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Global Results

Detailed results on the deep-sea capacity of 186 geographical areas divided into six regions, including indices for regional comparisons.

Published onSep 12, 2022
Global Results
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1 Global Overview

For the global results of the 2022 Global Deep-Sea Capacity Assessment, we evaluated six regions: Europe, Asia, Northern America, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean (Figure 1). These regions encompass 258 geographical areas (GeoAreas), of which 197 are sovereign countries (76%) and 61 are dependent territories (24%) (Figure 2A; Global GeoAreas) [1]. Seventy-seven GeoAreas are high income (30%), 54 are upper-middle income (21%), 54 are lower middle income (21%), 27 are low income (10%), and 46 are not economically classified (18%) (Figure 2B; Global Income Groups) [2]. Fifty-eight GeoAreas are Small Island Developing States (SIDS) (Global GeoAreas) [1].

Sources: (1) Esri. 2022. World Countries (Generalized). Esri; Garmin International, Inc.; U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. (2) Flanders Marine Institute. 2019. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase, version 11. (3) GEBCO Bathymetric Compilation Group 2021. 2021. The GEBCO_2021 Grid - a continuous terrain model of the global oceans and land. NERC EDS British Oceanographic Data Centre NOC.
Figure 1

Global Regions
Map of the world showing the six regions used in the 2022 Global Deep-Sea Capacity Assessment: Europe (purple), Asia (orange), Northern America (blue), Africa (yellow), Oceania (red), and Latin America & the Caribbean (green). Light shades of each color indicate the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of each region. [1][3][4][5]


This assessment includes information about the technical and human capacity of 186 countries and territories, or “GeoAreas.” For 119 GeoAreas, we have both survey and research data; for 62 GeoAreas, we have only research data; and for five GeoAreas, we have only survey data (Figure 2C; Global Data Sources). We did not collect research data for the remaining 73 GeoAreas because they have no ocean, less than 1% of their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is deeper than 200 m, or they are uninhabited or not permanently inhabited.

Sources: (1) United Nations. 2022. Methodology: Standard country or area codes for statistical use (M49). UN Statistics Division. Accessed 26 Apr 2022. (2) The World Bank. 2022. World Bank Country and Lending Groups. Accessed 26 Apr 2022.
Figure 2

GeoArea Information
(A) Number of sovereign countries (blue) and dependent territories (orange) in each region of the world. (B) Number of high income (blue), upper middle income (orange), lower middle income (yellow), low income (teal), and not classified (grey) GeoAreas in each region of the world. (C) Number of GeoAreas with survey and research data (blue), survey data only (orange), research data only (yellow), and no data (grey) used in this assessment for each region. [1][2]


Two hundred fifteen GeoAreas claim marine EEZs, covering 138,282,000 km2 (Figure 3; Global EEZs) [3][4][5]. Of those, 197 GeoAreas have deep ocean in their EEZs (>200 meters below sea level; mbsl), encompassing an area of approximately 113,266,000 km2, or 82% of the total EEZ area worldwide.

GeoAreas in Oceania claim the largest EEZ area, approximately twice as large as any other region in the world. GeoAreas in Europe claim the smallest EEZ area, not including overseas territories and dependencies in other regions. The United States of America, Australia, French Polynesia, Indonesia, and New Zealand have the largest deep-ocean areas within their EEZs. Note that this calculation is based on area contiguous only to the GeoArea itself, not including their dependent overseas territories, which are treated as separate GeoAreas in their geographical regions throughout this assessment (e.g., French Polynesia is included in Oceania).

Sources: (1) Esri. 2022. World Countries (Generalized). Esri; Garmin International, Inc.; U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. (2) Flanders Marine Institute. 2019. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase, version 11. (3) GEBCO Bathymetric Compilation Group 2021. 2021. The GEBCO_2021 Grid - a continuous terrain model of the global oceans and land. NERC EDS British Oceanographic Data Centre NOC.
Figure 3

Exclusive Economic Zones
(A) Number of GeoAreas with >1% deep ocean within their EEZ (blue), <1% deep ocean within their EEZ (orange), and no EEZ (yellow). (B) Area of each depth zone for all EEZs claimed in each region of the world. (C) Area of global EEZs by oceanographic depth zone. [3][4][5]


Globally, the largest depth zone by area lies 2,000-4,000 mbsl, covering 32% of all EEZs, followed by 0 to 4,000-6,000 mbsl (31% of all EEZs) (Figure 3B, C). In Europe, the largest depth zone by area is 0-200 mbsl (39% of EEZ area), and its largest deep-sea zone is 2,000-4,000 mbsl (23%). Asia has two depth zones of equal size: 0-200 and 2,000-4,000 mbsl (27% each of Asia’s EEZ area). In Northern America, the largest depth zone is 0-200 mbsl (30% of EEZ are), and its largest deep-sea zones are 2,000-4,000 and 4,000-6,000 mbsl (23% each). Africa’s largest depth zone is between 2,000-4,000 mbsl (46%); notably, Africa has a negligible area that is deeper than 6,000 m (<100 km2). Oceania’s largest depth zone is between 4,000-6,000 mbsl (50%). The largest depth zone in Latin America & the Caribbean is between 2,000-4,000 mbsl (45%).

"Our continental shelf and slope is one of the narrowest and steepest in the world....we are essentially surrounded by deep water so it makes sense for us to delve in! " - Respondent for Sri Lanka, Southern Asia


2. Survey Responses & Demographics

2.1 Geographic & Demographic Representation

Respondents were asked four questions about their geographic and demographic representation: which GeoArea they represent, in what GeoArea they live, their gender identification, and their age group.

Which GeoArea would you like to represent for this survey? (Q1)
Three hundred sixty complete surveys representing 124 GeoAreas globally were submitted to the Global Deep-Sea Capacity Assessment Survey (Figure 4). Thirty-three were for Europe, 75 for Asia, 38 for Northern America, 101 for Africa, 23 for Oceania, and 90 for Latin America & the Caribbean. We received only one survey response for 50 GeoAreas. We received the most surveys from the United States (34), Venezuela (11), the Republic of Korea (11), and Israel (10). Ninety percent of respondents lived in the GeoArea they represented.

Figure 4

Respondent Geographic Representation
GeoAreas with one survey response (A), 2-3 survey responses (B), 4-9 survey responses (C), and 10 or more survey responses (D). The United States had 34 responses. [3][4][5]

Figure 5

Respondent Demographic Representation
(A)
Gender identity of survey respondents for each region. (B) Number of survey respondents by age group for each region.

As what gender do you identify? (Q41)
Two hundred twenty-eight of the respondents were male (63%), while 123 were female (34%), two were gender fluid (1%), one was agender (0.5%), and six preferred not to answer (2%) (Figure 5A).

What is your age? (Q39)
The largest number of responses were from the 35-44 and 25-34-year age groups (32%, 26%), followed by the 45-54 year age group (19%), 55-64 year age group (16%), 65+ year age group (5%), and 18-24 year age group (1%) (Figure 5B).

2.2 Professional Representation

Respondents were asked four questions about their professional representation: what is their highest level of education completed, in what organizational sector do they work, what are their primary roles, and in what marine environments do they work.

What is the highest degree or education level you have completed? (Q42)
Most respondents held advanced degrees: 184 had a doctorate (51%), and 100 had a master's degree (28%). Forty-five held a bachelor's degree (13%), and 31 had completed some graduate school, high school, or other education (9%) (Figure 6A).

What is the organizational sector of your affiliation? (Q43)
Most respondents for Asia worked in academia (43%) or government (33%). Smaller percentages of respondents worked for not-for-profit organizations (8%), non-governmental organizations (6%), or other sectors (10%) (Figure 6B).

Figure 6

Respondent Professional Representation
(A)
Completed education level of respondents for each region. (B) Organizational sector of respondents for each region: academia (Acad), government (Gov), not-for-profit (NFP), non-governmental organization (NGO), or other. (C) Number of respondents who identified with up to three roles that they represent in their communities: science/research (Sci), education/outreach (Edu), conservation/advocacy (Cons), management/policy/law (Mgt), student/early career researcher (ECR), engineering/technology (Eng), developing nation/community (Dev), aquatics/recreation (Aqua), traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), Government (Gov), or other.


What are the primary roles you represent in your GeoArea? (Q5)
Respondents were asked to select up to three primary roles they represented in their communities from a list of the following options: science/research, education/outreach, policy/law/management/government, developing nation/community, engineering/technology, traditional knowledge, aquatics/recreation, industry/investment, philanthropy, student/early career, conservation/advocacy they were also allowed to enter free-text if a role of theirs was not an option.

Three hundred three respondents considered themselves scientists or researchers (84%), 143 worked in education and outreach (40%), and 102 in conservation (28%). Sixty-seven worked in management/policy/law (19%) and 47 in engineering/technology (13%). Fifty were students or early career researchers (14%). Fewer respondents represented developing nations/communities, aquatics or recreation, traditional ecological knowledge, and other roles  (Figure 6C).

If you carry out field research, in what marine environment(s) do you work? (Q6)
Respondents were asked to select all marine environments in which they do field work from a list of the following options: inshore, nearshore, continental shelf, deepwater, or none of the above; they were also allowed to enter free-text if a marine environment in which they work was not an option.

