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Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction web platform for Abidjan Convention region

Ecological connectivity of the ocean

Understanding BBNJ and its importance for Africa

The adoption of UNCLOS in 1982 was established to manage human activities taking place in and on the ocean. It however does not reflect the ecological connectivity of the ocean.

The ocean is dynamic environment within which nutrients, gases, energy and heat move both horizontally across marine realms and vertically within the water column through physical, chemical and biological processes that enable their distribution across latitudes, longitudes and water depth. Marine species, ranging from microscopic plants to large marine mammals, are moved by currents or migrate across states boundaries and between EEZs and ABNJ. Threats to the marine environment, such as marine pollution, marine debris, or alien species, are also spread by currents and gyres horizontally and vertically in the ocean; beyond and across the legal divide that we have set for the ocean.

Ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABJN will therefore require taking in account the ecological connectivity of the ocean beyond legal jurisdictions; the intricate ecological, biological and oceanographic links that make the ocean the dynamic and living environment that it is to ensure its benefits for future generations.

Environmental Impact Assessments and Strategic Environmental Assessments

Deep-sea mining is the process of retrieving mineral deposits from the deep sea – the area of the ocean below 200 m which covers about 65% of the Earth’s surface.

There is growing interest in the mineral deposits of the deep sea. This is largely due to depleting terrestrial deposits for metals such as copper, nickel, aluminium, manganese, zinc, lithium and cobalt, coupled with rising demand for these metals to produce high-tech applications such as smartphones and green technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels and electric storage batteries.

So far, the focus has been on exploring the deep sea – assessing the size and extent of mineral deposits. By May 2018, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) – which regulates activities in areas beyond national jurisdiction – had issued 29 contracts for the exploration of deep-sea mineral deposits. More than 1.5 million km2 of international seabed – roughly the size of Mongolia – have been set aside for mineral exploration in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

But exploration may soon give way to exploitation. Commercial mining in national waters of Papua New Guinea is predicted to begin by 2020. Mining in international waters is expected to commence in 2025.

Area-Based Management Tools

Capacity building and Knowledge transfer


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