IUCN welcomes ECOMAR as a new partner to the Seamounts Project

02 October 2009 | News story

The Marine Ecology Laboratory of the University of Reunion (ECOMAR) has formally become a partner of the “UNDP/GEF Seamounts Project” led by IUCN, providing additional expertise and knowledge on seabirds ecology in the open ocean and areas of potential interest for future marine protected areas.

Dr. Matthieu Le Corre, Professor and researcher at ECOMAR, is one of the five 2009 Pew fellows in marine conservation. He was granted the prestigious Pew Fellowship for his work on the identification of oceanic hotspots of biodiversity in the Indian Ocean using seabirds as indicators. This research aims to help identify potential candidates for future marine protected areas in the open ocean.

My project is the first in the tropics to study seabird foraging patterns on such a large scale”, says Dr Le Corre. “My hope is that it will help to establish some marine protected areas and to improve the conservation status of many endangered marine animals of the region.”

IUCN is pleased to partner with ECOMAR, whose work is highly relevant to and complement the work IUCN is doing on improved management and conservation of important areas in the open ocean and the high seas. The partnership with ECOMAR also represents an additional source of in-kind co-funding to the seamounts project, evaluated at 200,000 Euros. In addition to the Pew Fellowship grant, this amount includes staff time for seabird census and data processing, seabird tracking equipment and provision of existing seabird tracking data.

IUCN is pleased to collaborate with organisations and projects that have similar objectives and that can reinforce each other”, says Sarah Gotheil, Programme Officer at the IUCN Global Marine Programme. “By providing ECOMAR with a research platform for seabird and marine mammal observation, IUCN will support the collection of data of global interest for seabirds and ocean protection”.

The IUCN-led Seamounts Project is the first project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), that is looking at management and conservation of areas beyond the limit of national jurisdiction. Its activities include a research expedition on five seamounts in the high seas of the southern Indian Oceans departing on 11 November from Reunion Island for 40 days. It is developed in partnership with ECOMAR, the Zoological Society of London, the EAF-Nansen Project executed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the UNDP/GEF Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems Project and the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme.

Click here to access the Seamounts Project Website.