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GOBI secures 5-year programme to support conservation of ocean biodiversity

The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) has awarded GOBI a grant of €5.2 million in support of an intensive five-year effort to support conservation of life in the deep seas and open oceans.

Professor David Johnson, GOBI Coordinator, explains “This is a really exciting chance to support Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) who have made commitments to conserve marine biodiversity. To help policy-makers make the right decisions we need to better understand essential ocean processes, functions and interactions. Detailed scientific and technical advice can inform and influence where and what to protect as a top priority”. 

GOBI will help CBD determine the strengths, challenges and limitations of data availability. This includes current and emerging techniques, methodologies and expert knowledge. In data-deficient regions, predictive modelling of the occurrence, abundance, movement and range of species or ecosystem features will play an important role. GOBI will therefore contribute to the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, which established a series of Aichi Biodiversity Targets to be reached by 2020, by working up detailed biological information, ocean biogeographies and by integrating data on migratory species and hydrothermal vent ecosystems. 

Working with more than 100 countries over the past five years the CBD has masterminded a process of regional workshops to describe Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs). With most of the world’s oceans now assessed by this process, the onus is now to balance conservation and human activities, incorporate traditional knowledge and contribute to sustainable livelihoods. GOBI will be working with a range of these countries including Small Island Developing States of the south-west Pacific, developing countries of the Western Indian Ocean, and Central American States including Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras. Results will feed into the international debate on protecting the ocean including negotiations for a legally binding instrument to protect High Seas biodiversity and Sustainable Development Goal 14. They should also inform global bodies such as the International Seabed Authority and regional organisations such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme. 

The scientific partners in the project reflect its global nature. They comprise:

  • Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world; 
  • The Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University (USA), with its world-renowned researchers in the fields of hydrothermal vents and marine spatial ecology; 
  • The MarViva Foundation, dedicated to enabling the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal ecosystems in the Eastern Tropical Pacific; 
  • BirdLife International, the world’s largest conservation partnership with more than 13 million members and supporters; 
  • The Tethys Research Institute based at the City Aquarium of Milan, specialising in marine mammal conservation with an impressive track record of success in the Mediterranean. 

The deep-seas and open oceans are home to a major part of the world’s biodiversity. They support an enormous wealth of productive ecosystems, specialised habitats and individual species, which collectively provide humankind with services such as the production of oxygen, food and the regulation of the Earth’s climate. However, these ecosystems and the services they provide are under increasing pressure from global-scale issues such as climate change, and from human activities such as resource exploitation, over-fishing, shipping and coastal development.

Area-based management approaches and tools can help address a multitude of threats. These tools include marine protected areas and networks, environmental impact assessments, improved regulation of sectoral activities and broader ecosystem-based marine spatial planning. GOBI will continue to support such work, while improving the scientific basis of CBD Decisions, UN Resolutions and other measures through the application of analyses, network design, training and capacity building.

GOBI is coordinated by Seascape Consultants, a UK-based company specialising in transformational policy advice for ocean planners and managers, and Prof. Dr Henning von Nordheim of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) will continue to provide scientific guidance and oversight. This new programme of work starts on 1 May 2016 for a period of five years, and more information will be available on this site in due course. 

 

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