Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oceans under microscope for Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas

10 October 2012, CBD COP 11, Hyderabad India - 58% of the world’s oceans have completed review for their potential to be an Ecologically or Biologically Significant Area resulting in 26 areas identified in the Western South Pacific region as meeting the EBSA criteria.

Over the past year the world’s oceans, both near shore and deep ocean regions, have been under the microscope through a series of workshops to identify those parts that can be considered as Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs).

The definition of EBSA includes aspects such as uniqueness or rarity, biological productivity and diversity and a state of naturalness.

At the CBD COP10 meeting in 2010, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity was directed to organise a series of regional workshops around the world to investigate and identify EBSAs.

Results from these workshops were presented during the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 11) in Hyderabad, India.

Side event on EBSA at the CBD COP 11
 In the Western South Pacific region, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the CBD coordinated and lead a workshop in Fiji, November 2011 with the technical support of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) from Australia, to identify EBSAs for this huge ocean area. 

The workshop was attended by 13 nations and 12 international and regional organisations to develop an extensive database of marine resources. This database was used to identify EBSA and marine environments that need to preserved for future generations.

“26 areas were identified that meet the EBSA criteria, with a further two areas in need of further review.  This is a significant milestone for the Pacific in meeting its CBD objectives.”  Reported Mr Stuart Chape, SPREP Director - Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management at the side event on Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) on Day 1 of CBD COP11 at Hyderabad, India. 

Mr. Stuart Chape making a presentation
 "The biogeographic zones used to define the EBSA region were adjusted to better reflect the SPREP region. The total area considered covered 40 million sq km of ocean, almost 10% of the planet. This huge area is vital for the current and future sustainable development of Pacific island countries and territories, as reflected in the Pacific Oceanscape framework adopted by Pacific island leaders to implement a regional approach to management and governance of the ocean. Identification, and future protection, of EBSAs will contribute to the regional Oceanscape process as well as meeting global commitments through the CBD."

The Pacific Oceanscape is a regional framework seen as the catalyst for action for the Pacific Islands Regional Ocean Policy (PIROP) to protect, manage, maintain and sustain the cultural and natural integrity of the ocean for our ancestors and future generations and indeed for global well-being.   For more information on the Pacific Oceanscape.

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