Sustainable Oceans, Livelihoods and food Security Through Increased Capacity in Ecosystem research in the Western Indian Ocean (SOLSTICE-WIO)

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre
Department Name: Science and Technology

Abstract

Ten percent of the world's population depend on the ocean for a readily accessible source of protein and employment, with the majority (95%) living in developing countries. Poor coastal communities are at the frontier for climate change impacts, compounded by population growth and food demand, but are among the least resilient to the challenges of the future.

SOLSTICE-WIO will focus on coastal communities in nine developing countries and island states in eastern Africa, interlinked culturally and ecologically and collectively known as the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region. All nine (South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Somalia, Madagascar, Comoros) are on the list of Official Development Aid recipients, with five identified as Least Developed Countries.

In the WIO over 100 million people live within 100 km of the ocean, with a significant proportion employed in local fisheries. This leaves the region highly dependent on the ocean for economic stability, food security, and social cohesion. These coastal communities have limited adaptive capacity to cope with dramatic reductions in fish stocks caused by overfishing, habitat destruction, and increasing environmental pressures - all aggravated by climate change. The decline of WIO fisheries has had profound socio-political ramifications, from the rise of piracy to general political instability.

A clear example of the devastating effect of a fish stock reduction is the collapse of the Chokka Squid fishery in South Africa. SOLSTICE-WIO will use this as a case study to demonstrate the strengths of a holistic approach to human-ecosystem-fisheries research and the potential solutions this can offer. The squid fishery was the 4th most valuable fishery in South Africa, bringing foreign currency into one of the poorest provinces. It was directly employing 5000 fishermen with 30,000 dependents. The 2013 crash had a devastating effect on the Eastern Cape, yet the underlying reasons are unknown: local fishermen believe the collapse was caused by environmental change. Until the mechanisms behind the collapse are understood, there is little potential for aiding recovery or guiding adaptation. SOLSTICE-WIO will provide this urgently needed understanding to help inform the fishery and Government as to the fate of the local ecosystem, whether it will recover, and whether the crash could have been predicted or prevented.

How will SOLSTICE achieve this?
The key to stability of living marine resources lies in an ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF), which sees human-natural systems as a whole, integrated entity rather than separately considering individual target species. Simply put: you cannot manage something you don't understand, nor can you adapt to change through management improvements unless you can describe, measure and understand the changes. The core strength of SOLSTICE-WIO lies in its integral approach to food security, drawing on UK expertise in physical oceanography, marine ecology, autonomous observations, environmental economics and the human dimension,and WIO expertise in fisheries, the marine economy and regional policy development.

SOLSTICE will provide the region with the state-of-the-art technology to deliver cost-effective marine research and provide the information needed to achieve maximum potential from the region's living marine resources. In the UK marine robotics, ocean models and novel data products from satellite observations have developed rapidly in the last decade, and now underpin Blue Economies and Ocean Governance in Europe. These technologies are highly agile and ready to be applied in the developing world as cost-effective ways to maximise understanding and sustainable exploitation of living marine resources. Such "technology leapfrogging" can overcome the severe lack of research ships in the WIO and save decades of effort in developing predictive modelling systems from scratch.

Planned Impact

Western Indian Ocean (WIO) countries recognise that the welfare and livelihoods of their coastal populations are intimately linked to goods and services provided by the region's Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs). While the WIO supports 4 million tons of fish catches annually yielding $943 million in revenues and employment, most fishers in the region are among the poorest in society.
FAO figures show that seafood exports from developing countries reach over $25 billion a year, higher than other agricultural commodities. Nevertheless marine capture fisheries are an underperforming global asset. Unlocking this economic potential for the WIO means tackling the challenge of decreasing catches due to over-exploitation, habitat degradation and climate change impacts which combine with increasing coastal populations to make food security an urgent issue. Fundamental to this is the WIO-wide adoption of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) firmly recommended by the UNDP/GEF Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for Sustainable Management of the Western Indian Ocean LMEs, adopted and signed by Ministers from the nine WIO countries in 2015. The SAP has a mandate to build partnership for promoting sustainable management and shared governance of WIO ecosystems for present and future generations. However, its ability to deliver is limited by low scientific capacity, inadequate monitoring programmes, and poor integration of marine science into fisheries policies and management practices.
SOLSTICE will deliver impact by increasing regional capacity to support EAF by applying modern technologies to monitor marine environments and their societal impact and provide evidence-based information for decision support. Thus the project will make a substantial contribution to the implementation of the SAP by creating a step-change in the ability to manage and optimally exploit local fisheries.
The primary beneficiaries are policy makers and resource managers tasked with delivering sustainable management of marine living resources and climate adaptation options. They will benefit from an increased capability or the region's marine research bodies to deliver up-to-date environmental and socio-economic information relevant to their needs and in forms that meet their requirements. Increased regional capability to access outputs from global climate models, assess their reliability for regional and local environments, and interpret projections in the light of local information and knowledge will enable developing evidence-based adaptation options for consideration by policy makers.

