.

Since its foundation, the Institute has been committed to a policy of providing information and extending awareness, going back to a time when the word ecology, which referred to a science and not to an ideology or a position to adopt, was rarely heard.

In the 1960s, Paul Ricard, the founder of the Institute, and Dr. Alain Bombard wholeheartedly rejected the very idea of seeing the sea as a rubbish dump. At that time General Delegate of the Institute, Dr. Bombard, the ‘Shipwreck Volunteer’ joined the Paul Emile Victor group, the aim of which was to set up a unit to combat pollution and to facilitate the production of documents for the defence of man and his environment. He asked Professor Vicente to write the first study on ecological planning for the compatibility of marine usages, which was published by the Paul Ricard Oceanography Institute.

Since that time, the Institute has maintained its determined commitment to the defence of the sea by providing information, education and research. The idea of associating research with communication as two inseparable tools committed to the same project to promote ecology was an innovation. These actions targeted in priority schoolchildren, then the general public, with the introduction of cycles of lectures and the use of various information media.

The human impact on the littoral is complex and insidious, at once visible and invisible. Over the past decades, disturbing phenomena have been observed : urban sprawl invading the landscape under the pressure of frenetic property development, the cementing over of the coasts, the over-frequentation and destruction of sites of outstanding beauty, the pollution and the decline of freshwater resources, the piling up of non-biodegradable waste matter such as plastics.

Scientific studies have measured the impact on the environment of these new materials invented by man and not recycled by nature.

The French Institute for Research and the Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) and the university of Liège have estimated at 250 billion the quantity of plastic micro-waste elements floating in the waters of the Mediterranean. To avoid the continuing progression of this phenomenon and to improve the preservation of our environment, what is needed is to encourage changes in behaviour patterns by providing information and raising awareness.

-  In 1972, an original and innovative initiative by the Paul Ricard Oceanography Institute was launched with the introduction of Clean Up the Beach days, in partnership with teachers. This concept was developed over the years by associating other scientific or artistic disciplines, such as the operation Under the Beach, Ideas for My Planet (Sous la plage, des idées pour ma planète) in Marseille, organized by the musical association, La Lyrone.

-  Participation in offering training courses in marine biology and the impact of pollution for primary and secondary school teachers, in partnership with the Nice education authority. Support for teachers in training eco-delegates in secondary schools. Courses in sustainable development (E.D.D) are now a regular part of the school curriculum.

-  Outreach activities to extend awareness of the marine environment for youngsters and for the general public, in relation with various associations including Destination Planet Sea (Destination Planète Mer) : mini-cruises, workshops focused on the sea, study trips, forums, the release into the sea of turtles in collaboration with the organization |

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- Patricia Ricard, President of the Paul Ricard Oceanography Institute, was the patron of the 2nd Green Heads Trophy (Trophée des Têtes Vertes), a meeting to discover a site dedicated to primary school children and the support of teachers and their pupils for courses in sustainable development.
- Membership of Network Sea of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, underpinning our conviction that education is the best means to encourage individual behaviour that is respectful of the natural environment. |

-  Participation in numerous major events : the Grand Pavois de La Rochelle, the Paris Boat Show, the Marseille Boat Show, the World Underwater Images Festival, Science Frontiers (Science Frontières), the European Child Divers Meeting (JEPE) and its equivalent organized by the diving sports federation FFESSM, Sirenia, and so on.

- Large scale actions including participation in the IUCN World Congress at Barcelona, bringing together ‘ambassador ships’ under the name ‘Blue Armada’.
- Information campaigns on vulnerable or endangered species (sea urchin, grouper, seahorse, etc.) and development of projects on the reproduction of the fan mussel, Mediterranean ribbed limpet, seahorse, sea urchin, etc.

-  An initiative targeting students with the launch in 1992 of the bursary to fund water-related projects : Help the Water, Help Life (Aidons l’Eau, Aidons la Vie).
-  Participation in and support of several seminars and conferences for the publication of scientific results.
-  Launch of the journal Marine Life and of its website (in French) :

-  Signature of the first scientific contract on the theme of the valorization of coastal areas on the basis of a multidisciplinary approach (CNEXO Programme Ecotron).
-  Ground-breaking collaboration with industry in fundamental and applied research (Elf Aquitaine/ Total Group) for the study of the biodegradation of hydrocarbons in the sea.
-  First development of a regional research operation in experimental aquaculture, followed by a course in aquaculture : installation of aquaculture facilities and valorization of sea products ; expert consultancy services for aquaculture managers.

- Innovation in research in partnership with private companies : the Green Dyke (Digue Verte) project and freshwater captation from an underwater spring.

Through the diversity and complementary nature of these actions and activities, the Paul Ricard Oceanography Institute has become a key player and interlocutor in the discovery and protection of the marine environment.

Today, growing environmental awareness and the ecological challenges are a spur to ever greater vigilance and effort.

À consulter

Mediterranean in Danger expedition :
- La Lyrone musical association :
Destination Planet Sea (Destination Planète Mer) :
- Centre for the Study and Protection of Mediterranean Marine Turtles :
Green Heads (Têtes Vertes) Trophy :
- Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region Network Sea :
- The scientific journal Marine Life :