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 (WEF011019)
Department Name: Science and Technology


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.



Michael John Roberts (Principal Investigator) orcid
Andrew Yool (Co-Investigator) orcid
Razack Lokina (Co-Investigator)
Stuart Carl Painter (Co-Investigator)
Charles Magori (Co-Investigator)
Tim Le Bas (Co-Investigator) orcid
Jose Fernandes (Co-Investigator)
Stephanie Anne Henson (Co-Investigator) orcid
Joseph Nyingi Kamau (Co-Investigator) orcid
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)
Eleni Papathanasopoulou (Co-Investigator)
Brian James Bett (Co-Investigator) orcid
Shigalla Mahongo (Co-Investigator)
Ana De Moura Queiros (Co-Investigator)
Icarus Allen (Co-Investigator)
Harrison Ochieng Ong'anda (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)
Margaux Alienor Noyon (Co-Investigator)
Baraka Sekadende (Co-Investigator)
Henry Ruhl (Co-Investigator)
Helen Mary Snaith (Co-Investigator) orcid
Russell Barry Wynn (Co-Investigator)
Alex Poulton (Co-Investigator) orcid
Shankar Aswani (Co-Investigator)
Christine Pascale Gommenginger (Co-Investigator) orcid
Valborg Byfield (Co-Investigator)
Veerle Ann Huvenne (Co-Investigator) orcid


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Harris S (2020) Ichthyoplankton assemblages at three shallow seamounts in the South West Indian Ocean in Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography

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Jebri F (2022) Unravelling links between squid catch variations and biophysical mechanisms in South African waters in Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography

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Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/P021050/1 30/09/2017 31/10/2019 £6,934,488
NE/P021050/2 Transfer NE/P021050/1 01/11/2019 29/06/2022 £3,911,197
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.
Under the impact of natural and anthropogenic climate variability, upwelling systems are known to change their properties leading to associated regime shifts in marine ecosystems. These often impact commercial fisheries and societies dependent on them. In a region where in situ hydrographic and biological marine data are scarce, this study uses a combination of remote sensing and ocean modelling to show how a stable seasonal upwelling of the Kenyan coast shifted into the territorial waters of neighboring Tanzania under the influence of the unique 1997/98 El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole event.

Pemba Channel Case Study:

Small pelagic fisheries provide food security, livelihood support and economic stability for East African coastal communities ? a region of least developed countries. Using remotely-sensed and field observations together with modelling, we address the biophysical drivers of this important resource. We show that annual variations in phytoplankton biomass and fisheries yield are strongly associated. While enhanced phytoplankton biomass during the Northeast monsoon is triggered by wind-driven upwelling, during the Southeast monsoon, it is driven by two current induced mechanisms: coastal "dynamic uplift" upwelling; and westward advection of nutrients. This biological response to the Southeast monsoon is greater than that to the Northeast monsoon. For years unaffected by strong El-Niño / La-Niña events, the Southeast monsoon wind strength over the south tropical Indian Ocean is the main driver of year-to-year variability. This has important implications for the predictability of fisheries yield, its response to climate change, policy and resource management.

The eastern Pemba channel represents a hotspot area in Tanzanian and East African waters, for a variety of marine species including small pelagics and coral reef
associated species. Its marine resources are vital for the local populations, which depend mainly on artisanal fishing for their income and food security. One of our key studies studies examined the links between mackerel fish catch, one of the important small pelagic fish for direct consumption in the region, and changes in environmental oceanographic parameters over the period 2012-2018. The fisheries catch data is a rare local dataset, consisting of 7-years daily mackerel landings (from 2012 onwards) and supplemented by qualitative information on the mackerel fishery obtained through interviews with local stakeholders. We showed that seasonal variations in mackerel landings are positively (negatively) correlated with Chl-a (SST) with a 1-month time lag (i.e., biophysical factors change first, mackerel stocks follow one month later).

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.

Coastal ecosystems and the communities that rely upon them are facing extreme challenges of increases in ocean pollution, loss of habitat, ocean warming, and changes in ocean productivity. With the whole system under mounting pressure, governments need to scale down food security analyses to the coastal community level to avoid overseeing rising levels of food insecurity. We developed an alternative view and analysis of food security at both a national and community level taking into account these marginalised communities. The results propose a refined definition of marine food security and new quantitative methods to measuring direct and indirect reliance on fish within developing countries. Application of this concept and methods reveals that aggregated national statistics mask the extreme levels of dependence on fish for food security in coastal communities within Kenya and Madagascar. The Comoros, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Somalia appear to be the most vulnerable to increasing sea surface temperature, population, and fluctuation in total catch and will be severely affected by a changing Western Indian Ocean from a national, community, and individual perspective. Overall, the study highlights that governments need to disaggregate fisheries data and redefine measurements of food security to more accurately reveal the severity of the potential marine food insecurity crisis at hand.