Figure 7

Respondent Field Research Environments
Number of respondents who work in each marine environment, by region: inshore, nearshore, continental shelf (Shelf), deep ocean (Deep), other areas (Other), or none of the above (None).

Most respondents worked in the nearshore environment (54%); less than half of the respondents worldwide worked in the deep sea (44%) (Figure 7).

Northern America had the largest fraction of respondents who worked in deep water (79%), followed by Europe (60%), Asia (49%), Oceania (43%), Latin America & the Caribbean (37%), and Africa (27%). Two hundred seven respondents (59%) worked in more than one field environment. Forty-seven respondents (13%) worked in other environments or did not conduct fieldwork.

3 Issues, Challenges, & Opportunities

3.1 Highlights

  • Issues | Conservation & protection, basic science & exploration, and fisheries & aquaculture were the three most important deep-sea issues identified by respondents.

  • Challenges | Funding, human capacity, access to vessels, and access to deep submergence vehicles were the most important challenges globally.

  • Opportunities | Training opportunities, less expensive data collection technology, and better data tools were identified as the most exciting opportunities by respondents globally.

3.2 Deep-Sea Issues

What are the three most important deep-sea issues in your GeoArea? (Q3)
Respondents were asked to select up to three deep-sea issues that they considered most important for their GeoArea from a list of the following options: basic science & exploration, fisheries & aquaculture, seabed mining, conservation & protection, maritime archaeology & history, offshore oil & gas, renewable energy, safety & security, telecommunications, and climate change; they were also allowed to enter free-text if an issue was not an option.

Globally, conservation & protection (19% of all selections), and basic science & exploration and fisheries & aquaculture (18% each) were the three most important issues identified by respondents (Table 1).

Table 1

Region of the World

Most important deep-sea issues identified by respondents globally

Europe

Conservation & protection (24%)
Basic science & exploration (19%)
Fisheries & aquaculture (16%)

Asia

Basic science & exploration (20%)
Offshore oil & gas (19%)
Fisheries & aquaculture (15%)

Northern America

Basic science & exploration (21%)
Conservation & protection (20%)
Climate change (18%)

Africa

Fisheries & aquaculture (23%)
Conservation & protection (17%) 
Offshore oil & gas (16%)

Oceania

Conservation & protection (23%)
Climate change (20%)
Seabed mining (14%)

Latin America & the Caribbean

Basic science & exploration (22%)
Conservation & protection (21%)
Fisheries & aquaculture (19%)

In Europe, conservation & protection were considered the most important deep-sea issues, followed by basic science & exploration and fisheries & aquaculture. In Asia, the three most important issues were basic science & exploration, offshore oil & gas, and fisheries & aquaculture. In Northern America, the three most important issues were basic science & exploration, conservation & protection, and climate change. In Africa, fisheries & aquaculture was the most important, followed by conservation & protection and offshore oil & gas. In Oceania, the three most important issues were conservation & protection, climate change, and seabed mining. In Latin America & the Caribbean, basic science & exploration was considered the most important deep-sea issue, followed by conservation & protection and fisheries & aquaculture.

3.3 Deep-Sea Challenges

What are the top three challenges to deep-sea exploration and research in your GeoArea? (Q33)
Respondents were asked to select up to three deep-sea exploration and research challenges that they consider most important for their GeoArea from a list of the following options: funding, access to vessels, access to deep submergence vehicles, access to deep-sea sensors, access to data tools, scalability of technologies, human capacity/knowledge to do deep-sea research, lack of connections with other deep-sea researchers; they were also allowed to enter free-text if a challenge was not an option.

Overall, funding (29%), human capacity (17%), access to vessels (17%), and access to deep-submergence vehicles (15%) were the most important challenges globally. Funding was the most important challenge in every region of the world (Table 2).

Table 2

Region of the World

Most important deep-sea challenges identified by respondents globally

Europe

Funding (32%)
Access to vessels (21%)
Access to deep submergence vehicles (16%)

Asia

Funding (30%)
Capacity/knowledge to do deep sea research (19%)
Access to vessels (19%)

Northern America

Funding (31%)
Access to vessels (20%)
Access to deep submergence vehicles (19%)

Africa

Funding (23%)
Capacity/knowledge to do deep sea research (19%)
Access to vessels (16%)

Oceania

Funding (31%)
Capacity/knowledge to do deep sea research (26%) 
Access to deep submergence vehicles (14%)

Latin America & the Caribbean

Funding (32%)
Capacity/knowledge to do deep sea research (17%)
Access to vessels ( 17%)

In Europe and Northern America, funding was the most important challenge to deep-sea exploration and research, followed by access to vessels and access to deep submergence vehicles. In Asia, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean, the most important challenges were funding, human capacity, and access to vessels. In Oceania, funding was also the most important challenge, followed by human capacity and access to deep submergence vehicles.

3.4 Deep-Sea Opportunities

What are you most excited about in the next 5-10 years for deep-sea exploration and research in your GeoArea? (Q34)
Respondents were asked to select up to three opportunities in the next 5-10 years that they were most excited about for their GeoArea from a list of the following options: technology that can go deeper, less expensive data collection technologies, better/more precise data collection technologies, scalable platforms & sensors, better data access and analysis tools, training opportunities, and networking/connecting with others; they were also allowed to enter free-text if an opportunity was not an option.

Training opportunities (18% of all selections), less expensive data collection technology (16%), and better data tools (14%) were identified as the most exciting opportunities by respondents globally (Table 3).

Table 3

Region

Most exciting opportunities identified by respondents globally

Europe

Less expensive data collection technology (18%)
Training opportunities (16%)
More precise data collection technology (15%)

Asia

Less expensive data collection technology (17%)
Training opportunities (16%)
Connecting with others (16%)

Northern America

Less expensive data collection technology (24%)
Scalable platforms & sensors (15%)
Technology that can go deeper (14%)

Africa

Training opportunities (21%)
More precise data collection technology (14%)
Technology that can go deeper (14%)
Better data tools (14%)

Oceania

More precise data collection technology (18%)
Training opportunities (16%)
Better data tools (15%)

Latin America & the Caribbean

Training opportunities (22%)
Less expensive data collection technology (17%)
Better data tools (15%)

In Europe, respondents were most excited about less expensive data collection technology, training opportunities, and more precise data collection technology. Respondents in Asia were most excited about less expensive data collection technology, followed by training opportunities and connecting with others. In Northern America, less expensive data collection technology was the top opportunity, followed by scalable platforms & sensors and technology that can go deeper. In Africa, respondents were most excited about training opportunities, followed by more precise data collection technology, deeper technology, and better data tools. In Oceania, respondents were excited about better/more precise data collection technology, training opportunities, and better data tools. Respondents in Latin America & the Caribbean were most excited about training opportunities, less expensive data collection technology, and better data tools.

"Tonga is one of those countries that gives license for exploration in its EEZ. So for all we know from the contracting company, they can give any erroneous data and we have no way of validating them. Tonga would benefit from an ROV." Respondent for Tonga, Polynesia

4. Status of Deep-Sea Exploration & Research

4.1 Highlights

  • Importance | Respondents for Asia agreed the most that deep-sea exploration and research was considered important in their GeoArea. Respondents for Latin America & the Caribbean and Northern America agreed the least.

  • Technology | Respondents for Northern America agreed the most that they had in-country technology to conduct deep-sea exploration and research. Respondents for Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean agreed the least.

  • Expertise | Respondents for Northern America agreed the most that they had in-country expertise to conduct deep-sea exploration and research. Respondents for Oceania and Latin America & the Caribbean agreed the least.

4.2 Importance, Technology, & Expertise

How would you assess the status of deep-sea (>200 m) exploration and research in your GeoArea? (Q4)
Survey respondents were asked to assess the status of deep-sea exploration and research in their GeoArea by stating to what extent they agreed with the following statements on a five-point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree:

  1. Deep-sea exploration and research are considered important in my GeoArea.

  2. We have in-country technology to conduct deep-sea exploration and research.

  3. We have in-country expertise to conduct deep-sea exploration and research.

Globally, more than half (52%) of respondents agreed that exploration and research were considered important in their GeoArea (Figure 8A). More than half of respondents (51%) disagreed that they have the in-country technology to conduct deep-sea exploration and research (Figure 8B). More than half (52%) agreed that they have the in-country expertise to conduct deep-sea exploration and research (Figure 8C).

Figure 8

Deep-Sea Importance, Technology, & Expertise
(A)
Number of respondents who agreed (green) or disagreed (blue) that deep-sea exploration and research is considered important in their GeoArea, by region. (B) Number of respondents who agreed (green) or disagreed (blue) that their GeoArea has in-country deep-sea tools and technology, by region. (C) Number of respondents who agreed (green) or disagreed (blue) that their GeoArea has in-country deep-sea expertise, by region.


Approximately half of the respondents for Europe agreed that deep-sea exploration and research were considered important and that they had in-country tools (52% and 56%, respectively). Seventy-six percent agreed that they had in-country expertise. In Asia, 64% agreed that deep-sea exploration and research was considered important in their GeoArea, but only 48-53% said they had in-country tools and expertise. 

