New $25m programme for marine science research & development in Singapore

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The Singapore Government is starting a new marine science research and development programme, pumping in $25 million over the next five years to spur research into how Singapore can better cope with emerging challenges such as climate change, heavy shipping and urbanisation. (StraitsTimes News)

This was announced by the National Research Foundation (NRF), which is collaborating with the National University of Singapore for the programme. The Republic is blessed with a good location that makes it one of the world’s top transshipment hubs, but it is not taking providence for granted, said the spokesperson 

Called the Marine Science Research and Development Programme, it will be helmed by Professor Peter Ng, head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and former director of NUS Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI). Although they may not look it, the waters around Singapore are home to a surprising amount of marine life. The island state is located at the intersection of the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, within the Coral Triangle – an area considered to be the world’s richest treasure trove of marine life.

More than 250 species of hard corals – representing more than 30 per cent of hard coral species found around the world – have been recorded in Singapore’s waters. In addition, it has 12 of the 23 species of seagrasses in the Indo-Pacific region, about 200 species of sponges and over 100 species of reef fish, according to data from the National Parks Board.

With so much biodiversity, scientific research will enable Singapore to make full and more intense use of its sea space to increase its blue economy while maintaining its sustainability, says marine conservation veteran Chou Loke Ming, who has been studying corals at TMSI for more than 30 years.

Alongside the launch of the programme, NRF also on Thursday announced that Singapore’s one and only offshore marine research facility on St John’s Island — located south of Singapore — will be opened up to all marine science researchers here. About 16 marine science research proposals are currently being evaluated and successful ones are expected to be awarded in late 2016.

There are four main research thrusts under the programme: the study of marine ecosystems and biodiversity, environment impact and monitoring, coastal ecological engineering and marine technology and platforms. Read more.