Johnson, D., Lee, J., Bamba, A., Karibuhoye, C. 2014. West African EBSAs: Building capacity for future protection. In: Green, A.N. and Cooper, J.A.G. (eds.), Proceedings 13th International Coastal Symposium (Durban, South Africa), Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 70, pp. 502–506, ISSN 0749-0208.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)'s commitment to describe marine Ecologically or BiologicallySignificant Areas (EBSAs) through the organisation of a series of regional workshops has resulted in the collation and synthesis of relevant physical and biological datasets. Groups of typically 30–50 experts have pooled knowledge, with the support of technical facilitators, to undertake these intensive scientific and technical exercises in a growing number of marine regions around the world. The results, which are then subject to consideration by the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, describe areas meeting scientific criteria for EBSAs that may require enhanced conservation and management measures. For the South-East Atlantic (West Africa), such a regional workshop took place in Namibia 8-1 April 2013 and, subject to consideration by CBD scientific subsidiary body, the Conference of the Parties to the CBD should eventually be presented with a suite of descriptions of 45 areas meeting EBSA criteria in this region in October 2014 at its 12th meeting. This paper explains the processes that took place both before and after the West African Workshop. Firstly, the Sustainable Ocean Initiative (SOI) supported a first ever regional capacity building Workshop to facilitate the implementation of efforts towards Aichi Target 6 (sustainable fisheries) and 11 (marine protected areas), and to make connections between these targets and the EBSA process. This successful effort, held in Senegal in February 2013, prepared the ground for the subsequent EBSA Workshop. Experts became familiar with available data, with the challenges to be met and had an opportunity to exchange experiences. Sharing scientific information related to descriptions of areas meeting EBSA criteria toward achieving the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and Aichi Biodiversity Targets requires sustained effort and collaboration among various partners and experts. The Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI) brings together partners who can contribute skills and research results to inform this process. Areas meeting EBSA criteria in the South-East Atlantic region reflect transboundary connections – from river to sea, from inshore to offshore and deep-sea ecosystems. Ultimately their sustainable use should involve spatial area management tools including, where appropriate, an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries and networks of marine protected areas. The work of selected countries since the EBSA Workshop illustrates possibilities.