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Bio-prospecting and benthic mapping were highlighted during the conference On the exploration and utilizing the resources of the sea that was arranged in historical environments in Lisbon on Wednesday Dec 14. MAREANO was among the invited speakers.
The Norwegian embassy in Portugal was hosting the conference in close co-operation with Portuguese authorities, where, among other official representatives, the State Secretary Manuel Pinto de Abreu partook together with the Norwegian ambassador Ove Thorsheim. The interest for bio-prospecting, i.e. the search for new chemical to be used within medicine and industry, is increasing also in Portugal, which has contributed to the similarly increased interest in mapping the sea floor and its bio-resource. Dr. Børge Holte, the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, described the background for establishing MAREANO, the field methods being used, and also showed some results.
MAREANO seem to be well-known in within Portuguese marine institutions and a clear interest for the MAREANO technology was observed, also from the Portuguese State Secretary and the Task-Group Maritime Affairs of Portugal. Not least was attention showed towards the co-operation between the different disciplinary institutions within geology, depth and terrain measurements/modeling, and marine biology, which in the MAREANO project include, respectively, the Geological Survey of Norway, the Norwegian Hydrographic Service and the Institute of Marine Research. The interest for species identification and mapping of benthic fauna is as well important due to the developing industrial interest for the potential values exploiting substances extracted from marine organisms.
As much as 20.000 unique chemical substances (metabolits) are identified and registered. In his presentation, Professor Trond Jørgensen, the University of Tromsø and head of the MabCent, put forward that northern living organisms are in particular interesting as bio-prospecting objects due to fact that their enzymatic activity is sustained even though living in cold Arctic waters. Thus it is worthwhile noting that the Norwegian national bio-bank Marbank primo 2012 is to be laid under the Institute for Marine Research. The main objects for Marbank is to collect marine organisms to be used for future bio-prospecting purposes.