A large-scale demonstration project of marine conservation in the Pacific region is currently underway through a growing partnership which includes the UNEP-WCMC, IUCN, the French Government and other local, regional and global organizations. This collaboration has begun to examine scientific information and indigenous knowledge as a means to identify and map important ocean areas of ecological value and international significance that are in need of protection. In this project, a range of information will be used to determine the scale of analysis as well as the methods, tools, models and proxies necessary for best results. To the extent possible, data on marine mammals and other highly migratory species will be used as an initial indicator for understanding and learning from the application of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) scientific criteria for ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs).
In 2008, the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted scientific criteria for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) in need of protection on the open oceans and deep seas. The 7 criteria are:
1. Uniqueness / rarity
2. Special importance for life history of species
3. Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species / habitats
4. Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity, or slow recovery
5. Biological productivity
6. Biological diversity
An international partnership advancing the scientific basis for conserving biological diversity in the deep seas and open oceans, the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative was formed in late 2008. Its collaborative partners include the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), IUCN, UNEP-WCMC, Marine Conservation Biology Institute (MCBI), Census of Marine Life, Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) and the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab of Duke University. GOBI aims to identify, on a scientific basis and with the highest certainty possible, candidate areas that meet the ESBA criteria, and hence which could receive protection by 2012. As an initial focus the Pacific region will be assessed.
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