MSC Cruises and MSC Foundation have announced an innovative partnership with NatureMetrics, the pioneering nature intelligence and environmental DNA specialists.
MSC Foundation is MSC Group’s philanthropic division.
The primary goal of this visionary project, named “eBioAtlas: Biodiversity Sampling from Cruise Liners using eDNA”, is to collect comprehensive biodiversity data for marine species using the innovative technique of DNA sampling.
By collecting eDNA from seawater whilst on-board, and sending it to NatureMetrics for analysis, the team will discover and record the marine wildlife present across their MSC cruise routes.
The project has global reach with the data contributing to the eBioAtlas, a global programme by NatureMetrics and IUCN. The eBioAtlas unlocks the vast reach of the global community, now including MSC Cruises and MSC Foundation, to come together andprovide a new, harmonised biodiversity data layer that will drive informed decision-making for the benefit of both people and nature.
Recognising the urgent need for improved data to mitigate biodiversity loss and accelerate progress towards a nature-positive future, eBioAtlas will help move the needle for global priorities such as climate mitigation, adaptation and food security. Through close collaboration with local stakeholders, marine non-governmental organisations (NGOs), national governments and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, this initiative will enable up-to-date marine species assessments and reassessments in the North Atlantic.
Dr Kat Bruce, NatureMetrics founder, said: “Collaboration is crucial in our quest to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by the end of the decade. MSC’s pioneering work to collect and share biodiversity data with our eBioAtlas programme will unlock nature insights that allow us to make informed decisions on marine conservation globally. The time for decisive action is now, and with organisations like MSC leading the way in the travel industry, we can create a world where businesses and nature can make meaningful progress in harmony.”
The eBioAtlas programme will acquire biodiversity data from three different MSC Cruises itineraries, providing accurate information for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This valuable data will be made accessible to third parties free of charge through the eBioAtlas partnership between NatureMetrics and IUCN, fostering conservation and restoration efforts throughout the Northern Atlantic.
Daniela Picco, executive director of the MSC Foundation, said: “The MSC Foundation is committed to advancing ocean conservation through science. It was therefore only natural for us to join forces with NatureMetrics to support vital biodiversity mapping, assisting the International Union for Conservation of Nature to perform the assessments that are critical indicators of global biodiversity health”.
Seawater samples will be collected from the vessels’ seawater intakes using specially designed eDNA collection kits. These samples will then be sealed and sent to NatureMetrics for DNA analysis. The results, along with location details, will be shared with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to enhance their understanding of global ocean biodiversity.