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MOL to Participate in Industry-Academia-Government Collaborative Marine Biodiversity Big Data Project ‘Ocean180’

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. yesterday announced its intent to participate in the industry-academia-government collaborative project to conserve marine biodiversity called “Ocean180,” (Note 1) led by Professor Yasuhiro Kubota (Note 2) of the Biology Program, Marine and Natural Science Dept. in the Faculty of Science at the University of the Ryukyus (President: Mutsumi Nishida; Headquarters: Nishihara-cho, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa Prefecture).

This is a long-term project to protect marine biodiversity which will visualize ocean ecosystems based on big data related to marine life, statistical modeling, and artificial intelligence (AI) in cooperation with research institutes such as universities, citizens, government agencies, companies, and financial institutions. The name “Ocean180” reflects the wish for a reversal of deteriorating conditions in the world’s oceans and a move toward improvement. The project will promote effective actions to conserve and regenerate the oceans based on big data analysis of biodiversity.

MOL will provide ship operation data (Note 3), and so on, cooperating in the development of technology to visualize the impact of shipping on ecosystems, integrating marine life data and ocean shipping data. It will also help promote practical application of the project and study the feasibility of commercializing and broadening the use of various expertise and technologies stemming from the project, by making use of information and knowledge gained from the project in MOL-backed initiatives to protect marine biodiversity.

In June 2021, the MOL Group established the “MOL Group Environmental Vision 2.1” (Note 4) with the aim of achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The group works to preserve marine environments and protect biodiversity through these contributions to the sustainable development of our society and the preservation of nature. In the company’s words, “From the blue oceans, we sustain people’s lives and ensure a prosperous future.” (Fig.1)

(Note 1) Marine Biodiversity Big Data project “Ocean180”

A long-term industry-academia-government collaborative project backed by the several institutions under the leadership of Professor Yasuhiro Kubota, with the aim of developing underlying technology to generalize big data on marine biodiversity and develop applied technology for “Life Below Water.” Currently, the related organizations are initiating various research efforts, but plans are underway to bring other parties into the project in the future.

The project aims at the following main goals.

  • Goal (1) Develop big data on marine biodiversity that everyone can use. Develop a tool to integrate data by standardizing, enhancing, and refining various information related to marine life. Then map indicator values for diversity and conservation/utilization of genes, species, biotic communities, and ecosystems by making full use of machine learning (AI, etc.) to offer an information base available to government agencies, companies, and other organizations involved with the oceans.
  • Goal (2) Technology development related to adaptable, sustainable conservation/utilization of the oceans. Quantitively project space-time patterns of biodiversity on global/Japan-wide scale, make spatial arrangements in marine protected areas in consideration of environmental changes, and make impact assessments of marine biodiversity and ecosystem services related to global warming, coastal development, and the fishing and shipping industries.
  • Goal (3) Promote practical application in society in cooperation with various industries. Cooperate with citizens, administrations, companies, and financial institutions. For example, establish the GIGA education project through the application of marine life visualization, establish ocean shipping operation models in consideration of the impact on marine ecosystems, and establish a real-time evaluation monitoring system related to the impact on the life below water.

(Note 2) Professor Yasuhiro Kubota

Prof. Kubota generates big data on biodiversity based on the results of natural history research and visualizes the distribution of species throughout Japan. He established Think Nature, Inc., a venture capital firm in which researchers in Japan and overseas play a leading role in the establishment and practical application of Japan Biodiversity Mapping Project (J-BMP) (https://biodiversity-map.thinknature-japan.com/en/)/ He supports Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-related projects by government agencies and private companies, for example, by creating preservation plans based on biodiversity big data through the project. He earned his doctorate at the Graduate School of Science, Tokyo Metropolitan University (Faculty of Science). He became an Associate Professor in the Biology Program, Marine and Nature Science Dept., Faculty of Science, University of the Ryukyus in 2007, and professor in 2015.

(Note 3) Ship operation data

MOL currently engages in the “FOCUS Project” ** intended to enhance the safe operation of its operated vessels and further reduce their environmental impact by gathering and applying big data related to navigation and engines. By analyzing the data collected by more than 10,000 sensing items from vessels, engines, cargoes, sea weather, and so on at a high frequency (one-minute intervals), MOL has been developing various applications that help enhance vessel safety, improve operational efficiency, and protect the marine environment.
** Launching of the “FOCUS” Project – Collaborative Innovation Transcending Business Categories; ICT-based, Data-driven Project Aims at Safer Operation and Cleaner Environment –

(Note 4) “MOL Group Environmental Vision 2.1”

Source: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines

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