The Deep Sea Project: France to invest €25 million in seabed exploration

france deep sea

France’s government has announced the allocation of €25 million in funding for its Deep Sea Project, a multi-faceted research mission that seeks to “better understand the deep seabed, which plays a crucial role in climate stability and regulation”.  

France is positioning itself at the forefront of deep seabed exploration and research with a pioneering project: the Deep Sea Project or Grands Fonds Marins. 

Back in 2022, the government issued a call for companies from both the public and private sectors who were looking for funding to support their endeavours in deep sea exploration.  

After nearly two years of consideration, 11 companies have been selected for funding, which forms part of the France 2030 plans to invest €54 billion in new tech and industry. They are now set to share €25 million of public investment in a bid to “advance research and better protect these ecosystems”. 

The projects put forwards by the successful enterprises cover areas such as the development of innovative deep sea equipment – underwater drones, autonomous submersibles, robotic systems and sensors, for example – and the supporting software and data processing services. 

The overarching goal of the Deep Sea Project is to learn more about the deep sea environment as well as how it can be best protected through various mapping, monitoring and explorative missions.  

Read more: Monaco Explorations prepares for Greek Odyssey mission

Among the threats facing this ‘final frontier’ is deep sea mining.  

Speaking at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “We have to create the legal framework to stop high-sea mining and to prevent new activities from putting these ecosystems in danger. But at the same time, we need to promote our scientists and explorers, allowing them to better know the deep seas. We need to better understand in order to protect.” 

This stance was followed up by a ban on deep sea mining that was voted in by France’s Assemblée Nationale in early 2023.  

France is believed to have the largest deep-water Exclusive Economic Zone in the world. Including the marine zones of its overseas territories, more than 10 million square kilometres of the French seabed sits at a depth of below 1,000 metres. This equates to 93% of the total surface area of the French seabed.   

Read related:

Interview: Robert Calcagno, CEO Oceanographic Institute – Prince Albert I Foundation


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