On 21 October, the marine research ship ‘Belgica‘ completed its voyage of 8,600 kilometres from Zeebrugge, Belgium to Odesa, Ukraine, to start its new mission of monitoring the environment in the Black Sea.
Ukrainian scientists will use it to monitor the environmental state of the Black Sea, adding new data on pollution, biodiversity, and the spread of antibiotic resistance in marine animals.
Belgium sent the vessel to Ukraine (the Ukrainian Research Centre for Marine Ecology) under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Belgian Federal Office of Science and Policy, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine, which was signed in July this year.
On its latest voyage the ship was operated by a Ukrainian crew, with Ukrainian and international scientists working on board. The researchers assessed the presence of floating debris, took samples of seawater and sediments for unique screening for tens of thousands of contaminants, micro-plastics, and dissolved DNA from the environment, to assess biodiversity and analyse the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in marine animals.
The relocation of the vessel, as well as the ship’s current mission, has been organised and funded by the EU, via the ‘European Union for Improving the Environmental Monitoring of the Black Sea’ project (EU4EMBLAS), implemented by the UNDP.
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