In Africa, 60% of respondents agreed that deep-sea exploration and research was considered important. Still, only 11% agreed they had in-country tools, and 41% agreed they had in-country expertise. In Oceania, 65% of respondents agreed that deep-sea exploration and research was considered important. Still, only 22% agreed they had in-country tools, and 35% agreed they had in-country expertise. 

In Northern America, only 48% agreed that deep-sea exploration and research was considered important, while 89-92% agreed that they had in-country tools and expertise. In Latin America & the Caribbean, only 31% of respondents agreed that deep-sea exploration and research was considered important in their GeoArea–the lowest agreement globally; 16% agreed that they had in-country tools, and 41% agreed that they had in-country expertise.

4.3 Deep-Sea Capacity Status Parameters

Based on the survey results of Question 4 above, we aggregated the responses for which respondents agreed or strongly agreed that (1) deep-sea exploration and research are considered important in their GeoArea, (2) they have in-country deep-sea technology, and (3) they have in-country deep-sea expertise. These data were used to calculate three Deep-Sea Capacity Status Parameters (SPs) to compare respondents’ perceptions of the relative importance of deep-sea exploration and research in their GeoArea, and the existence of deep-sea technology and expertise in their GeoArea. The SPs were calculated for each subregion of the world.

Figure 9

Deep-Sea Capacity Status Parameters
(A)
Number of subregions with each Importance Status Parameter, by region. (B) Number of subregions with each Technology Status Parameter, by region. (C) Number of subregions with each Expertise Status Parameter, by region.


The Importance Status Parameter (Importance SP) assessed the respondent-reported importance of deep-sea exploration and research in their GeoArea (Figure 9A). Asia had the highest average Importance SP, followed by Oceania, indicating that most respondents for Asia and Oceania thought that deep-sea exploration and research was considered important in their GeoArea. Latin America & the Caribbean and Northern America had the lowest average Importance SPs. 

Asia had the largest fraction of subregions with high Importance SPs of 4 or 5 (75%). In Latin America & the Caribbean, on the other hand, all subregions had low Importance SPs of 2. European and Oceanian subregions ranged from low (2) to very high (5) Importance SPs. With 43% of all subregions worldwide having a high Importance SP of 4 or 5, this was the highest of the three status parameters. 

The Technology Status Parameter (Technology SP) assessed the respondent-reported existence of deep-sea tools and technology in their GeoArea (Figure 9B). Northern America had the highest average Technology SP, followed by Europe, indicating that respondents felt deep-sea tools and technology existed in their GeoArea. On the contrary, Latin America & the Caribbean, and Africa had the lowest average Technology SPs. 

Only five subregions, Eastern Asia, Northern Europe, Western Europe, Australia & New Zealand, and Northern America, had high Technology SPs of 4 or 5. However, two-thirds of all subregions worldwide had a low Technology SP of 1 or 2, including all of Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean, making this the lowest of the three status parameters.

The Expertise Status Parameter (Expertise SP) assessed the respondent-reported existence of deep-sea expertise in their GeoArea (Figure 9C). Northern America had the highest average Expertise SP, followed by Europe, indicating that respondents thought that in-country expertise required to carry out deep-sea exploration and research existed in their GeoArea. Latin America & the Caribbean and Oceania had the lowest average Expertise SPs. 

All subregions of Europe and Northern America had high Expertise SPs of 4 or 5, while Oceania had the largest fraction of subregions with low Expertise SPs of 1 or 2. 

4.4 Status Parameter Groups

The Deep-Sea Capacity Status Parameters (SPs) are based on respondents’ opinions of their GeoArea and are calculated on a scale of 1 for low agreement to 5 for high agreement with each statement (Data Collection & Analysis). SPs vary by subregion, which are classified into six SP Groups based on the level of agreement with each of the status parameters (Table 4). Using the SP Groups, we can evaluate respondents’ perceptions of the importance of and existence of in-country resources for deep-sea exploration and research at the subregional level.

Table 4

SP Group

Importance

Tech

Expertise

Subregions

A

High

High

High

Northern Europe, Western Europe, Eastern Asia

B

Low

High

High

Northern America, Australia & New Zealand

C

Low

Low

Mid

Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Asia, Northern Africa, South America

D

High

Low

Mid

Southeastern Asia, Western Africa

E

High

Low

Low

Southern Asia, Eastern Africa, Melanesia, Micronesia

F

Low

Low

Low

Middle Africa, Southern Africa, Polynesia, Central America, Caribbean

On one end of the spectrum, in SP Group A, Northern Europe, Western Europe, and Eastern Asia have high Importance, Technology, and Expertise SPs. On the other end, in SP Group F, Middle Africa, Southern Africa, Polynesia, Central America, and the Caribbean have low Importance, Technology, and Expertise SPs.

Of note are Groups B and E. Respondents for subregions in SP Group B—Northern America and Australia & New Zealand— agreed there were high levels of in-country technology and expertise but thought deep-sea exploration and research was not considered important. Conversely, respondents for subregions in Technology Group E—Melanesia, Micronesia, Eastern Africa, and Southern Asia—agreed that deep-sea exploration was considered important but largely disagreed that in-country tools and expertise existed.

"Sensors are still largely lacking for seafloor monitoring at depth. Light-tech cost-limited sensor development [would] allow a larger set of users and flexible implementation, complementary to large scale infrastructures. Training is another important aspect to share these tools to users beyond specialized tech/engineers." --Respondent for France, Western Europe


5. Deep-Sea Capacity Presence, Accessibility, & Satisfaction

5.1 Highlights

  • Presence | Europe had the highest average presence of organizations and diversity of marine industries, vessels, DSVs, sensor systems, and data tools. Oceania, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean had the lowest average presence of marine infrastructure and deep-sea technology.

  • Accessibility | Northern America had the highest average access to different types of vessels, DSVs, sensor systems, and data tools. Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean had the lowest average access to multiple types of deep-sea technology.

  • Satisfaction | Europe had the highest average satisfaction with vessels, DSVs, sensor systems, and data tools. Oceania, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean had the lowest average satisfaction with the deep-sea technology to which respondents had access.

5.2 Presence, Accessibility, & Satisfaction Indices

We assessed organizations, industries, vessels, DSVs, sensors, and data tools using research to identify the presence of capacity in each GeoArea and survey responses to identify accessibility to and satisfaction of vessels, DSVs, sensors, and data tools in each subregion. We used this data to calculate three Deep-Sea Capacity Indices (DSC Indices) to enable comparisons between locations in terms of presence of, access to, and satisfaction with the various types of capacities.

In contrast to the Status Parameters, which are focused on the overall respondent perception of their GeoArea, the DSC Indices represent extensive research on marine infrastructure and deep-sea technology presence, survey respondents’ access to specific types of deep-sea technology, and respondents’ satisfaction with the technology to which they have access. The DSC Indices, therefore, are an initial attempt to assess the relative ability of researchers to conduct deep-sea exploration and research.

Figure 10

Deep-Sea Capacity Indices
(A)
Number of GeoAreas with each DSC Presence Index, by region. High DSCPIs indicate higher diversity of capacity types present in each GeoArea. (B) Number of subregions with each DSC Accessibility Index, by region. High DSCAIs indicate higher access to more types of deep-sea capacities. (C) Number of subregions with each DSC Satisfaction Index, by region. High DSCSIs indicate more overall satisfaction with the deep-sea capacities to which respondents had access.


The Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index (DSCPI) assessed the research-based presence of organizations and diversity of marine industries, vessels, DSVs, sensor systems, and data tools in each GeoArea; higher values indicate higher diversity of capacity types present in each GeoArea (Figure 10A). Europe had the highest average DSCPI, followed by Northern America, while Oceania, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean had the lowest average DSCPIs. 

Europe had the largest fraction of GeoAreas with high DSCPIs of 4 or 5 (65%) and the lowest fraction of GeoAreas with low DSCPIs of 1 or 2 (9%). Conversely, Oceania showed the opposite trend with 7% of GeoAreas with high DSCPIs of 4 or 5. Oceania, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean had a large fraction of GeoAreas with low DSCPIs of 1 or 2 (57-60%).

The Deep Sea Capacity Accessibility Index (DSCAI) assessed the respondent-reported access to different types of vessels, DSVs, sensor systems, and data tools in each subregion; higher values indicate higher access to more types of these deep-sea capacities in each subregion (Figure 10B). Northern America had the highest average DSCAI, followed by Europe, while Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean had the lowest average DSCAIs. 

Northern America and Northern Europe are the only subregions with very high access to many types of deep-sea tools, with DSCAIs of 5. In Africa, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean, 75-100% of subregions had low DSCAIs of 1 or 2, and Micronesia is the only subregion with the lowest DSCAI of 1.

The Deep Sea Capacity Satisfaction Index (DSCSI) assessed the respondent-reported satisfaction with vessels, DSVs, sensor systems, and data tools in each subregion, based on several factors, including cost, availability, and capabilities; higher values indicate more overall satisfaction with the deep-sea capacities to which respondents had access in each subregion (Figure 10C). Europe had the highest average DSCSI, followed by Northern America, while Oceania, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean had the lowest average DSCSIs. 

