My Deep Sea, My Backyard: Building Deep Sea Capacity in Big Ocean Developing States

Katherine Lynn Croff Bell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Media Lab, Cambridge, MA, United States, Randi Rotjan, Boston University, Boston, MA, United States, Diva Amon, Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom, Brian Kennedy, Boston University, Boston, United States, Brennan Phillips, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI, United States and Alan Turchik, National Geographic Society, Exploration Technology Lab, Washington, DC, United States
The majority of coastal nations have deep-sea environments within their maritime Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), yet less than 20% have the technical capabilities and scientific expertise to explore them. Economically developing coastal countries, therefore, have restricted access to their deep oceans, which can occupy substantial parts of their EEZs. This dearth of technological capability and scientific knowledge results in a lack of exploration and science, inappropriate or inadequate management decisions, and citizenry unaware of the natural importance of the deep sea, as well as potential access and utilization of their Blue Economy resources.

To address this lack of capacity, equity, and knowledge, the My Deep Sea, My Backyard project aims to empower countries around the world to explore their own deep-sea backyards using low-cost, low-logistics technologies, while building lasting in-country capacity and expertise. A pilot project was launched in Trinidad and Tobago (Atlantic) and Kiribati (Pacific) in 2018-2019. Activities included training workshops, expeditions, and outreach events aimed to enable access to emerging deep-ocean technology that can be used from any platform; and train new scientists, students, and communicators to enable use and dissemination of findings to all stakeholder groups. This project contributes to UN SDG14 goals of enhanced capacity building and technology transfer, and offers insights into the operationalization of SDG14 goals in the field.

We will present lessons learned from this pilot project, which includes technology development and training to inform capacity-building projects in developing countries around the world, as well as underserved and remote communities in the U.S., including protectorates/territories in the Caribbean and Pacific.