Plenary Speakers

Technologies and Sensors for Next Generation Underwater Exploration

James A.R. McFarlane

Abstract :Research in the world’s oceans is no longer a matter of curiosity, it is imperative to the future understanding of the planet we call home. Humankind has imparted unfathomable pressure on what is the foundation of the existence of life on earth. Over fishing, ocean dumping, pollution, ocean acidification, Inter Alia have all contributed to the extreme pressures our oceans are facing. The use of diverse technology to research this critical component of our existence is of paramount importance. Development of advanced sensing or visualization sub-systems are maturing and evolving. These new sensors and samplers are providing us with insights into the ocean realms that were not possible only a few years ago. The development of new tools and technologies must continue just as the research into the depths of our oceans needs to expand. This is critical to the survival of the planet and we will explore the utilization of different vehicle types to accomplish diverse research requirements.


James A.R. McFarlane

James A.R. McFarlane joined International Submarine Engineering Ltd. (ISE) in September of 2011 as Executive Vice President.

His early career was spent manufacturing underwater vehicles at ISE in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. He then worked at sea in the offshore oil and gas industry in Canada, Norway, Scotland and the United States operating Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) for various international commercial diving companies. In 1987 he joined Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) as Chief ROV Pilot and departed in 2002 as one of the Institutes Directors. He was Vice President at Sound Ocean Systems in Redmond, Washington from 2007 until 2009 while maintaining and operating his marine consulting company that he started in 2002. In September 2009 he was appointed as the Head of the Office of Resources and Environmental Monitoring for the International Seabed Authority. In this capacity, he was responsible for the management of all mineral resources in the deep ocean located in the Area as defined in Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Mr. McFarlane’s career has included systems development, manufacturing, marine operations, training and management for a broad range of customers. These efforts were for academia, offshore oil and gas, military and educational programs. He was seconded from MBARI to train and lead Canadian Navy forces for wreckage recovery from the Swissair 111 disaster off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1998. His experience in all facets of subsea development, research and operations have provided him with a unique perspective on oceanographic endeavors and the marine environment. Mr. McFarlane is an experienced ROV pilot and has logged over 10,000 hours of piloting time, primarily for oceanographic research.

Mr. McFarlane was the co-chairperson of the National Science Foundation, National Visiting Committee, for the Marine Advanced Technology Center (MATE) for education from 1999 to 2009. He has also been directly involved in numerous film, television and documentary programs highlighting oceanographic research, education and current news. He is active in the scientific oceanographic community and is an active speaker at workshops and conferences internationally. He is a Member of the Marine Technology Society and a Fellow National (’97) of the Explorers Club.