United Nations
The Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science
by The Bertarelli Foundation (Philanthropic organization)
The Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science (BPMS) brings together talented scientists from around the world to study the Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

This large, remote, near pristine, no-take MPA presents an incredible opportunity to undertake an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the role of these complex ecosystems for mobile species such as tunas, sharks, turtles, and seabirds. As BIOT has been negatively impacted by the 2015-2016 global coral bleaching event, this also provides a focal area to understand the resilience large marine reserves offer in the absence of fishing and other local anthropogenic pressures.

In this first phase, the BPMS comprises four thematic programme areas:

1. Sentinel species. Determine the distribution, abundance and connectivity of charismatic megafauna, including seabirds, turtles, tuna, sharks and mantas. Examine how these species use the reserve and how it works to protect this biodiversity.

2. Coral reef resilience. Establish the resilience of coral reef species and habitats within the BIOT MPA particularly as a baseline comparison for more heavily impacted reefs.

3. Science to management. Use research findings to inform the management needs of BIOT and support the UKs international commitments to SDG14.

4. Communication. Use new approaches to communicate the science that will engage a wider audience in ocean conservation and the value of large MPAs.

Our second phase will expand the research further into the open ocean with a planned programme of oceanographic, mesophotic and benthic research.
Between 2017 and 2021 the BPMS will transform our understanding of the benefits of the BIOT MPA for terrestrial, reef-dwelling and pelagic species. It seeks to work in a creative partnership between science, communication and management to support an exemplary large marine reserve for the Indian Ocean.
Progress reports
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
Marine Science Symposiums
Increased understanding of the conservation value of large, no-take MPAs
Financing (in USD)
12,000,000 USD
Basic information
Time-frame: 2017 - 2021
British Indian Ocean Territory Administration (Government); Zoological Society of London (NGO); Stanford University (Academic Institution); Deakin University (Academic Institution); Swansea University (Academic Institution); University of Exeter (Academic Institution); Bangor University (Academic Institution); University of Oxford (Academic Institution); University of Hawaii (Academic Institution); University College London (Academic Institution); Australian Institute of Marine Science (Scientific Community); Lancaster University (Academic Institution)
Ocean Basins
  • Indian Ocean
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Damian Jensen, Programme Manager, damian.jensen@fondation-bertarelli.org,
Other SDGs
United Nations