top of page

Mapping Ecologically or Biologically significant areas (EBSAs)


Since 2004, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been developing and implementing a process to describe Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) in the global ocean.  As a founding member of the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI), the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab (MGEL) at Duke University has been critical in supporting this process since 2009.  GOBI provided early guidance on the application of the EBSA criteria, the development of the EBSA Repository, and has pulled from its network of partners to support the description of EBSAs.  In particular, MGEL and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia have facilitated and provided technical support for all 13 regional EBSA workshops. These workshops represent a remarkable example of international, cross-disciplinary collaboration, where researchers, policy makers and professionals throughout the world have come together to describe ~300 EBSAs- the only intergovernmentally agreed global suite of such areas in existence.


MGEL continues to play a leading role in the EBSA process through review of results of the EBSA process, both for technical reports requested by the CBD Secretariat, and peer-reviewed publications.  MGEL also continues to participate in Expert Workshops to develop the next steps in the EBSA process, integration of EBSA information into area-based planning on regional and global scales, and communication of lessons learned to the ongoing negotiations over a new international legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).


Engagement with the EBSA process has also led MGEL to a deeper understanding of the gaps in knowledge present in area-based planning efforts in ABNJ (and elsewhere).  One particularly acute knowledge gap is the geographic description of area-use and connectivity by highly migratory marine species.  This understanding led to a massive effort to describe Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean (MiCO).

bottom of page