The Mami Wata project supports the development of technical capacity in the Abidjan Convention Member Countries to undertake Integrated Ocean Management (IOM). A key aspect of this capacity is the development of thematic toolkits to support three elements of Integrated Ocean Management: State of the Marine Environment Reporting (SoME), the identification of CBD Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP).

These toolkits will be designed to provide practical guidance and relevant regional examples for the Abidjan Convention Member Countries. The toolkits will consist of guidance documents and practical tools to support these three thematic activities.

 

The guidance documents

The guidance documents are living documents that will evolve throughout the life of the project. Lessons learned through the implementation of the upcoming three Mami Wata pilot projects will be incorporated into these documents. The documents will also draw on other regional examples on the application of SoME, EBSA and MSP with the aim of making these as useful as possible to the countries of the Abidjan Convention Region.

Each guidance document consists of an overview of the thematic area, and then presents a stepwise guide to initiating, implementing and incorporating these processes into and Integrated Ocean Management framework. At each step, relevant regional examples will be used demonstrate how challenges have been addressed to provide relevant regional solutions.

At the upcoming Expert Working Group meeting in Sierra Leonne (middle of October 2017), the three working groups will participate in a writer’s workshop to add examples from their experience and prepare these guidance documents for broader release.

Through the application of the guidance documents in the pilot projects, they will be complemented by specific technical and process tools to form a toolkit. They will be reviewed in light of the experience gathered, and finalised for further uptake by Member Countries of the Abidjan Convention and shared through, for example, the UN Environment Regional Seas Programme.

THEMATIC TOOLKITS

What are Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs)?
Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) are special areas in the ocean which have been shown to hold great richness of species and productivity of living organisms, possess rare or endemic species, or are home to unique communities of fauna and flora. Such areas often play a critical role in key ecological functions and processes.

EBSAs are identified through a scientific process and meet one or more of the seven criteria adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2008:

  1. Uniqueness or Rarity
  2. Special importance for life history stages of species
  3. Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats
  4. Vulnerability, Fragility, Sensitivity, or Slow recovery
  5. Biological Productivity
  6. Biological Diversity
  7. Naturalness

EBSAs have no direct management implications. They can however inform decision-makers when prioritizing areas for management and identifying effective measures, to ensure that human activities are not impacting on the things that make these places special. EBSA information can, for example, be used as an input into Marine Spatial Planning (MSP).

What is State of the Marine Environment reporting (SoME)?

The basic purpose of State of the Marine Environment reporting is to allow for regular assessment of an agreed set of regional indicators that show status and trends in environmental and related socio-economic conditions. It provides necessary information for developing monitoring programs and policies implemented at local, national and regional levels. Furthermore, it increases the number of stakeholders involved in order to benefit from their significant feedback and valuable contributions.

 

A SoME report aims at making conclusions about the status and trend of key indicators and recommendations that could reverse negative trends and improve the overall condition of the marine environment.

What is Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)?

Marine spatial planning is a public process that is increasingly being used around the globe to address these challenges and to improve marine management. It focuses on the allocation of marine space for the range of activities that occur in the marine environment; include shipping, fishing, extractive activities, renewable energy, recreation, traditional use and conservation. Marine spatial planning can be used to reduce conflict between these sectors, provide certainty to these users and enhance the protection of fragile ecosystems. Additionally, marine spatial planning brings together the different sectors, managers and the community to better understand each other’s priorities and help set future priorities.