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Ocean Census Officially Endorsed as UN Ocean Decade Programme

Recognition cements Ocean Census’ large-scale strategic science mission to transform our knowledge of life on earth.

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The Nippon Foundation-Nekton Ocean Census – a global alliance dedicated to the discovery and protection of marine life – is proud to announce its official endorsement as a UN Ocean Decade Programme.

Vision 2030 of the UN Ocean Decade aims to strengthen momentum for ocean knowledge-based solutions, identifying gaps in scientific information and opportunities to enhance our collective impact.

“It’s estimated that 75-90% of the estimated 1-2 million marine species remain undiscovered. Ocean Census is a moonshot to discover ocean life, setting out to reach the next important milestone of 100,000 new species. If we can discover ocean life, we can help protect it. We have a race against time to discover new species before they are lost for future generations.”

Mr Mitsuyuki Unno, The Nippon Foundation

“The UN Ocean Decade’s mission to leverage “The science we need for the ocean we want” is wholly aligned to our purpose, which brings together international partners to take on the global challenge to accelerate the discovery of new marine species to help combat the biodiversity crisis.”

Professor Alex Rogers, Ocean Census Science Director 

Ocean Census has developed and deploys a new approach to taxonomy – cyber-taxonomy – to accelerate species discovery. Cyber-taxonomy harnesses revolutions in 3D imaging, DNA sequencing and machine learning to allow scientists to discover new life within days, rather than years.

Initiated in April 2023 by founding partners, The Nippon Foundation and Nekton, Ocean Census is an open, global network of partners uniting to take on the global challenge. The Alliance already combines scientists from over 250 institutes and 40 international partners, including university, museums, governments, business, civil society and philanthropy.

Partners include national marine institutes, JAMSTEC (Japan), NIWA (New Zealand), and IEO (Spain) alongside the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), and the Schmidt Ocean Institute.

Major expeditions to discover ocean life have already been undertaken by Ocean Census and partners, including to the Arctic, central and Eastern Pacific, Atlantic (Macaronesia – Canary Islands), and South Pacific, resulting in the discovery of hundreds of new species.

A critical aspect of Ocean Census is ensuring ocean life data is accessible for decision makers and scientists. Ocean Census is developing the Ocean Life Cyber-biodiversity System, a focus of discussion at upcoming Ocean Decade Satellite Event “Ocean Census: Discovering and Protecting Ocean Life” taking place at the upcoming 2024 conference in Barcelona, Spain.

On 12 April from 8:30 am to 9:45 am, delegates will hear from co-founders Mr Mitsuyuki Unno, The Nippon Foundation, Oliver Steeds, Nekton Chief Executive and Director of Ocean Census, and Alex Rogers, Science Director of Ocean Census. They will be joined by an expert panel of partners including Challenger 150; UNEP-WCMC; Schmidt Ocean Institute; and the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS).

Join the Ocean Census Alliance:

Ocean Census is an open network of partners with a shared purpose to discover and protect ocean life. Join the Alliance to play a role.

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