BCSS WIO Ocean Observatory joins the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON)

June 5, 2019 | Alex Weiss

The Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS) field station, located in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), today joins the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network’s (GOA-ON) collaborative effort to provide an international ocean monitoring platform.

The BCSS WIO Ocean Observatory project received a massive boost by joining the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). GOA-ON is endorsed, among others, by  UNESCO, the Global Ocean Observation System (GOOS) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 

This work will cover a region identified as in urgent need of basic data to identify the stresses the marine ecosystems are likely to experience and the best pathways to address these issues.

The project will be an important contribution to building capacity for the region and contributing to the GOA-ON Africa Hub, which brings together African scientists, their expertise and local knowledge to tackle ocean acidification”, Bronte Tilbrook said, from CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere & Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC.

Monitoring across spatio-temporal scales contributes valuable data to understanding the magnitude of regional pressures including climate change and human impacts/pollution on marine coastal ecosystems. These data help to inform key stakeholders – policy makers, management and law enforcement authorities such as the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park. (BANP), Administração Nacional das Áreas de Conservação (ANAC) and African Parks (AP). The data should filter down to local communities in the form of curated knowledge to guide conservation decision-making and is an important step in conservation both on an environmental as well as anthropogenic level. The functioning of these ecosystems is important ecologically and for artisanal fisheries, local communities and the growing eco-tourism industry that relies on them.

A diagram of how the different WIO Ocean Observatory components are integrated across disciplines, sectors and scales.

Beyond Mozambique,” says Bronte Tilbrook, “the effort will help to understand the problem for Africa and the globe by contributing to the GOA-ON network and reporting to the UN Sustainable Development Goal process and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Commonwealth group of countries, of which Mozambique is a member state, is also considering establishing an ocean acidification action plan through the Commonwealth Blue Charter, so this project has a number of ways to make an important international contribution.

The BCSS WIO Ocean Observatory assists in monitoring the impacts of climate change and anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems, habitats and species by providing environmental variables long-term time-series data to understand change at the local, regional, and national scale. Its initial stage is being implemented in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (BANP). It will directly provide data and information on the levels of disturbance to the area by addressing core parameters such as nutrient loads, major and minor elements (including heavy metals), seawater temperature changes, dissolved oxygen (DO levels), total alkalinity, dissolved carbon, and CO2. The Observatory innovates with its multi-ecosystem approach to separate sources and inputs and segregate them by both habitat and ecosystem. 

Coupled with the BCSS Field Station, the WIO Ocean Observatory is a source of employment, owing to the many jobs needed in research, management and maintenance – currently, 80 – 90% of BCSS employees are from the local community. Although, the continued growth of this project opens up even more exciting opportunities to train, engage, and educate a new generation of researchers and studentsfilmmakersvolunteersocean enthusiasts and participant institutions to benefit from the unique location of the BANP and BCSS within the WIO region. It is an open platform for external researchers to join/collaborate and/or add their tools to facilitate project development, data exchange, trans-disciplinary collaborations and information transfer to relevant stakeholders for effective ocean conservation.