Asia, Europe, and Northern America had subregions with high (4) or very high (5) DSCSIs, and Northern Europe is the only subregion with a DSCSI of 5. In Africa, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean, half or more of the subregions had low (2) or very low (1) DSCSIs, including Melanesia and Micronesia, which had DSCSIs of 1.

5.3 Deep-Sea Capacity Groups

Using the Deep-Sea Capacity Indices, we identified four Deep-Sea Capacity Index Groups (DSC Groups) of subregions based on similarities concerning the presence of marine infrastructure and deep-sea technology, access to technology, and satisfaction with the technology available (Table 5).

Table 5

DSC Group

Presence

Access

Satisfaction

Subregions

A

Mid-high

High

High

Northern Europe, Northern America

B

Mid

Mid

Mid

Western Europe, Southern Europe, Eastern Asia, Southeastern Asia, Australia & New Zealand

C

Mid

Low-mid

Low-mid

Eastern Europe, Western Asia, Southern Asia, Northern Africa, Southern Africa, South America

D

Low

Low

Low-mid

Western Africa, Middle Africa, Eastern Africa, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, Central America, Caribbean

With subregions primarily in DSC Groups A and B, Northern America and Europe had the highest combination of the presence of, accessibility to, and satisfaction with marine infrastructure and deep-sea technology. Asia’s subregions were split between DSC Groups B and C, demonstrating the high variation in the presence of, access to, and satisfaction with marine infrastructure and deep-sea technology across the region. Oceania’s subregions were split between DSC Groups B and D, indicating high variation and mostly low presence of, access to, and satisfaction with marine infrastructure and deep-sea technology across the region. Subregions in Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean were in DSC Groups C and D, with the lowest presence of, access to, and satisfaction with marine infrastructure and deep-sea technology.

6. Organizations & Industries

6.1 Highlights

  • Organizations | We identified 2,136 deep-sea and marine organizations globally; 809 were universities and research laboratories, 812 were government agencies and ministries, and 515 were other organizations. Northern America had the highest normalized number of organizations per GeoArea, followed by Europe; Latin America & the Caribbean had the lowest. 

  • Industries | The most common types of industries found were marine transportation and fisheries & aquaculture, followed by tourism. Deep-sea mining was the least active industry found through research.

6.2 Organizations

Which universities and/or research labs, government agencies/ministries, and other organizations in your GeoArea study the deep sea or deal with deep-sea issues? (Q7-9, Q7-9R)
We surveyed respondents and conducted manual research to identify deep-sea and marine organizations, including universities and research laboratories, government agencies and ministries, and other organizations. Each research and survey data source had a limit of 5 organizations per type (lab, government, or other) per GeoArea. Overall, 1,361 deep-sea and marine organizations worldwide were found through manual research alone (64%), 527 were recorded from the survey alone (25%), and 248 were identified by both research and the survey (11%).

We identified 2,136 deep-sea and marine organizations globally; 809 were universities and research laboratories (38% of the total), 812 were government agencies and ministries (38%), and 515 were other organizations (24%) (Figure 11A). The largest number of organizations were found in Africa (631) and the fewest in Northern America (130). When normalized by the number of organizations per GeoArea, Northern America had the highest average number of organizations per GeoArea; the Caribbean had the lowest.

Figure 11

Organizations
(A)
Number of academic institutions (blue), government agencies (orange), and other organizations (grey) based in each region that do marine and/or deep-sea work. Number of survey and research data sources for each region (yellow line). (B) Number of GeoAreas with each Organizational Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index, by region. Higher Org DSCPIs indicate a higher abundance of organizations present in each GeoArea.


The Organizational Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index (Org DSCPI) assessed the research-based presence of research, government, and other marine organizations in each GeoArea; higher values indicate a higher abundance of organizations present in each GeoArea. Using the Org DSCPI (Figure 11B), we found that 33 GeoAreas (18%) had the maximum organization DSCPI of 5 (i.e., many organizations were present). Africa had the highest proportion of high organizational DSCPI values, with 77% of GeoAreas with an organization DSCPI of 4 or 5, followed by Europe with 48%. In Oceania, 86% of GeoAreas had an organizational DSCPI of 1 or 2, the lowest of all regions, possibly because Oceanian GeoAreas tend to be smaller in area and population than others. We found the highest disparity in Northern America, where only Canada and USA had an organizational DSCPI of 5. In contrast, Bermuda, Greenland, and St. Pierre & Miquelon, also in Northern America, had a DSCPI of 2. In Asia and Latin America & the Caribbean, there was a mix of all values from 1 to 5.

6.3 Marine Industries

What marine industries exist in each GeoArea? (Q10R)
We researched whether or not ten different marine industries were present in each GeoArea from a list of the following options: fisheries & aquaculture, marine transportation, tourism, conservation & protection, offshore oil & gas, safety & surveillance, marine construction, marine research & development, ocean renewable energy, and deep-sea mining.

The most common industries found across regions were marine transportation and fisheries & aquaculture (present in 97 and 98% of GeoAreas, respectively), followed by tourism (present in 91%) (Figure 12A). Deep-sea mining was the least active industry, found only in eight GeoAreas. However, we found deep-sea mining in prospect or under development in 54 GeoAreas worldwide.

Figure 12

Marine Industries: Research
(A)
Percent of GeoAreas in each region in which each type of marine industry was found: fisheries & aquaculture (Fish Aqua), marine transportation (Trans), tourism (Tour), conservation & protection (Cons Prot), offshore oil & gas (Oil Gas), safety & surveillance (Safety Surv), research & development (R&D), renewable energy (Renew Energy), and deep-sea mining (Deep Mining). (B) Number of GeoAreas with each Industry Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index, by region. High Industry DSCPIs indicate high diversity of industry types present in each GeoArea.


The Industry Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index (Industry DSCPI) assessed the research-based presence of types of marine industries in each GeoArea; higher values indicate higher diversity of industry types present in each GeoArea. Using the Deep Sea Capacity Presence Index for marine industries (Industry DSCPI), we found that 39 GeoAreas (22%) had the maximum Industry DSCPI of 5 (i.e., many types of industries were present) (Figure 12B). Given that 80 GeoAreas (44%) had an Industry DSCPI of 4, two-thirds of assessed GeoAreas worldwide had highly diverse marine industries. 

In four subregions, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Asia, and Northern America, all GeoAreas had a high Industry DSCPIs of 4 or 5. On the other end of the spectrum, Eastern Asia, Western Asia, Micronesia, and Polynesia are the four subregions with low Industry DSCPIs of 1 or 2 in more than 25% of their GeoAreas. Overall, Northern America had the highest proportion of GeoAreas with high Industry DSCPIs of 4 or 5 (100%), while Oceania and Latin America & the Caribbean had the lowest (43-48%). 

What marine industries exist in your GeoArea? (Q10)
Survey respondents were asked to select all the marine industries in their GeoArea from a list of the following options: fisheries & aquaculture, marine transportation, tourism, conservation & protection, offshore oil & gas, safety & surveillance, marine construction, marine research & development, ocean renewable energy, deep-sea mining, or none of the above; they were also allowed to enter free-text if a marine industry in their GeoArea was not an option.

Figure 13

Marine Industries: Survey
Percent of survey respondents for each region who indicated that each marine industry was present in their GeoArea. Industries included: fisheries & aquaculture (Fish Aqua), marine transportation (Trans), tourism (Tour), conservation & protection (Cons Prot), offshore oil & gas (Oil Gas), safety & surveillance (Safety Surv), research & development (R&D), renewable energy (Renew Energy), deep-sea mining (Deep Mining), or Other.

The majority of respondents selected fisheries & aquaculture (95%) and marine transportation (88%), also the two most commonly found industries found in our research (Figure 13).

We found the most significant differences in research and survey results for conservation & protection, marine R&D, marine construction, and safety & surveillance; significantly more of these industries were found in research than identified by survey respondents. Conversely, respondents selected deep-sea mining and offshore oil & gas considerably more than the number of such active industries found through research.

Other types of industries listed by respondents included mining on the continental shelf (Africa), seafloor cabling for energy and communication (Asia and Americas), tidal energy and biofuel (Asia), steelworks, and small boat building (Oceania), ocean-based carbon capture (Americas). Several respondents for Asia and Oceania noted that while deep-sea mining does not currently exist in their GeoArea, it is a "big center of interest for the government," that the "deep sea urgently needs protection here," and "deep-sea mining is in the process of being started or discussed."

7. Vessels

7.1 Highlights

  • Importance | Seventy-nine percent of respondents globally considered ships and vessels important for their work.

  • Presence | Fishing vessels were the most present, followed by recreational vessels. Cruise and research vessels were the least present types of vessels found in all regions.

  • Access | The most accessible vessels globally were research vessels, followed by fishing vessels. More than a quarter of respondents reported having no access to vessels.

  • Satisfaction | Respondents were split in opinion on vessel operation in their GeoArea. Respondents for Europe, Asia, and Northern America were generally satisfied with vessel operation, while respondents for Africa, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean were generally dissatisfied.

  • Potential Impact | Sixty-six percent of respondents globally reported that increased access to vessels would have a high impact or would be transformative for their work.

7.2 Vessel Importance

How important are ships/vessels for your work? (Q11)
Respondents were asked how important ships and vessels were for their work on a five-point scale from not important to very important.