Ultimate beneficiaries include:
- Commercial and artisanal fishers and their families will benefit from better yields and greater stability of sustainably managed fisheries, or from guidance on alternatives where existing practices are unsustainable.
- Enterprises engaged in processing, marketing, distributing and exporting seafood will benefit from higher yields and greater stability of optimally managed fisheries due to improvements in fishing practices arising from research recommendations.
- The tourism sector, dependent on attractive, ecologically sound natural environments and a culinary culture where seafood figures prominently, will benefit from their continued availability.
- Fishers, their families and the general public will benefit from a better understanding of the marine environment and the services provided by healthy marine ecosystems.
In the UK, DFID and NGOs engaged in supporting sustainable development will benefit from improved capacity of WIO marine research to deliver evidence-based guidance to decision makers. UK industries in the marine robotics and under-water sensing technology sector will benefit from improved links to WIO organisations engaged in marine environmental monitoring and research.

Engagement with these stakeholders to ensure they benefit are described in Pathways to Impact, as are plans for monitoring and evaluation of the impacts.

People

ORCID iD

Michael John Roberts (Principal Investigator)
Andrew Yool (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9879-2776
Razack Lokina (Co-Investigator)
Stuart Carl Painter (Co-Investigator)
Charles Magori (Co-Investigator)
Jose Fernandes (Co-Investigator)
Tim Le Bas (Co-Investigator)
Stephanie Anne Henson (Co-Investigator)
Joseph Nyingi Kamau (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4053-4210
Stephen Hall (Co-Investigator)
Tammy Horton (Co-Investigator)
Ekaterina Popova (Co-Investigator)
David Alexander Smeed (Co-Investigator)
Narriman Saleh Jiddawi (Co-Investigator)
David Christopher Obare Obura (Co-Investigator)
Dionysios Raitsos-Exarchopoulos (Co-Investigator)
ROBERT JOHN BREWIN (Co-Investigator)
Margareth Kyewalyanga (Co-Investigator)
Lucy Scott (Co-Investigator)
Shigalla Mahongo (Co-Investigator)
Brian James Bett (Co-Investigator)
Eleni Papathanasopoulou (Co-Investigator)
Ana De Moura Queiros (Co-Investigator)
Harrison Ochieng Ong'anda (Co-Investigator)
Icarus Allen (Co-Investigator)
Daniel J Mayor (Co-Investigator)
Julius Francis (Co-Investigator)
Alan John Evans (Co-Investigator)
Paolo Cipollini (Co-Investigator)
Christopher John Banks (Co-Investigator)
Baraka Sekadende (Co-Investigator)
Margaux Alienor Noyon (Co-Investigator)
Henry Ruhl (Co-Investigator)
Russell Barry Wynn (Co-Investigator)
Alex Poulton (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5149-6961
Helen Mary Snaith (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7751-2985
Christine Pascale Gommenginger (Co-Investigator)
Shankar Aswani (Co-Investigator)
Valborg Byfield (Co-Investigator)
Veerle Ann Huvenne (Co-Investigator)
 
Description North Kenyan Bank Case Study:
Using modelling and remote sensing data we analysed the 1997-98 shift of upwelling patterns along the east African coast and its documented consequences. We found that the position of the confluence zone is the critical oceanographic feature controlling ecosystem productivity patterns along the coastline of Kenya and Tanzania. Understanding its natural variability and future dynamics under the climate change should be the key priority for the evaluation of the fisheries potential along the Kenyan and Tanzanian coastline.

Pemba Channel Case Study:

Too early to report

South African Case Study:

Too early to report

Wider WIO/Global:

We reviewed the scientific evidence that demonstrates ecological connectivity between Areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) and the coastal zones with a focus on the least developed countries (LDCs). We used ocean modelling to develop a number of metrics and spatial maps that serve to quantify the connectivity of the ABNJ to the coastal zone. We find that the level of exposure to the ABNJ influences varies strongly between countries, with Tanzania and Kenya being some of the most ABNJ connected countries in the world. Similarly, not all areas of the ABNJ are equal in their impacts on the coastline. Using this method, we identify the areas of the ABNJ that are in the most urgent need of protection on the grounds of the strength of their potential downstream impacts on the coastal populations of LDCs. We argue that indirect negative impacts of the ABNJ fishing, industrialisation and pollution, communicated via oceanographic, cultural and ecological connectivity to the coastal waters of the developing countries should be of concern. The conclusions have strong influence on the ongoing negotiations to establish an international, legally-binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity within Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.
Exploitation Route Our findings on connectivity between the coastal zones and ABNJ are informing UNCLOS negotiations on the governance of biodiversity in the areas beyond national jurisdictions
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment

URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X19300764#appsec1
 
Description Partners from the Tanzanian Institute of Marine Studies and the UK National Oceanography Centre deployed a series of user-developed satellite-tracked ocean drifters in the Pemba Channel (West Indian Ocean) in July 2018 in a de-risking exercise ahead of experiments with ocean robots in 2019. Development of the affordable ocean drifters to investigate the sustainability of local fisheries is a part of the Technology transfer activities in the area of marine robotics. SOLSTICE project has initiated a Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS) at the Nelson Mandela University's (NMU) brand new Ocean Science Campus. Owing to strong local logistical support, the new Ocean Science Campus at NMU has been chosen as the hub for marine robotics in the UK-SA-WIO wide research network presently being established by SOLSTICE. As a result of SOLSTICE activities, NMU was awarded $850,000 over three years by a public entity merSETA to initiate the new facility. Core funding from the South African Government to purchase a small fleet of robots is now being pursued. Full growth of WIO-AMOS will be facilitated by a 5-year appointment of the Chair in Marine Robotics. SOLSTICE-WIO project has set up a PhD training programme at the Nelson Mandela University's brand new Ocean Science Campus to build skills that detect marine ecosystems shifts and to tackle 2013 Chokka Squid crash, a disaster that lasted 18 months, pushing the industry to the brink of permanent collapse and shattering livelihoods of some 35,000 people. Eight SOLSTICE PhD candidates, seven of whom are women, were enrolled at the OSC in 2018. Their research topics have been carefully planned to fit into the SOLSTICE Case Study research plan which tackles the Agulhas Bank ecosystem, and include ocean physics, phytoplankton, zooplankton, benthic nepheloid layer dynamics, fisheries modelling, social dynamics, and food security. The students are co-supervised by senior research scientists at NMU and the UK, and receive their initial training at the National Oceanography Centre, UK. SOLSTICE has also employed a senior engineer to support the student projects. Key research findings
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation Bayworld Centre for Research and Education
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean
Country Kenya 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation Heriot-Watt University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute
Country Kenya 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation Nelson Mandela University
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation Rhodes University
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute
Country Tanzania, United Republic of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation University of Cape Town
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description SOLSTICE Partners 
Organisation Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association
Country Tanzania, United Republic of 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution To be confirmed
Collaborator Contribution To be confirmed
Impact To be confirmed
Start Year 2018
 
Description Science into policy working group In Tanzania and Kenya 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The main objective of the Science into Policy Working Group is to maximise uptake of SOLSTICE research outcomes in policies and management plans at three levels: regional, country and transboundary in three SOLSTICE Case Studies. One of the key challenges facing the Working Group is the short (4 year) duration of the project which involves a substantial amount of primary research. Thus research and science into policy activities will have to be run in parallel rather than sequentially. To meet this challenge, WG's specific objectives include:
• Early reviews of likely scientific outcomes of potential relevance to policy and management plans
• Early identification of existing/planned policies, management plans and issues to which SOLSTICE outputs can contribute to
• Consultations with relevant stakeholders to ensure that relevant research outputs (peer reviewed publications) are aligned with identified issues
• Production of non-academic material translating project scientific outcome into policy-optimal format
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Tanzania Fishery Communities Stakeholder Workshop for SOLSTICE Marine Robotics Fieldwork Campaigns 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Tanzania Fishery Communities Stakeholder 2 day Workshop was held in Stonetown, Zanzibar on the 19th and 20th of March 2018. It brought together fisheries officers, MPA managers, journalists with staff from SOLSTICE partners from the UK and Tanzania. Their task was to plan community engagement activities that would have to take place in preparation for the marine robotics fieldwork in the Pemba Channel, scheduled for June-July 2019.

Local groups who may encounter gliders and other marine 'robots' during the Tanzania field campaign include fishers, dive operators and other tour operators and guides. Most will never have seen a glider, and may not even know the meaning of the word 'robotics', let alone be in a position to understand why this equipment is being used in the Pemba Channel. An information campaign to explain the purpose of the research, what gliders and other underwater autonomous vehicles (AUVs) do, and how the information they collect may ultimately benefit coastal communities in Tanzania is therefore essential. It is important that this presents the planned research in ways that are easily understood by the target audience, and includes information on what to do /not do if they should encounter a glider or AUV. The overall aim of the workshop was to develop recommendations on how to conduct this information campaign.

NOC staff presented outline plans for the campaign, and participants from Tanzania described existing community engagement initiatives, with which SOLSTICE could engage in order to inform people about marine robotics and plans for the campaign. Group discussions focused on developing a timeline of community engagement activities, and developing a 'wish-list' of communication resources that could be used to support these activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018