Sustainable management of Ocean resources


The “Oceans, climate and resources” Department (OCEANS) addresses research issues regarding ocean development in an integrated manner, with a focus on the processes which affect the intertropical zone. Oceans are at the heart of the sustainable development agenda, with two of the 17 sustainable development goals: SDG 13 on action to combat climate change and its impacts and SDG 14 on the oceans, seas and marine resources.

Research within the department focuses on two major scientific areas: Understanding the role of the tropical ocean in the current climate dynamics, and studying the evolution of marine ecosystems and their exploitation in a context of global change.

In 2018, researchers placed particular emphasis on the following scientific topics:

The department also continued to support observation and modelling systems at the interface between physics, ecological, economic and social sciences.

Key figures

Flagship projects

Effectiveness of marine reserves compromised by human contact

Researchers studied 1,800 coral reefs, 106 of which were located in 20 marine reserves.

IRD celebrates the 3rd International Year of the Reef

On this occasion, IRD enabled the general public to discover partnered research on this essential theme, during events organised in mainland and Overseas France.

El Niño and weather hazards

The modelling of 2015 and 2016 El Niño events highlights the importance of unpredictable high-frequency winds.

Variability and convergence at the heart of the oceans

While gigantic eddies trap floating particles at the heart of each ocean basin in subtropical regions, other currents link the Southern Indian Ocean to the South Pacific.


  • Stranding of sargassum seaweed under investigation

    Martinique and Guadeloupe have been particularly affected by this recurring natural phenomenon, with significant effects on the environment, health and the economy.

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  • IRD, sponsor of the High-level conference on the oceans and climate

    UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the Ocean and Climate Platform organised a High-level Scientific Conference on 10 and 11 September 2018 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

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  • Monitoring the tropical Atlantic ocean

    From 22 to 26 October 2018, IRD hosted the 23rd annual conference of the PIRATA programme in Marseille, an observatory dedicated to studying ocean-atmosphere interactions in the tropical Atlantic.

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  • Nouvelle-Calédonie, archipel de corail

    This book, co-published by IRD and Solaris, received the Guy Laserre Overseas award from the Bordeaux Academy of Science and Literature.

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And in the future?

As a priority in 2019, IRD will continue to support projects combining environmental, societal and economic concerns with marine resource conservation and exploitation objectives in high-sea, coastal areas and small, developing island nations. The Department will back studies on interactions and retroactions between climate, the ocean, its ecosystems and governance methods in Exclusive Economic Zones and beyond national jurisdictions. It will contribute to building scenarios for the evolution of socio-ecosystems in a context of global change.

As such, the momentum created by the “Vulnerability of coastal zones in a context of global change” PSIP in 2017 has been building over the past few months in West Africa’s coastal areas. In 2019, as part of this PSIP, IRD will strive to support and advance interdisciplinary scientific collaboration with our African and international partners, based on already extensive knowledge in this field at regional level, with a view to better informing the decision-making process in a context of global change. For the other regions of the intertropical zone also faced with serious coastal issues, in 2019 the PSIP will analyse the actions to be undertaken in order to address local needs and situations, while taking an overall look to fully understand this global and interdisciplinary issue.