Figure 14

Vessels: Importance
Number of survey respondents for each region who considered vessels very important or important (green) to little or not important (blue) for their work.

Most respondents worldwide (79%) considered ships and vessels important for their work (Figure 14). 

Across all regions globally, 79-91% of respondents considered ships and vessels important or very important.

7.3 Vessel Presence: Research Results

What types of vessels are present in each GeoArea? (Q12R)
We researched the types of vessels present in each GeoArea, specifically if the GeoArea had research, fishing, cruise ships, recreational, traditional, or navy vessels. We recorded the presence or absence of each type of vessel, with presence meaning that at least one vessel of a given type was present in the GeoArea.

Globally, fishing vessels were the most present, found in 165 GeoAreas (91%), followed by recreational vessels, present in 159 GeoAreas (88%). Cruise and research vessels were the least present, found in 104 GeoAreas (57%) (Figure 15A). 

Figure 15

Vessels: Presence
(A)
Percent of GeoAreas in each region in which each type of vessel was found through research: research vessels, fishing vessels, recreational vessels (Rec), traditional vessels (Trad), cruise ships (Cruise), or navy vessels (Navy). (B) Number of GeoAreas worldwide with each Vessel Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index. High Vessel DSCPIs indicate higher diversity of vessel types present in each GeoArea.


The most common vessel types varied for different regions. In Europe and Northern America, fishing and recreational vessels were the most commonly found type of vessels. In Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean, fishing vessels were the most common. In Asia and Oceania, recreational vessels were the most common. 

The Vessel Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index (Vessel DSCPI) assessed the research-based presence of certain vessel types in each GeoArea; higher values indicate higher diversity of vessel types present in each GeoArea. Using the Vessel DSCPI, we found that vessels were the technical capacity with the most extensive presence worldwide. Ninety-seven GeoAreas (54%) had the maximum Vessel DSCPI of 5 (i.e., many types of vessels were present); five GeoAreas (3%) had the minimum Vessel DSCPI of 1 (Figure 15B). Africa and Europe had the most types of vessels; 70% of their GeoAreas had a Vessel DSCPI of 5. Latin America & the Caribbean had the fewest types of vessels present, with the largest percentage of GeoAreas with a Vessel DSCPI of 1 (8%) and the lowest percentage with a Vessel DSCPI of (32%). Africa, Europe, Northern America, and Oceania had no GeoAreas with a Vessel DSCPI of 1.

Other types of vessels identified through research included cargo vessels, tug boats, oil tankers, diving, drilling, and cable layer vessels.

7.4 Vessel Access: Survey Results

What kinds of vessels do you have access to for deep-sea work? (Q12/13)
Respondents were asked to select all types of vessels to which they had access for deep-sea work from a list of the following options: research vessels, fishing vessels, cruise ships, recreational vessels, traditional vessels, or none of the above; they were also allowed to enter free-text if a type of vessel to which they had access was not an option.

The most accessible vessels globally were research vessels (available to 51% of respondents), followed by fishing vessels (available to 38%) (Figure 16A). Ninety-five respondents (26%) reported having no access to vessels. While vessels were the technical capacity with the most extensive presence worldwide, in general, vessels were the technical capacity to which respondents had the second-lowest access

In Europe, Asia, Northern America, and Latin America & the Caribbean, respondents had the most access to research vessels. In Africa and Oceania, respondents had the most access to fishing vessels. Twenty percent of respondents for Asia and 32% of respondents for Latin America & the Caribbean reported having no access to vessels. 

Figure 16

Vessels: Access
(A)
Percent of respondents for each region with access to each type of vessel: research vessels, fishing vessels, recreational vessels (Rec), traditional vessels (Trad), cruise ships (Cruise), other, or none of the above. (B) Number of subregions worldwide with each Vessel Deep-Sea Capacity Accessibility Index. High Vessel DSCAIs indicate higher respondent-reported access to vessels in their GeoArea.


The Vessel Deep Sea Capacity Accessibility Index (Vessel DSCAI) assessed the respondent-reported access to different types of vessels in each subregion; higher values indicate higher access to more types of vessels. From the Vessel DSCAI (Figure 16B), we found that no subregions had the maximum Vessel DSCAI of 5. The highest Vessel DSCAI was 4 for Polynesia, followed by 3 for Northern and Southern Europe. The lowest was 1 for South America and Western Europe, meaning that respondents in those subregions had access to the fewest types of vessels. The Vessel DSCAI values found in all other regions was 2. We note the high level of access to research vessels in Europe, Asia, and Northern America, which is important for deep-sea operations, and the high availability of different types of vessels in Polynesia, which could be an opportunity for researchers moving forward.

7.5 Vessel Satisfaction

How well do the vessels meet your needs? (Q14)
Respondents were asked how satisfied they were with vessels in their GeoArea in terms of cost, availability, capabilities, size, and duration, each on a five-point scale from very dissatisfied to very satisfied. Out of 360 total respondents, 305-314 answered these questions (85-87% response rate). 

Respondents for Europe, Asia, and Northern America were generally satisfied with vessel operation at a rate of 46-59%. Respondents for Africa, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean were generally dissatisfied with vessel operation at a rate of 48-51% (Figure 17A). Respondents were split in opinion on vessel operation in their GeoArea. Overall, 46% of respondents were satisfied with vessel size. They were split in opinion on vessel cost and duration and dissatisfied with vessel availability and capabilities (Figure 17B-F). 

Figure 17

Vessels: Satisfaction
Number of respondents for each region who are satisfied (green) or dissatisfied (blue) with all aspects of vessels available to them in their GeoArea (A). Number of respondents for each region who are satisfied (green) to dissatisfied (blue) with each of the aspects of vessel operation: Cost (B), Availability (C), Capabilities (D), Size (E), and Duration (F).

Figure 18

Vessels: Satisfaction
Number of subregions worldwide with each Vessel Deep-Sea Capacity Satisfaction Index. High Vessel DSCSIs indicate high respondent-reported satisfaction with the vessels to which they have access.

The Vessel Deep Sea Capacity Satisfaction Index (Vessel DSCSI) assessed the respondent-reported satisfaction of vessels based on several factors, including cost, availability, and capabilities in each subregion; higher values indicate more overall satisfaction with vessels to which respondents had access. Vessels were the technical capacity with which respondents were second-most satisfied after sensor systems. From the Vessel DSCSI (Figure 18), we found that three subregions, Eastern Asia, Northern Europe, and Western Europe, had the highest vessel DSCSI of 5, and Northern America had a vessel DSCSI of 4, meaning respondents for these subregions were the most satisfied with the vessels to which they had access. Seven subregions, including three in Africa and one each in the other regions except Northern America, had a vessel DSCSI of 1, meaning that respondents for those subregions were the least satisfied with the vessels to which they had access.

One of the most important factors respondents from multiple regions noted as impacting how well vessels in their GeoArea met their needs was the age and safety of vessels. Other considerations were technical: availability of ports and safe harbor, the expense of operation, access to spare parts, and limited access to the vessels themselves. Additional factors included the high cost of operation and low funding levels, lack of national infrastructure and coordination, excessive planning time, and difficulty for new scientists to gain access.

7.6 Potential Impact of Increased Vessel Access

What is the potential impact of increased access to vessels? (Q15)
Respondents were asked what impact increased access to vessels would have on their work on a five-point scale from no impact to transformative.

Figure 19

Vessels: Potential Impact
Number of respondents for each region who said that increased access to vessels would have a high or transformative impact (green) or little to no impact (blue) on their work.

Overall, 66% of respondents reported that increased access to vessels would have a high impact or be transformative (Figure 19). 

The majority of respondents for all regions reported that increased access to vessels would have a large impact on them: 67% of respondents for Europe, 64% for Asia, 71% for Northern America, 61% for Africa, 65% for Oceania, and 70% for Latin America & the Caribbean. Twenty-two respondents (6%) reported that there would be no impact on their work with increased access to vessels.

8. Deep Submergence Vehicles

8.1 Highlights

  • Importance | Sixty-five percent of respondents globally considered DSVs important for their work.

  • Presence | Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) were the most present DSVs globally, followed by Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and benthic landers. Towsleds were the least present type of DSV found.

  • Access | The most accessible DSVs were ROVs, followed by AUVs and benthic landers. Less than half of respondents globally reported having no access to DSVs. 

  • Depth Rating | Sixty-five percent of the DSVs to which respondents had access could operate deeper than 200 mbsl. Half of the DSVs accessible to respondents for Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean could not operate deeper than 200 mbsl. In contrast, in Northern America, 44% of reported DSVs could operate deeper than 4,000 mbsl. 

  • Satisfaction | Respondents globally were generally dissatisfied with available DSVs. Respondents in Europe and Northern America were satisfied with DSVs in their GeoArea. Asia, Africa, Oceania, Latin America & the Caribbean respondents were dissatisfied with the DSVs to which they had access. 

  • Potential Impact | Seventy-one percent of respondents globally reported that increased access to DSVs would significantly impact or be transformative for their work. 

8.2 DSV Importance

How important are deep submergence vehicles (DSVs) for your work? (Q17)
Respondents were asked how important DSVs were for their work on a five-point scale from not important to very important.

