Safeguarding the Ocean – Fabienne Jacq

In the fifth of our series of All-Atlantic Conversations, Joanne Sweeney interviews Fabienne Jacq, Policy Officer in the European Commission.


What is your role in the All-Atlantic collaboration?

I am a policy officer in the European Commission and am working on the Copernicus Program in the director of general in charge of space defense and street, but I’m working very, very closely with all my colleagues for ocean matters. Will it be in, in a DG RTD or in Monterey, or we are all working together when it comes to ocean, we are a very good team in fact, at the commission. So that’s why I was invited to attend this event and to discuss what we can do for the All-Atlantic elegance.

The all Atlantic challenge presents us with some amazing opportunities. What are those opportunities and what can we do right now to safeguard the ocean and to explore it at a greater depth?

I will say, if we want to safeguard the oceans or to achieve something else is sustainable. I think what is key is really to us, something which has had an ocean, which is healthy because this is opportunity and our heritage as humans, I would say, yeah, the planet is blue and make it sustainable because we live from it. So this is really the key two points. So first of all, to be assay and to do anything around ocean, we need to know about the ocean. So I think knowledge is key. The knowledge is, is data, but this is also a lot of science and specialist working with this data to understand what is going on, observing and predicting and simulating what, what we could do. So science is first. It’s not first it’s, it’s major, but it’s all, it’s a holistic view that we need to have on the ocean.

So before the talk from science, I think we, we need also as commission and us all participants in this story, in this adventure, we need also to, to have a political action and to, and to, to, to act, regulate, and to, to regulate and protect our oceans. Meaning creating regulation. Regulation is not only low. It’s not only constraints. It’s also the way to protect. And this is something that we have to work on to create regulation that protects our ocean, but not only at coast, but also in the open ocean because the ocean is, is, is something moving all the time. This is completely shared. We have areas which are completely free beyond national jurisdiction. And I think this is very important that we regulate as well these areas to protect our vital varsity to the phone are better share our resources and, and in kind of regulation as well.

We have a lot already, but this is important. I think to have something which has made intelligence so that the economy can survive, but the ocean is also protected. And so that we better share our resources and, and taking into account that we know we need to know the evolution of what is going on in the ocean. It’s behavior, it’s ecosystem and so on. And then for this, and for regulation in, in practice to the EU is really committed to the international of governance. This is major for us because again, it’s, I think our heritage that we need to protect our planet, and it’s not only philosophy. It’s a reality. Then I’m going back to science. In fact, our policy makers and decision makers, they need science. They need to know. And the ocean is something which is not well, not enough understood, I think, or uh, or underestimated.

We are, we are investing a lot on, on the moon and Mars, but the planet is blue again. So on the science part, if I would tackle some specific topics, a lot is done operation of exists, that’s fine. It’s not enough recognized because we say science to policy but in between we have ocean services, operational scintigraphy, which is important from a scientific perspective. I’m not the specialist, but for me, there is at least two points that are really critical to now is to tackle the carbon issue in the ocean because carbon sink and CO2 emissions, it’s not only about forest, 25 per cent is, is, is addressed by the ocean. So I think what is all blue carbon should be re-emphasized because it’s really, it has an important role as carbon sink. So it’s a solution, but it creates also a dangerous for the ocean acidification and so on.

And the other point that we need to foster on, I think is biodiversity and all, what is Marine ecosystem modeling? We did the physics very well. I think the bio gave chemistry is well understood. Now, even we have a lot to do see in terms of pollutants resolution and so on, or what is about life ecosystem. I think we have to work on it still. And this is a very, very complex because there is a lot of interactions with anthropogenic activities as well.

So for me, that’s the action, which are important. I don’t know if it answers, but there is plenty of things to do also in terms of socializing, education, sharing a lot sharing data and sharing software and models. And so we have to do it. The digital world is coming. It’s, it’s a brand new opportunity to do it. We will have everything to do with, so now we have to do it because we have to progress, but I’m really convinced that we will do that. And that’s where the All-Atlantic audience, is, is, is great because it’s, it’s the, it’s the goal to share and to share beyond the EU member States and, and, and the continued scape. So that’s, that’s really great.

And of course you talk about the planet being blue. So it’s a universal ocean, and it’s a shared ocean and reaching the hand across the ocean from North to South. Would you say that that has been a game changer in terms of European policy, but also in terms of action being taken? Is that going to make waves in terms of protecting the ocean?

I think so, because what is interesting is that I think the oceanographers, they worked together already since 20, 30 years. Yeah. It’s not new. We have very good programs which organize internationally, like goo around goos and with the BCP, with Argo, with AIBP in the Arctic and plenty of things. We are the original ooze in, in, in goose. So we are organized. So it’s already there. What is interesting with the All-Atlantic Alliance is that again, it’s a political recognition that we have to do it. So it’s more than scientists working together. It’s scientists working together but for something and, and it, it, it, what is interesting is that with this Alliance, we take on board the States, the countries. In fact, when we are meeting people, I had a meeting with, with Africa organized by RTD. What was interesting is that around the table, it was not a scientist, but it was the, the, the scientific advisor to ministers.

