An international scientific partnership has been launched to help nations identify significant areas in the open ocean and deep sea that need protection. Facilitated by IUCN with support from the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI) will apply the best available science to analyze areas according to criteria adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2008. The criteria include ecological considerations such as uniqueness, vulnerability, diversity, productivity, importance to life history stages, and more.

Partners in the initiative include the Census of Marine Life, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System, Duke University’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Center, the Marine Conservation Biology Institute, the University of Freiburg (Germany), Birdlife International, and individual collaborators from several countries.

The September-October 2009 issue of MPA News described challenges involved in identifying significant areas in the deep ocean – an ecosystem that remains perhaps the least-known place on Earth (MPA News 11:2). GOBI was launched in September at a workshop of the Convention on Biological Diversity planned specifically to address those challenges. Kristina Gjerde, acting coordinator of GOBI, says the workshop was a success. “The workshop developed practical and user-friendly guidance with respect to 1) the identification of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction in need of protection, building on lessons learned from the wealth of national and regional experience described at the workshop; and 2) the use and further development of biogeographic classification systems to help develop representative MPA networks on the high seas,” says Gjerde.

A background document developed for the CBD workshop by GOBI, “Defining ecologically or biologically significant areas in the open ocean and deep sea: Analyses, tools, resources and illustrations”, is available on the workshop website at, and on the GOBI website at

For more information:

Kristina Gjerde, GOBI, Konstantin-Chylice, Poland. E-mail:

Carole Durussel, Project Officer – GIS, GOBI. E-mail: