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CBD regional EBSA Workshop for the NE Indian Ocean region

23-27 March 2015, Colombo, Sri Lanka

This 10th Regional EBSA Workshop started with the lighting of an auspicious oil lamp. This was the first time Sri Lanka had hosted a Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Workshop, and the Secretariat of the CBD was supported by collaboration with the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) and the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) Project. Representatives of the Government of Sri Lanka emphasised the country’s rich marine biodiversity within its EEZ. The Workshop was preceded by a training day involving GOBI representatives. 

Scientific and technical support was provided by CSIRO, with funding provided by BOBLME. A novel aspect of this workshop was the availability of a comprehensive ecological characterisation providing an hierarchical and systematic regionalisation of biophysical systems for the BOBLME region, as well as descriptions of systems and 29 subsystems (see Figure 1). 

Map of provincial bioregions for the Bay of Bengal

Figure 1: Map of Provincial Bioregions for the Bay of Bengal The workshop described 10 EBSAs (albeit that one area, the Gulf of Mannar, was an enlargement of an area previously described within the Southern Indian Ocean Workshop). 


A further area, the section of the ‘Swatch of No Ground’ submarine canyon and estuarine waters of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta within the Bangladesh EEZ, significant as a priority habitat for threatened megafauna assemblages, was highlighted for further consideration as no representative from Bangladesh attended. These results add to the 204 EBSAs recognised by CBD COP11 and COP12. The Workshop report will be presented to SBSTTA 20 in April 2016 and to COP 13 for consideration by CBD Parties. 

The GOBI Secretariat: 

  1. provided input to the description of a large Olive Ridley marine turtle migration corridor in ABNJ, linking the huge nesting beaches in Orissa, India with Sri Lankan beaches to the south.; 
  2. supported Maldivian descriptions of atolls significant for supporting life cycle stages of far ranging migratory species including hammerhead sharks, manta rays and whale sharks; and 
  3. summarised scientific and research gaps to be noted in the Workshop report. Particular thanks are due to information on marine turtles and dugongs provided remotely at short notice by CMS focal points. 

In addition to Prof. David Johnson, representing the GOBI Secretariat, GOBI nominees who attended were Dr Brian Smith (Director, Asian Freshwater and Coastal Cetacean Program, Wildlife Conservation Society) and Dr Asha de Vos (Founder, Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project). Dr Smith is an acknowledged regional expert and he developed the Swatch of No Ground description. Dr de Vos is an early career scientist and she drafted the template for the ‘Southern Central and Offshore Waters of Sri Lanka between Galle and Yala National Park’ EBSA for further consideration by national experts. 

 Follow-up to the Workshop has included discussion with SCBD Lifeweb regarding future protection of the entire Maldivian EEZ, drawing upon the information collated to describe EBSAs and recognising the importance of the Maldives as a coral province. Further discussion has also been held with representatives of Indonesia.

Participants at the NE Indian Ocean EBSA workshop

Participants at the Workshop

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