It was ministers. And so it means that the political dimension is close to the science dimension. So that’s where it’s, it’s really good in fact. So yes, I think it works. It works because it enabled, helps us to organize such meeting, to discuss about the big investment that we have to do together in terms of science and ocean observation. But this is also a place where we can discuss the application of the science to create applications, to better manage our costs, better manager our MPA’s, marine protected areas, and so on and so forth, or our fisheries. And so it’s, it’s beyond science, it’s also sharing best practices. And that’s where it’s interesting and it works.

You mentioned the role of education and that leads me to the point around ocean literacy and also engaging with citizens who are a very important stakeholders. Do you think that we as citizens we have a better appreciation for what’s happening in the ocean and that we all need to take personal responsibility? Do you think that message as has gotten out?

Yes, I think so, because we did a lot. I look at it at my own scale. I’m French, okay. But I see oceans reports or news at the TV or special, special shows around climate and ocean. So it means that it works. And also what was important and efficient is that the threat of plastics or the ocean is something that is really well understood. And I think the, the young people, and even less younger, 30, 40 years, they clearly understand that what they put in the bin, goes to the ocean and, and that’s, it’s a good vector for education. Then I think they don’t understand all the threats because plastic is not the only threat. And if you talk about unification or a certification, they may not understand. And maybe farmers don’t realize yet really the impact of what they do on land in the oceans. But I think yes the socialization and, and information is, is, is progressing a lot. And, and we can see with all the international statement on the ocean now, so it works and then we have to train our next generation. It starts at school.

Looking ahead to the all Atlantic 2021 conference, connecting, acting, and cooperating, what are your hopes for, for that event it’s happening over three days? What is your, your big ambition? What do you hope to get out of it?

So, I’m, I said it already. I think, first of all, what would be interesting is really to, to reach a consensus on the big scientific challenges that we have to tackle. So for me, especially in the Atlantic, there is one point which is really important in the Atlantic is the ocean circulation is changing. A lot is going on in the Atlantic because of the connection with Arctic and bloop and, and so on. And so the climate change dimension and the impact of climate change, and how it, we change in the Atlantic is really critical because there is a lot of population around, it will change completely the weather. And so we need to know because it will have an impact. And this is the link, the, the, the, the, also the link with the other topic. I think the other topic is maybe to work on extreme events in the Atlantic.

And there the, the, the level of occurrence their impact because it would affect a lot of costs and population again. So for me, this is the second topic, which is really relevant for the Atlantic. I don’t say it’s not in the Indian ocean or in the Pacific, but at least for us, me, and this is linked also to the ocean circulation and climate change. And then there is the, the point on biodiversity again. Why? Because we have big migrations of, of protected areas, a protected species, and also a big tuna and things like that in the Atlantic, North, South North, and also West East. And again, it’s important to know how we tackle a sustainable management of Marine resources, for example, to do that.

So that’s, I would say that the three big topics I see in terms of science. Then going beyond, because for me, it goes beyond because it’s the link between science and policy. I think it’s, I’m, I’m advocating all the time everywhere that we must transition the results of science into operational ocean services, which are sustained available for everyone, so that the people at national scale and local scale can be prepared. Because, and prepared in terms of coastal floods, but in terms of long-term resilience also, or to climate change and to, to support maritime spacial planning, to support land planning in some cases. So we really need to have operational ocean services everywhere. And not only science because it’s, it’s like mythology, it’s like weather services. And so it’s obvious for a small Island, but this is true also for us. I am, I was looking to sea level rise some time ago for our vice-president.

And I was looking at the statistics and they say that in 50 years, we may have London flooded, London flooded. So it means something. It’s not only the others it’s everywhere. So there was also a scientific paper saying that Ribe, which is the, this is a very small town in Denmark, but this is the, the, the first place of the Vikings. It will be flooded. It will disappear. So that’s, that’s why it’s really critical. And then, yeah, I’m talking about cultural heritage and economy. So we have to realize this. That’s why it’s really important that now policymakers and science are working together and taking care of that, the scientists do the job, searching, searching, and finding solution and that we transition that into something sustained and operational services, ocean services.

That, that’s really, for me, something that we have to discuss in All-Atlantic. And especially because this, this has to be done, basin to basin because the physics is different from basin to basin. So it’s logic to do that. Then I think there is one point, which is important for, again, the work to be done is how to better share data, how to improve ocean observation, support co-creation with digital tools. It will be available. I think it will help us a lot. And I think everyone’s convinced of that. So it’s not a big deal and, and sharing. It’s sharing North South, South North, with our Brazilian colleagues, with Africa, Canada, everywhere.

This conference is going to have the who’s who of the Marine science world, almost like the Oscars of ocean science. If people are watching this and they haven’t registered already, what would you say to them? Why should they take a day or two days out of their working year to come listen, contribute, and engage at All-Atlantic 2021?

I think they could listen to it because even if they are not oceanographers, they may need the information in order to make their own little job. I’m talking people working for example, in inland planning. They may need information from oceans. They need ocean information. People working in energy renewables. They want to make energy siting and so on, they need information from us and they have to realize that this is complex, but this is available and a lot can be done together. And especially because they will have to link their own science with the ocean science. In fact, it’s not separated, it’s coupled. And that’s why they should listen to it. And they should listen to it as well, because this is fascinating.

It is going to be fascinating. Even this conversation has been fascinating. So much information in such a short period of time. Thank you so much for joining us and on this interview and we look forward to seeing you at All-Atlantic 2021

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