Nereus was a god in ancient Greece, and was the protector of the seas and patron of fishermen. Nereus was a shapeshifter with the power of prophecy, known for his truthfulness and virtue. In this
capacity, this wise, old man
was chosen as the figurehead
for this program.
Over-exploitation of the world’s fish resources has caused serious decline in fish populations, and there is widespread concern that the world oceans will be unable to supply fish products for future generations. Given the importance of marine fisheries for food security throughout the world, this poses a serious threat for coming generations, and we must ask if there will be sufficient seafood for our children and grandchildren.
The Nereus Program was launched on December 6, 2010, to provide scientific advice on these very issues. It is an international research and outreach network, which once fully established will have five leading academic institutions as partners. It is focused on understanding the status of the global ocean and how we can ensure that there will continue to be seafood and a healthy ocean for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.
The program will have three main objectives, each considered of equal importance for the overall outcome of the program:
The Nereus program will be facilitated by recent significant advances in scientific capabilities integrating ecological, economic, social, and governance factors, and this now allows capable predictions also of how seafood production may change with changes in environmental conditions such as temperature, oxygen, and nutrient loading. The predictions can be made at the individual country level, but must build on global analysis as discussed earlier. They can consider challenges posed by consumer demand, international transport and trade, and global supply. Such information is crucial for formulating policies in response to these challenges, be they through mitigation of environmental impact or improved management.
The Nippon Foundation as well as UBC is committed to capacity building and international networking. Recognizing the very limited scientific capacity for understanding the future state and productivity of fish stocks, the Nereus program will educate a group of new fellows to be capable of working in comprehensive and interdisciplinary scientific projects to address the global problem of how the productivity of future fish stocks can be optimized. Solving the problems that the world fisheries are facing calls for interdisciplinary action, and the Nereus program is designed with this in mind. The proposed group of researchers includes hydrographers, environmental researchers, ecologists, fisheries scientists, spatial planners, economists, social scientists, and researchers specializing in management and governance.
To build such public support, we need credible and neutral scientific research as the foundation, and this scientific knowledge has to be communicated in a form that is widely accessible if it is to have any impact. Nereus will use three-dimensional (3D) gaming technology to visualize complex scientific analysis. Through this we can demonstrate in a visually stimulating 3D-world how the oceans used to look when teeming with life, how they look now, and how they may look in the future depending on our actions.