Marine Newsletter #2 2014 – February

Highlights from the Marine Division at GRID-Arendal for February 2014

Featured Project

Continental Shelf Programme: West Africa
Since 2010 Norway has, through GRID-Arendal, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and the Norwegian Mapping Authority, assisted seven West African States (Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and, since 2012, Sierra Leone) with the process leading to the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. The programme has included the production of a desktop study on the continental shelf, support in updating the baselines, acquisition of data offshore West Africa, training of technical experts from each State, and currently, support in the preparation of the technical documentation necessary for lodging one or more submissions with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

This project is based on three main elements: African ownership, African cooperation and Norwegian support. In order to ensure regular discussion of the project progress and enhance the above elements, meetings with the participation of representatives of all coastal states plus the representatives of the Norwegian institutions providing the support are held regularly every six months in Praia, Cabo Verde. Cabo Verde is assuming the functions of the ad-hoc Chair of the Liaison Committee put in place to coordinate, exchange information and oversee the implementation of the project.

On the 7th meeting, held from 27 to 29 January 2014, the Liaison Committee reviewed the draft submission. Good progress has been made, and it is expected that the final submission will be ready by the end of the year. The technical experts agreed unanimously on the need to continue cooperating towards the preparation of the submission. All preferred a joint submission for the whole region. Reservations were expressed with regards to certain political and other implications. Despite these reservations the use of a single submission structured in chapters, for which recommendations could eventually be received separately, was very well received and got full unanimous support at the technical level. The unanimity in continuing and finalising the submission as a single group is remarkable and highlights the good cooperation culture that has been seeded through this project.

For more information, please contact Joan Fabres.

Data and Products

Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration Project Report
The Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration Project has studied the role ‘Blue Carbon’ ecosystems play in delivering goods and services supporting the well-being of Abu Dhabi and its residents. The project looked at mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows, as well as two locally specific ecosystems: sabkha and algal mats.

The project, which brought together a team of world-class experts on Blue carbon and ecosystem services, found the values healthy coastal ecosystems provide to merit their inclusion in the management of the coastal environment in Abu Dhabi, and recommended specific steps for implementation.

This publication – Blue Carbon in Abu Dhabi – Protecting our Coastal Heritage – highlights the activities, findings and recommendations of the project. More information can be found on the Blue Carbon Portal.

For more information, please contact Christian Neumann.

Map of the Month

Global Seafloor Geomorphic Features Map
Through a joint initiative of Conservation International, GRID-Arendal and Geoscience Australia, a global map of seafloor geomorphology has been underway since 2012 and is now complete. Seafloor geomorphology is one of the more useful of the physical attributes of the seabed mapped and measured by marine scientists for ocean management. This is because different geomorphic features (eg. submarine canyons, seamounts, plateaus, trenches etc.) are commonly associated with particular suites of habitats and biological communities.

The map includes spatial data layers for 29 different geomorphic feature types defined by the International Hydrographic Organisation. It will be particularly useful in locations where other data sources on benthic habitats are unavailable, such as in the ocean territory of developing states and in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Click on the image to view the full map.

For more information, please contact Miles Macmillan-Lawler or Peter Harris.


Recent events
Seminars/meetings/conferences related to the marine environment where representatives from GRID-Arendal have participated:

  • National workshop for production of the National State of the Coast Report, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 4-7 February.
  • Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration Project end of project meeting, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 5 February.
  • Conference on marine waste, organised by Avfall Norge,Oslo, Norway, 5 February.
  • Presencing Institute Global Forum, Cambridge, MA, USA, 11-12 February – co-leading a reflection lab entitled 'Cultivating our Commons: Fishing Ecosystems'.
  • Public lecture on deep sea minerals and mining, Arendal, Norway, 17 February – lecture held by Mark Hannington, Professor of Marine Mineral Resources at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Reseach – Kiel (GEOMAR) and Goldcorp Chair in Economic Geology at the University of Ottawa.
  • Seminar on risks and benefits of shipping and offshore related businesses in the Arctic, Arendal, Norway, 26 February – organised by GARD and Youngship Sørlandet.
  • UNEP workshop, New York, USA, 26-28 February – reviewing a guidance manual on valuation and accounting of ecosystem services of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Upcoming events

17-21 March
Cape Town, South Africa: 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Abidjan Convention. The theme of the COP is "Promoting Blue Growth in Africa – Toward Sustainable Management of Marine Resources".
For more information, please contact Morten Sørensen or Yannick Beaudoin.

Spotlight on Success

Endorsement of "Blue Forests Project" by the Global Environment Facility
Dr. Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), has endorsed the project titled "Standardized Methodologies for Carbon Accounting and Ecosystem Services Valuation of Blue Forests", also known as the "Blue Forests Project". This GEF project is a four-year international initiative focused on demonstrating how carbon sequestration and storage and the valuation of other coastal and marine ecosystem services can be used to ensure the long-term management, protection and sustainable use of coastal ecosystems. The project will be implemented by UNEP and executed by GRID-Arendal. We will present this project in our March Newsletter, so please stay tuned!
For more information, please contact Steven Lutz.


Clarification: EEZ data source for December map
The Map of the Month in our December Newsletter, which was taken from the report Deep Sea Minerals: A physical, biological, environmental, and technical review (page 6 in Volume 1A), was not properly referenced with regard to data source. The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) shapefile came from the VLIZ Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase/Marine Regions, which is managed by Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). We apologise for not referencing the map correctly.

Did you know that...

...Palau's president has declared that the Pacific nation will become a marine sanctuary, where no commercial fishing will take place? Locals and tourists will continue to be able to fish, but there will be no commercial scale operations.
Source: Australia Network News
...a recently developed smartphone app can be used to report poaching? The "MPA Guardian" app uses GPS technology in a smartphone to detect the time and user location. It is currently focused on California's marine protected areas, but will be expanded to MPAs across the country.
Source: Stanford Woods Institute

Our favorite website of the month


Disclaimer: GRID-Arendal does not necessarily endorse the content of external websites, and provides them for information purposes only. If you would like your website to be featured here, please contact Rannveig Nilsen.

Picture of the Month

Tumbu is a fishing village located 30 km south of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. It is home to about 6,000 people whose main livelihood is artisanal fishing. In the photo, villagers are unloading a long seine net from a traditional, locally-built longboat used for fishing within about 12 miles of the coast. Fish accounts for about 90% of the protein consumed in Sierra Leone. The country has well managed coastal fisheries, assessed as being in very good condition and with stable catches over the past 5 years.
Photo: Peter Harris, GRID-Arendal

For previous editions of this Marine Newsletter, please visit our Marine Division website.

Monday 03 Mar 2014