Cablegate: Marine Science Research: New Opportunities For

Published: Tue 5 Apr 2005 03:28 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
This message contains a sensitive but unclassified
paragraph 8. Please handle accordingly.
1. (U) On March 18, EST Science Counselor and the NSF
regional representative for Europe met with
officials of the French Institute for Research
into Sea Resources (IFREMER - to
review IFREMER's priorities and discuss means to
promote bilateral cooperation (NOAA/IFREMER),
notably in climate science. While IFREMER is
undergoing institutional changes, including the
appointment of a new president, IFREMER
officials expressed a strong willingness to
enhance current, often informal, joint work. An
IFREMER-hosted workshop could be a first step.
a new call for proposals on tsunami-related
research for 2006 utilizing its vessels. End
Marine Science research in France/key role of IFREMER
--------------------------------------------- --------
2. (U) Marine science research in France is conducted
by a variety of organizations--universities,
CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research,, IRD (Research Institute for
(Overseas) Development,,
CETMEF(marine technology, - French only),
Meteo France (French Meteorological Office,, IPEV (polar science,, CNES (French Space Agency,, and SHOM (French Naval
Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service, - French only). Marine research
covers almost all fields, notably numerical
ocean modeling, understanding of marine
ecosystems, marine geoscience, and submarine
research technologies. This combined effort
includes over 3000 researchers and technicians.
Extensive EU collaboration accounts for 40
percent of funding. Over 50 percent (staff and
budget) of French research in marine science is
conducted at IFREMER.
3. (U) Created in 1984, IFREMER is a semi-public
research establishment of industrial and
commercial nature that reports to four
ministries: Research, Ecology,
Agriculture/Fisheries, and Transport and
Housing. Eighty percent of its 150 million euro
budget comes from the Research Ministry and 20
percent comes from services performed for other
government organizations such as coastal
monitoring stations. IFREMER facilities (1700
employees, including 320 ship management staff)
are located throughout France and the French
overseas territories in the Caribbean, the
Pacific, and the Indian Ocean. IFREMER's
objectives are: 1) identify, evaluate, and
forecast exploitation of marine resources; 2)
develop monitoring and forecasting methods for
protecting and enhancing coastal environments;
and 3) encourage economic development of marine
Currents of Change
4. (U) In January 2005 IFREMER reorganized from
groupings by technical competencies into a
system of programs containing smaller projects
to insure close and efficient collaboration on
specific scientific priorities. According to
IFREMER officials, these multidisciplinary
projects aim at solving "complex" issues related
to climate, biodiversity, and the environment,
and are more widely open to national and
international scientific partnership. IFREMER's
high level thematic areas are now:
- large equipment in support of oceanographic research
current fleet includes seven vessels (four of
which deep-sea vessels), two manned
submersibles, and one remotely-operated vehicle
for deep sea explorations)
- monitoring and exploitation of coastal seas
- monitoring and optimization of aquaculture
- sustainable exploitation of fisheries
- exploration and exploitation of deep oceans
- the mechanisms, evolution, and forecasting of ocean
currents and marine ecosystems.
5. (U) IFREMER's new president: Politician-in-charge.
Jean-Yves Perrot, a magistrate with the French
"Cour des Comptes" (similar to the U.S. General
Accounting Office) has been appointed to replace
Jean Francois Minster at the head of IFREMER.
In contrast with his predecessor, Perrot has no
scientific background. The impact of the
arrival of this "non-scientist" at the head of
IFREMER remains to be seen. (Biosketch and
comment see para 8).
NOAA/IFREMER Cooperation: Intensifying Cooperation
--------------------------------------------- -------
6. (U) Currently, interaction between IFREMER and U.S.
researchers is conducted at the initiative of
individual scientists. According to IFREMER
officials, IFREMER researchers are ready for
more ambitious approaches. The next step would
be the selection of "domains" for joint research
projects. IFREMER's head of International
Affairs will seek his hierarchy's approval to
host a workshop to:
- cross examine scientific projects to confirm interest
on both sides; and
- devise a set of tools to make these partnerships more
efficient/easier to conduct.
A possible specific issue of interest to both sides is
operational oceanography. IFREMER officials
commented that discussions at both scientific
and institutional levels appear necessary and
will require the identification of specific
entities (e.g., the U.S. Embassy)to act as
Tsunami-related research
7. (U) IFREMER officials informed ESToff that IFREMER
is currently revising its 2006 planning.
Following the December 2004 events, IFREMER has
decided to issue a new call for research
projects focusing on tsunami issues and
geosciences. This new call is opened to U.S.
IFREMER's new President: a bureaucrat takes the reins
--------------------------------------------- --------
8. (SBU) Jean-Yves Perrot, 48, was appointed on March
24 to replace Jean Francois Minster (who was
candidate to his own reelection) at the head of
IFREMER. A graduate of the prestigious French
school for Political Sciences ("Sciences Po"),
and a former student of the Ecole Nationale
d'Administration (ENA), he worked for two years
(2002-2004) as Director of Cabinet of
Agriculture Minister Herve Gaymard, before
following him as "special adviser" at the
Finance Ministry in November 2004. He was
previously Director for International and
Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Public
Works, Transports, Housings and Tourism.
Gaymard's sudden resignation in February 2005
left him "unemployed." Perrot also holds a
number of political posts: he is notably the
Mayor of Marly-le-Roi, a medium-sized city in
the western suburbs of Paris and sits in the Ile-
de-France Regional Council. Note: Perrot's
nomination at the head of IFREMER took the
science community by surprise and raised turmoil
among researchers' unions. The latter commented
that it is the first time in France that a
politician, without any scientific or technical
background has been appointed to head a public
research establishment. They further noted that
Perrot is not likely to renounce his political
mandates and will be at best a "part-time"
director. During their meeting with EST
officers, IFREMER's officials underscored that
the newcomer had spent two years in a top
position at the Ministry of Agriculture, which
also oversees fisheries. End note.
Comment and Next Steps
9. (U) IFREMER is a prestigious French public research
establishment with competent research personnel
and impressive equipment for ocean research.
IFREMER officials seek opportunities to enhance
their organization's relationships with
scientists and similar institutions in the U.S.,
particularly NOAA, with which it shares a rich
past. EST officer shared with IFREMER several
possible topics for collaboration provided in
advance by NOAA counterparts. IFREMER will
study these and respond to them and possibly
advance other topics in the coming months. They
consider that a workshop to discuss these
subjects and modalities for approved
collaborative projects makes sense. In the
interim, the Embassy will be pleased to serve as
a facilitator. For example, should NOAA wish to
bring additional proposals to IFREMER's
attention, the Embassy would be pleased to
assist. From the Embassy's perspective,
collaborative work between U.S. climate science
agencies such as NOAA and IFREMER, perhaps under
the GEOSS framework, would serve as concrete
evidence of U.S.-French collaboration to address
the climate change phenomenon. LEACH
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