The French Agency for Marine Protected Areas (AAMP1) provides scientific, administrative and technical support to MPAs’ managers, to contribute to the fulfilment of France’s international commitments in favour of marine and coastal biodiversity.
In January 2017, the AAMP became the French Biodiversity Agency. The French Biodiversity Agency (Agence Française pour la Biodiversité) is a public organization under the supervision of the Ministry of the Environment established for the purpose of supporting public policies implementation in order to improve the knowledge, to protect, to manage and to restore, terrestrial, aquatic and marine biodiversity.
To help MPAs’ managers to operate relevant equipment for observing and monitoring their areas, the AAMP decided in 2009 to organise demonstrations of high-priority systems, in partnership with 2 sea innovation clusters, Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique (PMBA) and Pôle Mer Méditerranée (PMM). Under the supervision of the 2 Pôles Mer, the conduct of the project was granted to a consulting agency, in charge of collecting MPAs’ needs, identifying possible solutions, selecting SMEs, preparing and organising demonstrations at sea.
Technology for the service of Environment
The first phase of the project started in 2010 and consisted in identifying and making an inventory of MPAs’ needs to better manage their areas. MPAs expressed a need for a better knowledge of the seabed (depth, seabed status, habitats mapping, including fauna and flora), of the water column (water quality, hydrography, sea life) and of the water surface (marine and coastal environment, weather forecasting, monitoring and CCTV). They also stated a need for support equipment (boats, surface and sub-surface positioning systems, submarine communication systems) and for data collection and management systems.
The second phase aimed at identifying existing and under development solutions which could meet the MPAs’ requirements. 173 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were selected among members of Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique and Pôle Mer Méditerranée and were invited to propose relevant equipment and services. Among the 173 SMEs approached, 47 responded and suggested more than 193 proposals, divided between off-the-shelf solutions, prototypes and projects. The various solutions were categorized by deployment location (seabed, water column, surface and sub-surface) and by technology (acoustics, underwater imaging, airborne monitoring, data management and transmission). Finally, they were ranked in each category according to their readiness level and adequacy to MPAs’ needs.
In the third phase, 4 types of demonstrations were decided, according to MPAs’ priorities:
- • seabed mapping;
- • noise recording;
- • sea life monitoring;
- • surface monitoring.