Figure 20

DSVs: Importance
Number of survey respondents for each region who considered DSVs very important or important (green) to little or not important (blue) for their work.

Overall, 65% of respondents globally considered DSVs important or very important for their work (Figure 20). 

Respondents for Europe and Northern America considered DSVs most important for their work (73-82%), followed by Africa and Asia (68-69%), and Oceania and Latin America & the Caribbean (43-53%). Forty-six respondents (13%) considered DSVs not important for their work.

8.3 DSV Presence: Research Results

What types of DSVs are present in each GeoArea? (Q18R)
We researched the types of DSVs present in each GeoArea, specifically if the GeoArea had remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), human-occupied vehicles (HOVs), benthic landers, drifters, or towsleds. We recorded the presence or absence of each type of DSV, with presence meaning that at least one vehicle of a given type was present in the GeoArea.

ROVs were the most common DSV type found, present in 92 GeoAreas (51%), and the most common type of DSV in all regions, except for Northern America, which also had a high presence of AUVs, HOVs, and drifters. AUVs were the second-most common globally, found in 54 GeoAreas (30%). Towsleds were the least common, found in 28 GeoAreas (15%) (Figure 21A).

Figure 21

DSVs: Presence
(A)
Percent of GeoAreas in each region in which each type of DSV was found through research: remotely operated vehicles (ROV), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), benthic landers (Lander), drifters, towsleds, and human-occupied vehicles (HOV). (B) Number of GeoAreas worldwide with each DSV Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index. High DSV DSCPIs indicate higher diversity of DSV types present in each GeoArea.


The DSV Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index (DSV DSCPI) assessed the research-based presence of types of DSVs in each GeoArea; higher values indicate higher diversity of DSV types present in each GeoArea. Using the DSV DSCPI (Figure 21B), 101 GeoAreas (56%) had the minimum DSV DSCPI of 1 (i.e., few types of DSV were present), and only 15 GeoAreas (8%) had the maximum DSV DSCPI of 5. The region with the highest DSV diversity per GeoArea was Northern America, with 40% of its five GeoAreas having a DSV DSCPI of 5. Africa and Latin America & the Caribbean had the lowest DSV diversity with the largest percentage of GeoAreas with a DSV DSCPI of 1 (70 and 77%, respectively) and the lowest percentage with a DSV DSCPI of 5 (0 and 2%, respectively). DSVs were the technical capacity with the lowest presence worldwide. 

8.4 DSV Access: Survey Results

What kinds of DSVs do you have access to for deep-sea work? (Q18)
Respondents were asked to select all types of DSVs to which they had access for deep-sea work from a list of the following options: remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), human-occupied vehicles (HOVs), benthic landers, drifters, towsled, or none of the above; they were also allowed to enter free-text if a type of DSV to which they had access was not an option.

The most accessible DSVs were ROVs (available to 41% of respondents), followed by AUVs (available to 24%), and benthic landers (21%). One hundred fifty-nine respondents (44%) reported having no access to DSVs (Figure 22A). 

Figure 22

DSVs: Access
(A)
Percent of respondents for each region with access to each type of DSV: remotely operated vehicles (ROV), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), benthic landers (Lander), drifters, towsleds, and human-occupied vehicles (HOV), other, and none of the above. (B) Number of subregions worldwide with each DSV Deep-Sea Capacity Accessibility Index. High DSV DSCAIs indicate higher respondent-reported access to DSVs in their GeoArea.


In Europe, Asia, Northern America, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean, respondents had the most access to ROVs. Access rates varied significantly by region, however. In Europe and Northern America, 79-82% of respondents had access to ROVs, and 24-49% of respondents for Asia, Africa, and Latin America & the Caribbean had access to them. In Oceania, 22% of respondents had access to benthic landers. Respondents for Africa and Oceania had the least access to DSVs overall, with 59-65% reporting that they had no access to DSVs.

The DSV Deep Sea Capacity Accessibility Index (DSV DSCAI) assessed the respondent-reported access to different types of DSVs in each subregion; higher values indicate higher access to more types of DSVs. From the DSV DSCAI (Figure 22B), we found that none of the subregions had the highest DSV DSCAI of 5, meaning that none of the respondents had access to most types of DSVs. The highest DSV DSCAI was 4 for Northern America and Northern and Western Europe. The lowest DSV DSCAI was 1 for thirteen subregions (62% of all subregions), particularly in Africa, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean, meaning respondents in those subregions had access to the fewest types of DSVs. DSVs were the technical capacity to which respondents had the lowest access worldwide. 

What is the approximate depth range of DSVs in your GeoArea? (Q19)
Respondents were asked to select the approximate depth range of the DSVs to which they had access from a list of the following options: 0-200 m, 0-1,000 m, 0-2,000 m, 0-4,000 m, >4,000 m, or not applicable.

Two hundred three respondents reported on the depth capabilities of 570 vehicles, 65% of which could operate in waters deeper than 200 mbsl (Figure 23). 

Figure 23

DSVs: Depth Rating
Number of deep submergence vehicles to which respondents reported access, shown by region (A) and depth zone (B). Selection counts include all types of DSVs to which respondents reported access: ROVS, AUVs, landers, drifters, towsleds, and HOVs.


In Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean, 48-56% of reported DSVs operated at depths shallower than 200 mbsl. In Europe, 38% of reported DSVs operated to 4,000 mbsl. In Northern America, 44% of reported DSVs operated deeper than 4,000 mbsl. 

8.5 DSV Satisfaction

How well do the DSVs meet your needs? (Q20)
Respondents were asked how satisfied they were with DSVs in their GeoArea in terms of cost, availability, capabilities, depth rating, and duration, each on a five-point scale from very dissatisfied to very satisfied. Out of 360 total respondents, 192-201 answered these questions (53-56% response rate). 

Respondents globally were generally dissatisfied with DSVs available to them (Figure 24).

Figure 24

DSVs: Satisfaction
Number of respondents for each region who are satisfied (green) or dissatisfied (blue) with all aspects of DSVs available to them in their GeoArea (A). Number of respondents for each region who are satisfied (green) to dissatisfied (blue) with each of the aspects of DSV operation: Cost (B), Availability (C), Capabilities (D), Depth rating (E), and Duration (F).


In Europe and Northern America, 56-64% of respondents were satisfied with DSVs in their GeoArea. In Asia and Africa, respondents were more neutral to dissatisfied with DSVs. Respondents in Oceania and Latin America & the Caribbean were the least satisfied; 64-73% expressed dissatisfaction with DSVs (Figure 24A). Globally, respondents were dissatisfied with DSV cost and availability (48-52% dissatisfied) (Figure 24B-C). They were more split in opinion on capabilities, depth rating, and duration, with 36-41% satisfaction and 39-41% dissatisfaction with those factors (Figure 24D-F). 

Figure 25

DSVs: Satisfaction
Number of subregions worldwide with each DSV Deep-Sea Capacity Satisfaction Index. High DSV DSCSIs indicate high respondent-reported satisfaction with the DSVs to which they have access.

The DSV Deep Sea Capacity Satisfaction Index (DSV DSCSI) assessed the respondent-reported satisfaction of DSVs based on several factors, including cost, DSV, and capabilities in each subregion; higher values indicate more overall satisfaction with DSVs to which respondents had access. From the DSV DSCSI, we found that only one of the 21 subregions, Northern Europe, had the highest DSV DSCSI of 5; respondents for this subregion were the most satisfied with the DSVs to which they had access (Figure 25). Northern America and Western and Southern Europe had DSV DSCSIs of 4, indicating high satisfaction with DSVs. Eastern Africa, Melanesia, and the Caribbean had a DSV DSCSI of 1, meaning respondents for those subregions were the least satisfied with the DSVs to which they had access. Along with data tools, DSVs were the technical capacity with which respondents were the least satisfied. 

Factors that respondents noted had an impact on how well DSVs in their GeoArea met their needs included: low availability of DSVs, low availability of trained personnel to operate and maintain them, and lack of vessel support required to operate DSVs.

8.6 Potential Impact of Increased Access to DSVs

What is the potential impact of increased access to DSVs in your GeoArea? (Q21)
Respondents were asked what impact increased access to DSVs would have on their work on a five-point scale from no impact to transformative.

Figure 26

DSVs: Potential Impact
Number of respondents for each region who said that increased access to DSVs would have a high or transformative impact (green) or little to no impact (blue) on their work.

Globally, 71% of respondents reported that increased access to DSVs would have a high impact or be transformative for their work (Figure 26).

Responses were consistently high across all regions, with 70% of respondents for Europe, 72% for Asia, 89% for Northern America, 70% for Africa, 70% for Oceania, and 66% for Latin America & the Caribbean reporting that increased access to DSVs would have a high impact or would be transformative for their work. Thirty respondents (8%) responded that there would be no impact on their work with increased DSV access.

"We don't have an underwater observation vehicle given their acquisition cost and expertise. Nevertheless, we are currently developing underwater observation sensors using Raspberry Pi and Arduino microcomputers, for a short time collecting data on the state of the marine environment." --Respondent for Benin, Western Africa


9. Sensor Systems

9.1 Highlights

  • Importance | Seventy-one percent of respondents globally consider deep-sea sensing systems important for their work.

