The Indian Ocean’s most important marine sites

A booklet containing rich descriptions of the 39 sites identified in the CBD’s EBSA process as the most important in the Indian Ocean.

The Convention on Biological Diversity recently released the ‘Ecologically or Biologically Sensitive Marine Areas (EBSAs) of the Southern Indian Ocean’ booklet. The region includes the whole of the central, western and southern Indian Ocean, only excluding the Asian mainland coastline and Australia.

This booklet, the third in the series (Volume 1: Western South Pacific and Volume 2: Wider Caribbean and Western Mid-Atlantic) provides summaries of the areas described during the Southern Indian Ocean Regional Workshop to Facilitate the Description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas, which took place in Flic en Flac, Mauritius, from 31 July to 3 August 2012.

These booklets, through an inclusive and science-driven process involving experts from all over the world and an enormous amount of scientific data, describe the areas of the oceans that are the most crucial to the healthy functioning of the global marine ecosystem. There are 39 areas described as meeting the EBSA criteria in the Southern Indian Ocean, featuring habitats as distinct as mangroves and seamounts, from subtropical islands to the abyssal plain, a rich and varied tapestry.

To find out more about this and other EBSA workshops, see The full report of this workshop is available here , and the booklet is available online here.

CORDIO in the EBSA processWhat is an EBSA?What happens in an EBSA?

CORDIO is proud to have supported the EBSA process through contributions in the 2012 workshop in Mauritius, and subsequently through involvement with the CBD Secretariat’s Sustainable Oceans Initiative through participation in its Global Partnership workshop at the CBD COP in 2014 in South Korea, and now in supporting capacity building for Marine Spatial Planning, starting with a regional workshop in Nosy Be, Madagascar, in January 2016.

Our work on the Northern Mozambique Channel and World Heritage in the Western Indian Ocean have been key inputs to the EBSA process, and our follow-on actions are intended to improve management and protection of these key sites.

The classification of EBSAs has significantly contributed to global, regional and national efforts to expand scientific knowledge on marine biodiversity and improve conservation and sustainable use in support of the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in marine and coastal areas. In 2008, the Parties to the CBD adopted a set of seven scientific criteria to be used in identifying EBSAs. These criteria provide guidance on the key types of features to be considered when identifying areas that are critically important to the functioning of marine ecosystems.

For more details on the EBSA criteria, please see:

The EBSA process purely describes areas of critical biological or ecological importance, but with no prescription about management. Governments and relevant authorities can apply, as appropriate, the EBSA criteria to identify ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, with a view to applying national policies and processes for management or conservation. Outside of national jurisdictions, they can assist the relevant processes within the United Nations General Assembly to further enhance conservation and management measures, in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Examples of countries using the EBSA process in national processes for management and protection of their EEZs include: