Ecological connectivity between the areas beyond national jurisdiction and coastal waters: Safeguarding interests of coastal communities in developing countries

Ekaterina Popova, David Vousden, Warwick H. H. Sauer, Essam Y. Mohammed, Valerie Allain, Nicola Downey-Breedt, Ruth Fletcher, Kristina M. Gjerde, Patrick N. Halpin, Stephen Kelly, David Obura, Gretta Pecl, Michael Roberts, Dionysios E. Raitsos, Alex Rogers, Melita Samoilys, Ussif Rashid Sumaila, Sean Tracey, Andrew Yool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


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. Here, we identify the ecological connectivity between ABNJ and coastal zones as critically important in the negotiation process and apply several approaches to identify some priority areas for protection from the perspective of coastal populations of Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Initially, we review the scientific evidence that demonstrates ecological connectivity between ABNJ and the coastal zones with a focus on the LDCs. We then use 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. 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.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-102
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Mar 8 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-06-07
Acknowledgements: The initial workshop to generate the ideas took place in Seychelles in April 2018 with financial support from Sida. Data analysis was jointly supported by Sida and the UK GCRF project SOLSTICE (NERC grant NE/P021050/1). The modelling tools and approaches were supported by the UK GCRF project SOLSTICE and the UK National Capability project ACCORD. V. Allain was supported by the Global Environment Facility's Oceanic Fisheries Management Project #2. G. Pecl was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. D. Raitsos was supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under the Project No. 3268. This work used the NEMO ocean general circulation model ( and the ARCHER UK National Supercomputing Service ( for high resolution simulations of this model. Lagrangian analysis was carried out using computational tool ARIANE developed by B. Blanke and N. Grima.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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