Why a geo-portal?

The purpose of this geo-portal is to support spatial analyses and planning in the Western Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa coastal countries.

Support for Marine Spatial Planning is growing rapidly in the Western Indian Ocean, with several documents and projects providing a foundation (accessible in the bookshelf below):

  • >> during the course of 2015, a study on marine databases and datasets compiled by the Nairobi Convention and the Indian Ocean Commission (Scott 2015);
  • >> at COP 8 in June 2015, a briefing document on MSP alignment, in the Partnership workshop (Obura 2015);
  • >> at the CBD-SOI Capacity Building workshop on MSP in Madagascar in January 2016, development of an action plan for support to MSP in the WIO (SBSTTA 2016);
  • >> at the Nairobi Convention Focal Points meeting in Mauritius in March 2016, presentation of a concept note for supporting MSP in the WIO (Celliers & Francis 2016);
  • >> the Mozalink project, supported by WIOMSA, which is compiling and making available biophysical datasets for the Mozambique Channel (final outputs in preparation).
  • >> through the ‘Workshop to consider Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) in the Western Indian Ocean” from 13-15 November, 2017 in the Seychelles, where multiple MSP initiatives in the WIO, including MASPAWIO, are presented (see http://www.unep.org/nairobiconvention).

A number of geoportals already exist, for example the BIOPAMA portal on Protected Areas, the Africa Marine Atlas maintained by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) of UNESCO, and the Nairobi Convention Clearing House Mechanism, and others. These have formal foundations with governments and United Nations processes and represent the formal end of data provision for the Western Indian Ocean, or they have more general or non-marine focal areas. As a result, there are significant barriers to the uploading and dissemination of datasets produced through informal processes, such as in research and project implementation.

MASPAWIO specifically targets these non-formal marine and coastal research and ocean data outputs, generated to meet needs for spatial data in the Western Indian Ocean and adjacent seas in the Red Sea and Gulfs. By linking to other geoportals, including those mentioned above, this information will be more widely available, while remaining within a focal marine and coastal site with a specific geographical focus.



The primary need addressed is for national and other spatial planning processes to access information.

A secondary need addressed is from varied stakeholders (eg. projects, researchers and any interested stakeholders) having better access to data.

Data providers

The portal improves visibility and sharing of data from researchers, NGOs and implementation projects. This acts as a stepping stone for this data into more formal repositories, such as the African Marine Atlas supported by UNESCO, the Nairobi Convention Clearing House Mechanism and biodiversity portals such as OBIS and GBIF.