  • Presence | Water sampling systems were the most common type of sensors found globally, followed by navigation systems. Genetic sensors for eDNA were the least present type.

  • Access | The most accessible sensor systems were CTDs and water sampling systems, followed by chemical sensors. One-quarter of respondents reported having no access to deep-sea sensors. 

  • Satisfaction | Globally, respondents were generally satisfied with deep-sea sensors in their GeoArea. Most respondents were satisfied with sensor systems in Europe, Asia, Northern America, and Oceania. In contrast, respondents for Africa were split in opinion, and respondents for Latin America & the Caribbean were dissatisfied. 

  • Potential Impact | Seventy-two percent of respondents globally reported that increased access to deep-sea sensor systems would have a high impact or would be transformative for their work. 

9.2 Sensor System Importance

How important are deep-sea sensors for your work? (Q23)
Respondents were asked how important deep-sea sensors were for their work on a five-point scale from not important to very important.

Figure 27

Sensors: Importance
Number of survey respondents for each region who considered sensors very important or important (green) to little or not important (blue) for their work.

On average, 71% of respondents consider deep-sea sensor systems important to very important for their work (Figure 27). 

The majority of respondents for all regions considered deep-sea sensors important to very important for their work; 67% of respondents for Europe, 79% for Asia, 84% for Northern America, 77% for Africa, 57% for Oceania, and 58% for Latin America & the Caribbean. Twenty-nine respondents (8%) considered deep-sea sensors of little importance or not important for their work.

9.3 Sensor System Presence: Research Results

What types of deep-sea sensor systems are present in each GeoArea? (Q24R)
We researched the types of sensor systems present in each GeoArea, specifically if the GeoArea had CTDs, chemical sensors (e.g. O2, pH, eH), water sampling systems, navigation systems, seafloor mapping systems, or imaging systems. We recorded the presence or absence of each type of sensor system, with presence meaning that at least one sensor system of a given type was present in the GeoArea.

Water sampling systems were the most common sensor systems found globally, present in 107 GeoAreas (59%), followed by navigation systems in 105 GeoAreas (58%). Environmental DNA systems were the least common, found in only 60 GeoAreas (33%) (Figure 28A). 

Figure 28

Sensors: Presence
(A)
Percent of GeoAreas in each region in which each type of sensor system was found through research: CTDs, water sampling systems (Water), chemical sensors (Chem), seafloor mapping systems (Map), imaging systems (Image), navigation systems (Nav), and environmental DNA sensors (eDNA). (B) Number of GeoAreas worldwide with each Sensor Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index. High Sensor DSCPIs indicate higher diversity of sensor types present in each GeoArea.


The most common sensor types varied for different regions. In Europe and Asia, CTDs were the most commonly found sensor system. In Northern America, CTDs, imaging, navigation systems, and chemical sensors were all found in 60% of GeoAreas. In Africa and Oceania, navigation systems were most commonly found, and water sampling systems were the most common in Latin America & the Caribbean. 

Sensors were a technical capacity that had limited presence worldwide. The Sensor Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index (Sensor DSCPI) assessed the research-based presence of types of sensors in each GeoArea; higher values indicate higher diversity of sensor types present in each GeoArea. Using the Sensor DSCPI, we found that 50 GeoAreas (28%) had the maximum Sensor DSCPI of 5 (i.e., many types of sensor systems were present) and 55 GeoAreas (31%) had the minimum Sensor DSCPI of 1 (Figure 28B). Europe had 70% of its 23 GeoAreas with a Sensor DSCPI of 5 and only 9% with a Sensor DSCPI of 1, making it the region with the highest diversity of sensor systems present followed by Northern America. Africa had the lowest diversity of sensor systems present, with the largest percentage of GeoAreas with a Sensor DSCPI of 1 (52%) and the lowest percentage with a Sensor DSCPI of 5 (14%). 

9.4 Sensor System Access: Survey Results

What kinds of deep-sea sensors do you have access to for deep-sea work? (Q24)
Respondents were asked to select all types of sensor systems to which they had access for deep-sea work from a list of the following options: CTDs, chemical sensors (e.g., O2, pH, eH), imaging systems, water sampling, navigation, seafloor mapping, or none of the above; they were also allowed to enter free-text if a type of sensor system to which they had access was not an option.

The most accessible sensor systems were CTDs and water sampling systems (available to 57% of respondents), followed by chemical sensors (e.g., O2, pH, eH) (available to 54% of respondents). Ninety-one respondents (25%) reported having no access to deep-sea sensors (Figure 29A). 

Figure 29

Sensors: Access
(A)
Percent of respondents for each region with access to each type of sensor system: CTDs, water sampling systems (Water), chemical sensors (Chem), seafloor mapping systems (Map), imaging systems (Image), navigation systems (Nav), and environmental DNA sensors (eDNA), other, and none of the above. (B) Number of subregions worldwide with each Sensor Deep-Sea Capacity Accessibility Index. High Sensor DSCAIs indicate higher respondent-reported access to sensor systems in their GeoArea.


In Europe, Asia, and Northern America, respondents had the most access to CTDs, while respondents for Africa, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean had the most access to water sampling systems. In Oceania and Latin America & the Caribbean, 30-47% of respondents reported having no access to deep-sea sensors.

The Sensor Deep Sea Capacity Accessibility Index (Sensor DSCAI) assessed the respondent-reported access to different types of sensors in each subregion; higher values indicate higher access to more types of sensors. From the Sensor DSCAI (Figure 29B), we found that two subregions (10%), Northern America and Northern Europe, had the highest Sensor DSCAI of 5, meaning respondents for those subregions had access to the most types of sensor systems. The next highest Sensor DSCAI was 4 for Australia & New Zealand, Western and Eastern Asia, and Southern and Eastern Europe. Only two subregions (10%), Polynesia and Micronesia in Oceania, had the lowest Sensor DSCAI of 1, meaning respondents in those subregions had access to the fewest types of sensor systems. Sensor systems were the technical capacity to which respondents had the second-highest level of access. 

9.5 Sensor System Satisfaction

How well do deep-sea sensors meet your needs? (Q25)
Respondents were asked how satisfied they were with deep-sea sensor systems in their GeoArea in terms of cost, availability, capabilities, depth rating, ease of use, and accuracy, each on a five-point scale from very dissatisfied to very satisfied. Out of 360 total respondents, 242-253 answered these questions (67-70% response rate). 

Globally, 45% of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with deep-sea sensors in their GeoArea. In Europe, Asia, Northern America, and Oceania, 41-66% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with sensor systems in their GeoArea. Respondents for Africa were split in opinion, and 47% of respondents for Latin America & the Caribbean were dissatisfied with sensor systems (Figure 30A). Overall, 46-53% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with sensor system accuracy, capabilities, depth rating, and ease of use (Figure 30D-F). They were split in opinion on cost and availability (Figure 30B-C). 

Figure 30

Sensors: Satisfaction
Number of respondents for each region who are satisfied (green) or dissatisfied (blue) with all aspects of sensors available to them in their GeoArea (A). Number of respondents for each region who are satisfied (green) to dissatisfied (blue) with each of the aspects of sensor operation: Cost (B), Availability (C), Capabilities (D), Depth rating (E), Ease of Use (F), and Accuracy (G).

Figure 31

Sensors: Satisfaction
Number of subregions worldwide with each Sensor Deep-Sea Capacity Satisfaction Index. High Sensor DSCSIs indicate high respondent-reported satisfaction with the sensor systems to which they have access.

The Sensor Deep Sea Capacity Satisfaction Index (Sensor DSCSI) assessed the respondent-reported satisfaction of sensors based on several factors, including cost, availability, and capabilities in each subregion; higher values indicate more overall satisfaction with sensors to which respondents had access. From the Sensor DSCSI (Figure 31), we found three subregions, Eastern Asia, Northern Europe, and Eastern Europe, had the highest Sensor DSCSI of 5; respondents for these subregions were the most satisfied with the sensor systems to which they had access. There were also five subregions with a Sensor DSCSI of 4: Southeastern Asia, Northern America, Polynesia, and Western and Southern Europe. Only one subregion, the Caribbean, had the lowest Sensor DSCSI of 1; respondents were the least satisfied with the sensor systems to which they had access. Sensors were the technical capacity with the highest general satisfaction across regions. 

Factors respondents noted that impacted how well deep-sea sensors in their GeoArea met their needs included technical considerations such as access to calibration, the acquisition and import of parts, and instrument maintenance and repair. Other factors included the lack of availability of sensor systems, lack of technical expertise, internal bureaucracy, and customs taxes on imports.

9.6 Potential Impact of Increased Access to Sensors

What is the potential impact of increased access to deep-sea sensors? (Q26)
Respondents were asked what impact increased access to deep-sea sensors would have on their work on a five-point scale from no impact to transformative.

Figure 32

Sensors: Potential Impact
Number of respondents for each region who said that increased access to sensor systems would have a high or transformative impact (green) or little to no impact (blue) on their work.

Overall, 72% of respondents reported that increased access to deep-sea sensor systems would have a high impact or be transformative for their work (Figure 32). 

