Marine Atlas: Maximizing Benefits for Vanuatu

BEYOND THE HOTSPOTS: BIOREGIONS Ideally ecosystem-based marine planning should be based on comprehensive data that represents all of Vanu- atu’s marine plants and animals. This data, however is rarely available for any country. To overcome this limita- tion, surrogates can be used to classify the marine environment into spatial units, or bioregions, that host similar plants and animals.

The GOODS biogeographic classification from 2009 is an example of a global bioregionalization.

classify the marine environment into spatial units, or bioregions, that can host similar plants and animals. These surrogates include factors such as salinity (see also chapter “Go with the flow”), pH (see chapter “Turning sour”) or phosphate concen- tration (see chapter “The dose makes the poison”). Analysing and c lustering such data results in spatial units, called marine “bioregions”. These bioregions present comprehensive descriptions of the marine biodiversity of Vanuatu and can be used for conservation, management and planning. Such marine classification and the use of biore- gions is not a new concept, as bioregions have been produced before at various scales in other

countries, regions and globally, including some that encompass Vanuatu. The graphic provides one example of a global bioregionalization, the Global Open Oceans and Deep Seabed (GOODS) biogeographic classification, undertaken by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009. Classifications such as GOODS are very useful on a global scale. However, Vanuatu’s large EEZ is divided into merely three bioregions, making the existing classifications of the marine environments, both coastal and offshore, too coarse to inform most national marine planning processes in Vanua- tu. This calls for more detailed bioregions to inform marine planning. In 2016, in-country experts came together to describe preliminary marine bioregions for Vanuatu, supported by the MACBIO project. These include nine deepwater and seven coastal bioregions (Wendt et al., forthcoming), as shown on the map. Using these bioregions as substitutes to describe the suite of marine biodiversity in Vanuatu, an ecologically representative system of managed and protected areas can be built. This is done by representing an example of every bioregion within an area, as well as examples of all known habitats and ecosystems (see also chapters “Nature’s hot- spots” and “Special and Unique Marine Areas”). The bioregional approach assists planners with the fact that not all habitats and ecosystems are known and mapped.

To sustainably manage and protect Vanuatu’s rich marine recourses, its government is commit- ted to delivering a comprehensive, ecologically representative network of managed and protected marine areas (see also chapter “Vanuatu’s com- mitment to marine conservation”). Ideally ecosys- tem-based marine planning should be based on comprehensive biodiversity data that represent all of Vanuatu’s marine plants and animals in its entire marine environment. While a lot of data are accessible—as the maps in this atlas show—comprehensive data are not avail- able for any country, including Vanuatu. To over- come this limitation, surrogates must be used to




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