Building on the success and achievements from GOBI’s five-year programme of work funded through the International Climate Initiative (IKI), a further two years of work has been approved to build on these results and implement them in a regional setting. The extension recognises the value of GOBI’s continuing input to the science base underpinning the EBSA process, as well as to CBD’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and to other international bodies, such as the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The expanded work programme will also allow GOBI to continue to input to ongoing negotiations for the BBNJ Implementing Agreement. With this two-year extension, GOBI’s cutting-edge research will continue to October 2023.
The work undertaken over the next two years by the project partners will enable the tools and methodologies developed over the past five years to be tested, further improved and demonstrated to support and inform sustainable management of ocean biodiversity in the NW Indian Ocean region, an underrepresented region in oceanic research. Meanwhile further afield, GOBI partner MarViva Foundation’s achievements to date on governance of the Costa Rica Thermal Dome have formed the basis for the new SARGADOM Project, where they will continue to develop, and Duke University’s work on hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge continues to inform deliberations at the International Seabed Authority on Regional Environmental Management Plans on mid-ocean ridges across the world.
Specifically, GOBI’s work over the next two years will include the following:
- An extension of the current bioregionalisation exercise into the NW Indian Ocean (Arabian Sea, Red Sea, The Gulf), thus completing coverage of the entire Indian Ocean. A dedicated workshop will consolidate the uses and benefits of bioregionalisation information in ecosystem management – including a MPA prioritisation processes for the entire Indian Ocean.
- Expansion of the gap analysis of EBSA coverage, focusing on areas beyond national jurisdiction and potential threats to biodiversity in those areas, together with development of area-use models for migratory species, such as sea turtles, to support the agenda of the CMS. Data and functionality updates to the MiCO platform will continue, providing support for many tasks across the project.
- Continued collation of seabird tracking data to highlight major marine flyways for all ocean basins, contributing information to the MiCO platform, and illustrating the importance of ecosystem connectivity, particularly in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Collaboration with marine mammal experts to identify multispecies (seabirds and marine mammals) hotspots in the NW Indian Ocean, to inform future discussions on marine spatial planning and conservation.
- Based on the now well-established IMMA process, two further regional IMMA workshops (one of which pending since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic) will work towards completing IMMA coverage for the southern hemisphere. In close cooperation with work on seabirds and other migratory animals captured in MiCO, this will further strengthen the scientific understanding of behaviours of marine mammal migratory species, with special attention given to migratory species behaviour in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Results from activities in the NW Indian Ocean region will be brought together in a regional demonstration workshop in 2023, that will work with relevant regional organisations and coastal States to apply the tools and methodologies developed within the project in support of ecosystem-oriented marine management and marine spatial planning. For the wider ocean science-focused community, the end-of-project GOBI science conference – postponed from 2020 due to the COVID crisis – will convene researchers and policymakers to showcase the achievements and advances made over the full seven-year span of GOBI’s IKI-funded research, as well as to explore how these tools can be further developed in collaboration with other ongoing research and applied in other regions of the world.
All of the above will be supported by the GOBI Secretariat, who alongside the whole GOBI partnership, will continue to promote the global biodiversity conservation agenda through varied dissemination platforms, including publications, social media engagement, and presentations at scientific and regulatory fora such as IMPAC5.
Title photo credit: Cinzia Osele Bismarck, Ocean Image Bank