For the countries bordering the tropical Western Indian Ocean (TWIO), living marine resources are vital for food security. However, this region has largely escaped the attention of studies investigating potential impacts of future climate change on the marine environment. Understanding how marine ecosystems in coastal East Africa may respond to various climatic stressors is vital for the development of conservation and other ocean management policies that can help to adapt to climate change impacts on natural and associated human systems. Here, we use a high-resolution (1/4°) ocean model, run under a high emission scenario (RCP 8.5) until the end of the 21st century, to identify key regionally important climate change stressors over the East African Coastal Current (EACC) that flows along the coasts of Kenya and Tanzania. We also discuss these stressors in the context of projections from lower resolution CMIP5 models. Our results indicate that the main drivers of dynamics and the associated ecosystem response in the TWIO are different between the two monsoon seasons. Our high resolution model projects weakening of the Northeast monsoon (December-February) winds and slight strengthening of the Southeast monsoon (May-September) winds throughout the course of the 21st century, consistent with CMIP5 models. The projected shallower mixed layers and weaker upwelling during the Northeast Monsoon considerably reduce the availability of surface nutrients and primary production. Meanwhile, primary production during the Southeast monsoon is projected to be relatively stable until the end of the century. In parallel, a widespread warming of up to 5 °C is projected year-round with extreme events such as marine heatwaves becoming more intense and prolonged, with the first year-long event projected to occur as early as the 2030s. This extreme warming will have significant consequences for both marine ecosystems and the coastal populations dependent on these marine resources. These region-specific stressors highlight the importance of dynamic ocean features such as the upwelling systems associated with key ocean currents. This indicates the need to develop and implement a regional system that monitors the anomalous behaviour of such regionally important features. Additionally, this study draws attention to the importance of investment in decadal prediction methods, including high resolution modelling, that can provide information at time and space scales that are more directly relevant to regional management and policy making.
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 .
Our findings on the dynamics of the North Kenyan Banks and the associated upwelling system supporting high productivity and fisheries are of critical importance for the Blue Economy plans by Kenyan Government.
Our findings on the mechanisms sustaining coastal upwelling in Tanzania is critical for teh development of the small pelagics fishery management plan.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