Responses were consistently high across all regions, with 70% of respondents for Europe, 73% for Asia, 68% for Northern America, 77% for Africa, 74% for Oceania, and 68% for Latin America & the Caribbean reporting that increased access would result in high/transformative impact. Twenty-two respondents globally (6%) reported there would be no impact on their work with increased access to deep-sea sensor systems.

10. Data Tools

10.1 Highlights

  • Importance | Eighty-eight percent of respondents globally reported data tools were important to very important for their work.

  • Presence | Geographic information systems (GIS) was the most present data tool, followed by cloud computing and data management. Genomic sequencing tools were the least present.

  • Access | The most accessible data tools were GIS, data management tools, and data storage capacity. Less than 20% of respondents globally reported having no access to any of the listed data tools. 

  • Satisfaction | Globally, respondents were generally satisfied with data tools in their GeoArea. In Europe, Asia, Northern America, and Oceania, most respondents were satisfied with the data tools. In contrast, respondents for Africa were split in opinion and dissatisfied in Latin America & the Caribbean.

  • Potential Impact | Seventy-six percent of respondents globally reported that increased access to data tools would significantly impact or be transformative for their work. 

10.2 Data Tools Importance

How important are data analysis & access tools for your work? (Q28)
Respondents were asked how important data tools were for their work on a five-point scale from not important to very important.

Figure 33

Data Tools: Importance
Number of survey respondents for each region who considered data tools very important or important (green) to little or not important (blue) for their work.

On average, 88% of respondents for Asia reported data tools as important to very important for their work (Figure 33). 

The majority of respondents for all subregions considered data tools important to very important for their work; 79% of respondents for Europe, 92% of respondents for Asia, 95% for Northern America, 86% for Africa, 78% for Oceania, and 88% for Latin America & the Caribbean. Only seven respondents worldwide (2%) considered data tools a little or not important for their work.

10.3 Data Tools Presence: Research Results

What type of data analysis & access tools are present in each GeoArea? (Q29R)
We researched the types of data tools present in each GeoArea, specifically if the GeoArea had geographic information systems (GIS), data management tools, data storage capacity, data visualization tools, machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI), cloud computing, and/or genomic sequencing tools. We recorded the presence or absence of each type of data tool, with presence meaning that at least one data tool of a given type was present in the GeoArea.

Globally, GIS was the most present data tool, found in 159 GeoAreas (88%), followed by data management and cloud computing tools, present in 130 GeoAreas (72%). Genomic sequencing tools were the least present, found in 102 GeoAreas (56%) (Figure 34A). 

Figure 34

Data Tools: Presence
(A)
Percent of GeoAreas in each region in which each type of data tool was found through research: GIS, data management tools (Mgt), data storage tools (Storage), data visualization tools (Viz), cloud computing (Cloud), genomic sequencing (Genome), and machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI). (B) Number of GeoAreas worldwide with each Data Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index. High Data DSCPIs indicate higher diversity of data tool types present in each GeoArea.


GIS was the most commonly found type of data tool in Northern America, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean. The most common data tool type in Europe was cloud computing, and in Asia, all GeoAreas had ML/AI. 

The Data Deep-Sea Capacity Presence Index (Data DSCPI) assessed the research-based presence of types of data tools in each GeoArea; higher values indicate higher diversity of data tool types present in each GeoArea. Using the Data DSCPI (Figure 34B), we found that 80 GeoAreas (44%) had the maximum Data DSCPI of 5 (i.e., many types of data tools were present), and only 12 GeoAreas (7%) had the minimum Data DSCPI of 1. Europe and Asia had 78% and 70% of their GeoAreas with a Data DSCPI of 5 and none with a Data DSCPI of 1, making them the regions with the highest data tool presence, followed by Northern America. Oceania was the region with the lowest data tool presence with the lowest percentage of GeoAreas with a Data DSCPI of 5 (18%) and the second-largest percentage with a Data DSCPI of 1 (14%). Data tools were the second most present technical capacity worldwide. 

10.4 Data Tools Access: Survey Results

What kinds of data analysis & access tools do you have access to? (Q29)
Respondents were asked to select all types of data tools to which they had access for deep-sea work from a list of the following options: cloud computing, data management tools, data storage capacity, data visualization tools, genomic sequencing, geographic information systems (GIS), machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI), or none of the above; they were also allowed to enter free-text if a type of data tool to which they had access was not an option.

The most accessible data tools were GIS (available to 77% of respondents), followed by data management tools (56%), and data storage capacity (55%) (Figure 35A). Sixty-nine respondents (19%) reported having no access to any of the listed data tools or did not know what data tools were available to them.

GIS was the most accessible data tool type in Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America & the Caribbean. In Northern America, most respondents had access to data management tools, data storage capacity, and data visualization tools, and access was generally high for all data tool types. ML/AI was the least accessible data tool worldwide.

Figure 35

Data Tools: Access
(A)
Percent of respondents for each region with access to each type of data tool: GIS, data management tools (Mgt), data storage tools (Storage), data visualization tools (Viz), cloud computing (Cloud), genomic sequencing (Genome), machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI), other, and none of the above. (B) Number of subregions worldwide with each Data Deep-Sea Capacity Accessibility Index. High Data DSCAIs indicate higher respondent-reported access to data tools in their GeoArea.


The Data Deep Sea Capacity Accessibility Index (Data DSCAI) assessed the respondent-reported access to different types of data tools in each subregion; higher values indicate higher access to more types of data tools. From the Data DSCAI (Figure 35B), we found four subregions, Australia & New Zealand, Northern America, and Northern and Eastern Europe had the highest Data DSCAI of 5; respondents in these subregions had access to the most types of data tools. The next highest Data DSCAI was 4 in Eastern and Southeastern Asia. One subregion, Micronesia in Oceania, had the lowest Data DSCAI of 1; respondents there had access to the fewest types of data tools. Globally, data tools were the technical capacity to which respondents had the highest access. 

10.5 Data Tools Satisfaction

How well do data analysis & access tools meet your needs? (Q30)
Respondents were asked how satisfied they were with data tools in their GeoArea in terms of cost, availability, capabilities, ease of use, and bandwidth, each on a five-point scale from very dissatisfied to very satisfied. Out of 360 respondents, 300-308 answered these questions (83-86% response rate). 

Globally, 43% of respondents were satisfied with data tools in their GeoArea. In Europe, Asia, Northern America, and Oceania, 49-69% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with data tools. In Latin America & the Caribbean, 45% of respondents were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with data tools. Respondents for Africa were split in opinion on data tools in their GeoArea (Figure 36A). Overall, 44-49% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with all data tool capabilities and ease of use; they were split in opinion on availability, bandwidth, and cost (Figure 36B-F).

Figure 36

Data Tools: Satisfaction
Number of respondents for each region who are satisfied (green) or dissatisfied (blue) with all aspects of data tools available to them in their GeoArea (A). Number of respondents for each region who are satisfied (green) to dissatisfied (blue) with each of the aspects of data tool operation: Cost (B), Availability (C), Capabilities (D), Ease of Use (E), and Bandwidth (F).

Figure 37

Data Tools: Satisfaction
Number of subregions worldwide with each Data Deep-Sea Capacity Satisfaction Index. High Data DSCSIs indicate high respondent-reported satisfaction with the data tools to which they have access.

The Data Deep Sea Capacity Satisfaction Index (Data DSCSI) assessed the respondent-reported satisfaction with data tools based on several factors, Data cost, availability, and capabilities in each subregion; higher values indicate more overall satisfaction with data tools to which respondents had access. From the Data DSCSI, we found only two subregions, Northern and Eastern Europe, had the highest Data DSCSI of 5 (Figure 37); respondents for these subregions were the most satisfied with the data tools to which they have access. Six subregions, Polynesia, South America, the Caribbean, and Western, Middle, and Southern Africa, had a Data DSCSI of 1; respondents for those subregions were the least satisfied with the data tools to which they had access. While presence and access to data tools were generally high, respondents globally were the least satisfied with these tools. 

Respondents from multiple regions noted that unstable and unreliable internet availability with low speed and a high cost was a significant factor that affected their data tool use. Respondents from multiple regions reported opportunities for data tools, including data sharing, open-access tools, regional partnerships, and infrastructure for increased archiving and management. They also noted that these would require long-term funding and technical training to support.

10.6 Potential Impact of Increased Access to Data Tools

What is the potential impact of increased access to data analysis & access tools in your GeoArea? (Q31)
Respondents were asked what impact increased access to data tools would have on their work on a five-point scale from no impact to transformative.

Figure 38

Data Tools: Potential Impact
Number of respondents for each region who said that increased access to data tools would have a high or transformative impact (green) or little to no impact (blue) on their work.

Overall, 76% of respondents reported that increased access to data tools would have a high impact or be transformative for their work (Figure 38). 

Responses were consistently high across all regions, with 48% of respondents for Europe, 73% for Asia, 79% for Northern America, 81% for Africa, 70% for Oceania, and 81% for Latin America & the Caribbean reporting that increased access would result in high or transformative impact. Seventeen respondents globally (5%) reported that there would be no impact on their work with increased access to data tools.

“Offline edge-computing capable systems can help to mitigate the poor Internet connectivity and coverage. Reducing the gap between data acquisition nodes and data processing nodes increases the deliverables' quality and reduces time-to-deliver.” —Respondent for Venezuela, South America

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