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  • Ocean Science, education and public-private partnership are at the heart of the MSC Foundation’s engagement in coral conservation and restoration

Geneva, Switzerland March 20, 2024 – The MSC Foundation teamed up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature at the annual Monaco Ocean Week on March 19 to co-host a multi-stakeholder discussion on realizing the potential of philanthropy for ocean conservation, alongside the Velux Foundation and Filantropia Cortes Solari.

The panel—focused on addressing local challenges of national significance—opened with remarks from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, after which the MSC Foundation laid out its commitment to coral reef restoration and conservation in The Bahamas under its Super Coral Program. Executive Director Daniela Picco emphasized the program’s long-term investment in science and research along with the value of its institutional, academic and MSC Group partners. She also detailed the establishment of a nursery for critically endangered elkhorn coral, which saw a 100% survival rate among coral specimens after the summer 2023 marine heat wave in The Bahamas. Pico said the promising signs of thermal resilience provide hope for coral reefs in the region.

As a relatively young foundation that embodies the seafaring history and experience of the MSC Group and the founding family’s outlook on future generations, it’s critical to be active in these global discussions between local and international experts, the scientific community, public authorities, associations and the private sector in the spirit of exchange, experimenting and openness,” said Daniela Picco, Executive Director of the MSC Foundation. “The Foundation joined forces with IUCN a year ago and is supporting the 100 scientists from 30 countries involved in the rigorous scientific analysis of over 850 coral species worldwide needed to update the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. We have a dedicated program in the Bahamas for impact at the national level.”

The Foundation’s Super Coral Program began in 2019 with a mission to restore the coral reefs surrounding Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, in collaboration with the Bahamian government, leading universities, marine scientists, and conservationists. Ocean Cay opened to guests of MSC Cruises that year following an extensive rehabilitation. The cruise line’s restoration of the island’s ecosystems involved removing 7,500 tons of scrap metal, planting nearly 5,000 trees and 75,000 indigenous plants, flowers, and shrubs, and a rapid environmental assessment of Ocean Cay’s coral reefs.

“I have witnessed first-hand, and been a part of, the transformation of Ocean Cay from an industrial wasteland to an island thriving with life. MSC Cruises’ environmental vision and commitment to meeting standards for the restoration of the island are unparalleled in the region,” said Dr Owen O’Shea, MSC Foundation’s Marine Program & Research Manager. “Implemented on the ground since 2022, our Super Coral Program is committed to future generations of Bahamians and marine scientists around Ocean Cay. Its designation by Mission Blue and Dr Sylvia Earle as a “Hope Spot” in December 2022, among over 150 other places scientifically recognized as critical to the health of the ocean, is a significant achievement.”

Our oceans provide much of the food humanity needs, 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe, and regulate our weather and the planet’s response to climate change. The most diverse marine ecosystems are coral reefs, which support at least 25 percent of all species found in our oceans.

“We are delighted that we have identified high thermal resilience in some genetic populations of corals, developed techniques to grow corals in open water nurseries and started to trial methods to outplant these corals in the environment,” said David Smith, PhD, Professor of Marine Biology, University of Essex (UK) and Chief Scientific Advisor on the MSC Foundation’s Advisory Board.



The non-profit MSC Foundation implements the MSC Group’s marine conservation, humanitarian, and sustainable development commitments worldwide, utilizing MSC’s global reach and unique knowledge of the sea to protect and nurture our blue planet, its people, and our shared cultural heritage.

Concentrating on four areas – Environment, Community Support, Education and Emergency Relief – the Foundation promotes the protection and sustainable management of ecosystems, empowers vulnerable communities around the world to realize their full potential, supports equitable and inclusive quality education to foster enduring individual and collective development, and helps disaster-struck populations toward recovery.

The Foundation works to achieve this both independently and with dedicated partners: independently, by leveraging MSC Group engagement in designing and managing projects, connecting communities, raising awareness, and mobilizing the financial support of thousands of people, and together with trusted partners selected for their strong innovative vision or track record for effective action.'Shea Marine

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