Public Release: 

Ocean visions: Leading institutions gather to cultivate scalable, science-driven solutions

Georgia Aquarium

ATLANTA, March 29, 2019 - Leading ocean science and engineering institutions are joining forces to create Ocean Visions, an innovative scientist-driven ocean conservation venture that fosters collaboration between top researchers, conservationists and entrepreneurs committed to solving some of the biggest challenges facing ocean health.

The endeavor's first summit - OceanVisions2019 - Climate - will be held April 1-4 at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta. The summit will highlight ocean-based science and engineering successes that promote solutions addressing human, climate and ecological pressures.

Ocean Visions represents the nation's leading organizations in ocean science and engineering - Georgia Tech, The Smithsonian Institution, Stanford University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography University of Georgia, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, The Georgia Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Birch Aquarium at Scripps - coming together under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on scientifically sound, scalable, impactful and viable ocean conservation solutions.

The ocean covers 70 percent of the Earth and provides food and jobs valued at $2.5 trillion dollars each year - making the ocean the seventh largest economy in the world. Unfortunately, ocean health has been declining as a result of climate change, overfishing and pollution. Climate change is making our ocean warmer and more acidic, threatening critical ocean ecosystems including corals, shellfish, and plankton. Thirty percent of the world's fisheries are overfished and nine million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. Fertilizer and sewage runoff are creating massive "dead zones" - waters with such low oxygen levels that fish can't survive. Coastal dead zones have increased tenfold since 1950. Finding solutions to these pressing challenges is more urgent than ever.

"The ocean is our past and our future. Healthy people, healthy communities and healthy economies depend directly on a healthy ocean," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., recipient of the OceanVisions2019 Tethys Award, past head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and environmental scientist and distinguished professor at Oregon State University. "Ocean Visions is a pioneering endeavor that is committed to delivering comprehensive, science-led solutions to the ocean's many challenges - solutions that are scalable at a global level. That has never been done before."

A champion of science, Lubchenco is the first recipient of the Tethys Award, which was named for the Greek goddess of water and created to honor role models who contributed to, promoted, enabled or raised awareness about ocean solutions and who inspire new generations of ocean experts and leaders. Lubchenco will deliver the Tethys Award lecture during the summit's opening ceremony live streaming on April 1.

To nurture and work towards these solutions, Ocean Visions will:

  • create a network that will bring together non-profits, industry and other private and public groups to focus on translational research;

  • host regular summits to highlight the latest research and scalable concepts to address ocean conservation needs;

  • launch a fellows program to foster an integrated community of scientists, engineers, policy makers, stakeholders and other groups who can exchange knowledge and experiences; and

  • sponsor startup competitions in the heart of academic institutions to engage young talent.

"Addressing the challenges facing our oceans will take an ambitious effort that brings together the best talent in our nation," said G. Wayne Clough, Ph.D., secretary emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution, who will open the summit. "Ocean Visions is unique because it is led by trusted institutions and top scientists and researchers in ocean conservation working together to formulate a call to action to foster, support and advance innovative and viable solutions that can make a difference."

The summit will provide networking events for business leaders to learn more about proposed solutions, ranging from advanced concepts to those that are market ready, such as marine algae-based animal feeds and biofuels that can reduce the carbon footprint of biofuel and protein production and sea-level sensor technologies for coastal cities and communities threatened by rising sea levels.

"Ocean Visions provides much-needed optimism for the future of our oceans," said Emanuele Di Lorenzo, Ph.D., director of the Ocean Science & Engineering program at the Georgia institute of Technology. "It establishes a playground for innovative solutions by bringing together the leading minds in ocean conservation who are dedicated to sharing experiences as well as brainstorming and supporting better solutions."

Georgia Tech is hosting the April 1-4 OceanVisions2019 summit. Learn more about the OceanVisions2019 program.

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About Ocean Visions

Ocean Visions was founded by leading ocean research and conservation organizations to address the growing need to coordinate and integrate science and engineering and generate a knowledge base that enables ocean solutions. Ocean Visions consists of the leading organizations in ocean conservation: Georgia Institute of Technology, The Smithsonian Institution, Stanford University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography University of Georgia, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, The Georgia Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Visit http://www.oceanvisions.org/.

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