Environment

Norway’s Richest Man Sets Up Major Ocean Research Project

Kjell Inge Rokke’s new initiative has hinted at plans to live-stream from the depths of the ocean.

07.06.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash
Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash

They say it takes a village to raise a child. In that case, it’ll take a world to heal the oceans: more than 85% has been dirtied and damaged by humanity, whether through industrial over-fishing, luxury travel, or oil and plastic pollution.

Norway’s richest man, Kjell Inge Rokke, who made his reported $2.4bn fortune through fishing and offshore oil drilling, has thrown his hat into the ring. As part of his philanthropic commitment to the Giving Pledge, Rokke has set up REV Ocean, a three-pronged ocean research project.

This will see the creation of a luxury research vessel, fit for 60 scientists and 30 crew members. It will come replete with forward sonar, multiple laboratories, media editing, and a fleet of both manned and unmanned submersibles. In certain configurations, the ship will also have space for 36 guests — with the implication that income from chartered activity would be used to help fund the ship’s research operations.

Lawrence Hislop, the organisation’s Communications Manager, told Forbes that rather than catching fish and hauling them onto the deck, the ship will use a sustainable trawling system that scans fish as they swim through a net. The team is also considering using live streaming technology on the underwater vessels to see exactly what is happening “3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 metres below the ocean”.

REV Ocean has also set out plans to build the ‘World Ocean Headquarters’, bringing together NGOs, educational institutions and marine organisations together with UNESCO, UN Environment and the World Wildlife Fund for a “global ocean solution centre”. In addition, REV Ocean is launching an Ocean Data Platform, which will pull together disparate marine data initiatives for the public, policymakers and businesses.

On top of this, REV Ocean recently announced the creation of Plastic REVolution Foundation, which aims to find the best ways of supporting plastic waste disposal in Ghana. It will be led by Erik Solheim — the former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, who left in late 2018 amid an expenses and emissions row — and will look at the potential for ‘pyrolysis technology’ to convert plastic into a fuel that can be re-burnt.

The company has firmly denied that the Ghanian plastic initiative is connected to Rokke’s other interests: the businessman is the main shareholder of shipping and offshore drilling conglomerate Aker, which is working to open an oilfield project in Ghana.

Tags: ocean, waste

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