Description 1. South African Case Study SOLSTICE-WIO will have three major impacts in this case study: 1.1. Low squid catch Early Warning System. The collapse of the chokka squid fishery in 2013 had a devastating effect on the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. The reasons for the collapse were unknown, although local fishermen believed environmental change was responsible. SOLSTICE therefore investigates the key environmental and anthropogenic factors controlling the ecosystem dynamics of the Agulhas Bank. Early results appear to explain why the fishery collapsed, and moreover, have the potential to produce an early warning system that predicts low catch years with medium to high confidence, 10-12 months in advance. This allows steps to be taken by management that lessen socio-economic hardship ? namely the establishment of a pension fund, alternative occupations in the fruit and construction industry, unemployment insurance fund, and the issuing of multi species fishing licences. The project is currently preparing a summary for the Squid Working Group (SWG) (aiming to be delivered in October 2023) on the feasible use of such a warning system, as well as highlighting the remaining research gaps. The SWG is responsible for the sustainable management of the squid fishery, and resides within the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). 1.2. PhD training program in marine ecosystem shifts and food security. The GCRF-funded SOLSTICE-WIO project set up a PhD training programme at the Nelson Mandela University's new Ocean Science Campus (OSC), designed to build skills in marine ecosystem functioning with special emphasis on the detection of regime shifts and consequences for food security. Eight SOLSTICE PhD candidates, seven of whom are women, were enrolled at the OSC in 2018. Research topics were strategically planned to fit into the SOLSTICE research plan which focuses on the Agulhas Bank ecosystem. These included ocean physics, phytoplankton, zooplankton, benthic nepheloid layer (BNL) dynamics, fisheries modelling, social dynamics, and food security. The students are co-supervised by senior research scientists at NMU in South Africa and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and Heriot-Watt University in the UK. Initial training was given at the NOC, with subsequent visits during their studies. A senior engineer was employed by SOLSTICE to provide support for the student projects. This PhD program will be expanded into a 30-50-strong postgraduate training in 2021 with the assistance of the UK Newton Fund and the SA Government. 1.3. Establishment of a Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems at Nelson Mandela University Through the transfer of core, high-end technologies ? the GCRF-funded SOLSTICE project initiated a Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS) at the new Ocean Science Campus (OSC) at Nelson Mandela University (NMU). With strong local logistical, faculty and Government support, the new OSC has been chosen to be the hub for marine robotics in the UK-SA-WIO wide research network presently being established by SOLSTICE. The WIO-AMOS Centre, operating under the NMU Faculty of Engineering, will perform two functions: (1) Support WIO-wide research through the deployment and operation of 'off-the-shelf' robotics such as gliders. The Centre will host and maintain the robotics equipment with dedicated engineers who will also execute data collection missions. (2) Stimulate innovation in marine robotics, i.e. design and build new robots to support the ocean sciences, in collaboration with the National Oceanography Centre, UK. The Centre will have a strong training component involving postgraduate students from both institutions and the wider WIO. In preparation for WIO-AMOS, the Dean of Engineering, Prof Ossie Franks ? accompanied by two NMU engineers and postgraduate students ? visited the NOC MARS facility in May 2018 to learn of the latest developments in this field. On their return, NMU was awarded $850,000 over three years by the merSETA1 to initiate the new facility. Further funding from the South African Government to purchase a small fleet of robots and secure several jobs will be received on 1 April 2020. This is to be followed with a third grant in 2020, and facilitated by a 5-year appointment of a Chair in Marine Robotics. 2. Tanzanian Case Study 2.1. 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. 2.2. Identifying key climate change impacts on the marine environment of Tanzania Small pelagic fisheries play a major role in food security in Tanzania, including Zanzibar, and in addition employ some 15 000 people. Aimed at sustainability, the Tanzanian Government has developed the Small Pelagic Fisheries Management Plan, but this does not yet provide strategies on likely impacts of Climate Change. Research produced by SOLSTICE has now provided information that can address this missing knowledge gap. In addition, SOLSTICE is also contributing materials to the revision of the Government's 2012 National Climate Change Strategy which similarly lacks information on likely climate change impacts on the marine environment. Coordination and implementation of this Strategy is guided by the National Climate Change Technical Committee (NCCTC) and National Climate Change Steering Committee (NCCSC). Similar to the Kenya case study, the successful application of SOLSTICE core technologies ? ocean modelling, satellite observations and marine robotics ? coupled with ground-thruthing field campaigns, has enabled correlations between environmental parameters, drivers and fishery catches (biomass) to be elucidated that provide a powerful means of projecting ecosystem regime shifts with likely small pelagic catch responses. 3. Kenyan Case Study 3.1. Assessment of ecosystem shifts (climate change) and repercussions for fisheries on the North Kenyan Bank (NKB) The Government of Kenya has identified the NKBs as a new frontier for both growing the Blue Economy and food security. Support at national and local levels is currently being given to develop a fishery here for both local consumption and export. Little, however, is known of the region, its complex oceanography and resources ? and importantly the future given the rapid ocean warming presently being experienced in the WIO. SOLSTICE was designed to strongly support the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) in addressing these knowledge gaps needed to advance policy. Through collaboration in cruise planning, skills development at NOC, and the application of SOLSTICE core technologies of ocean modelling and satellite observations ? advancements have now been made which include a special issue of scientific publications, contribution to the revision of the National Climate Change Action Plan 2018-2022, and a forecast capability for ecosystem regime shifts. These will inform the proposed action plan that seeks to increase the offshore fishing fleet that aims to harvest the high productivity of the NKBs. They also assist the Kenya Government in developing the newly emerging management practice of 'Ocean Accounts' required for successful Blue Economy expansion. 4. Global influence. Impact on the UNCLOS negotiations of the legally-binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity within Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). The UN General Assembly has made a unanimous decision to start negotiations to establish an international, legally-binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity within Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). However, there has of yet been little discussion on the importance of this move to the ecosystem services provided by coastal zones in their downstream zone of influence. SOLSTICE conducted a critical study on the evidence of connectivity between the ABNJ and the coastal zone of the least developed countries. On the basis of these results a number of policy briefs were written for the project negotiators. The project has provided technical and strategic advice to the negotiators of the treaty. An information side event has been run during the negotiations in New York in April 2019. 5. Gender equality 5.1. Gender equality of the research team Although the team composition naturally changes from year to year due to career changes and movement of staff, SOLSTICE has approximately 65-35% split of female to male researchers including at senior level. In the early career research category, we have 80-20 ratio of female to male researchers, including marine technologies. 5.2. Gender equality of research beneficiaries The WIO is highly dependent on the ocean for social cohesion (45% of the fisheries workforce, including supply chains) is female) (RSCR-WIO, 2015). In Tanzania, the fishers are predominantly male, however the supply chain and associated services (markets) are predominantly female. Implementing gender equality has been a severe challenge in the South African fishery. This is primarily due to the small size of the squid fishing boats and that all fishers on-board share one very small and cramped sleeping cabin. Ablutions are very rudimentary and meals are eaten on deck. These harsh conditions are unacceptable for women. Additionally, isiXhosa cultural forbids women from doing a man's job. Woman are confined to house work, bringing children up and cooking. Nonetheless, the industry has been successful in bringing women into land-based factory operations where the squid are processed, packed and exported. In fact, nearly all factory workers are women, totalling about 300. Women are gradually also becoming involved in SMME administration.
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Citation in FAO report "The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA)" (citing Popova et al., 2019)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The research publication Popova et al., 2019 has been highlighted in the FAO report The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) with respect to the importance of the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction to teh coastal coastal communities especially in the least developed countries. Areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) cover 40 percent of the surface of the planet, or 62 percent of the total ocean surface area. Their living resources have long been utilized, whereas, in recent years, their non-living marine resources have become increasingly utilized. The ABNJ do not belong to any single State; instead, under UNCLOS, they are managed through a suite of agreements and global and regional bodies, each with its own mandate and priorities. All nations with a "real interest" in the ABNJ share responsibility for the proper management and conservation of ABNJ resources and biodiversity. Despite the vast geographical extension of the ABNJ, the current understanding of their role, influence and importance to coastal waters is limited. There is increasing evidence that ABNJ and coastal waters are closely connected, and that activities in ABNJ can influence coastal zones (Popova et al., 2019).