Ocean Governance

The Need

Sustainable ocean governance means placing the ecological “carrying capacity” of the ocean centre stage, in a holistic sense, and framing social and economic activities around that. A successful blue economy approach recognises a healthy and resilient ocean underpins a balanced and inclusive portfolio of ocean activities, and prioritises investment in marine science, research, conservation and technology to support this.

It requires visionary leadership and bold commitments to protect key swathes of ocean from all human activities. Scientists internationally recommend we should be fully protecting 30% of representative biodiversity and habitats across the world’s oceans; currently we are protecting just 4.8% , and the Indian Ocean is among the least protected of all the world’s oceans.

It is widely established through numerous studies that the social and economic benefits of establishing and operating well-managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) sizeably exceed their costs. Ocean life can rebound quickly. MPAs also contribute to climate change adaptation and to some extent mitigation, by acting as climate reserves and through coastal protection. Marine plans and MPAs need to be based upon the best available scientific knowledge, which can clarify the uniqueness, vulnerability, connectivity, and resilience of our oceanic ecosystems to human impacts.

Our Approach

By creating novel collaborations between governments, scientists, the corporate sector and civil society, and a holistic approach which combines cutting-edge scientific exploration, public engagement, ocean literacy and capacity development, we drive improved ocean focus whilst delivering deep new insights to benefit us all. We empower and catalyse local ocean governance through partnership – generating rapid co-produced science and developing local expertise.

We work for and on behalf of our host countries and develop a close understanding of needs and how we can contribute to meeting those, given our regional scientific aims and our skills and networks. We co-design and co-produce science, so that we can be confident the research we jointly undertake will be useful and add to existing knowledge.

And we create and promote standards for marine sampling and marine data, to better equip ocean researchers and managers of the future. We share all our results, tools and approaches, so that others can amplify impact.

Our ocean governance programme in Seychelles

Seychelles are implementing the Western Indian Ocean’s first comprehensive large-scale Marine Spatial Plan (and second largest in the world, after Norway), This is the first marine plan designed to address climate change and sustain a national 'Blue Economy'. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a consultative process of analysing and allocating human activities in marine areas across space and time to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that are specified through a political process. It is a continuing, iterative process that learns and adapts over time.

Our objective is to support Seychelles in successful implementation of its Marine Spatial Plan, including protection of 30% of its national waters by 2020, in support of a sustainable Blue Economy.

The Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) of Seychelles has three objectives:

  • Conservation and sustainable use of ocean resources
  • Promotion of the Blue Economy
  • Address Climate Change risks.

Overall the goal is to protect 30% of national waters (an area larger than the size of Germany) and to give all remaining areas an allowable activities table with conditions attached.

Phase 1 culminated in February 2018 when 15% of the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) was designated as protected, including a huge extension around Aldabra.

New data from deep water habitats anticipated from the expedition can fill essential gaps in knowledge to inform Phase 2 of the MSP process, which will designate a further 15% of the EEZ to be sustainably managed.

The following activities are being undertaken as part of the joint expedition:

  • Baseline data: provision from the expedition of essential deeper ecosystem baseline data to inform the zonation exercise within the MSP at a national level, and to inform local monitoring at particular sites (eg, Aldabra)
  • Ground-truthing: providing deep water ecosystem data from the expedition will enable ground-truthing of the software being used for the MSP, which in the absence of actual data, models potential biodiversity hostspots
  • Standardised research protocols: communication, demonstration and training in standardised research methods and data standards (as noted under capacity development) will enable more robust and extensive marine research and monitoring locally in the future. The joint expedition can also lead to a common understanding across locations between special interest stakeholders and gain further collective and public buy-in to the national MSP
  • New tools: co-development of local/regional taxonomic tools, guides and maps, together with co-authored science papers will support ongoing marine management, research and understanding
  • Results workshop in-country upon conclusion of the major part of the research activities, to consider findings and their implications for management, agree co-produced papers and tools, learn lessons and make recommendations as appropriate for future research
  • Senior bilateral briefings with key decision makers to present key data and scientific findings and opportunities for improved sustainable management
  • Open-access data harvested by OCTOPUS (The Ocean Tool for Public Understanding and Science).
  • Further activities: beyond Seychelles, we are exploring a range of locations in the Indian Ocean region. We seek to build on existing commitments to improved ocean governance and protection and partner with host countries to jointly explore deeper waters and catalyse change.