In a pioneering effort to make the ocean wildlife and diverse eco-systems of the oceans surrounding UK overseas Terrirtories (UKOTs) more visible. A major network of underwater cameras are to be deployed to collect data and map habitats.
Funded as part of the UK Government Blue Belt programme, scientists from Cefas, the University of Western Australia and partners in the UKOTs are working with Blue Abacus, in a world first to supply and analyse the data collected from 66 non-intrusive stereo-Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS), which will be deployed in open ocean and coastal habitats.
Together these BRUVS will form the Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network, which will provide information on ocean biodiversity and ecosystems found in the vast maritime and coastal areas of the UKOTs in the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Ocean.
The systems used will enable researchers to see below the surface and provide a benchmark of scientific understanding of the marine species within their maritime area, allowing the UK overseas territories to take more informed decisions about protecting and managing diverse ecosystems.
Co-founder of Blue Abacus and Professor at the University of Western Australia, Jessica Meeuwig said:
The world’s tunas, sharks and large reef fish continue to decline in numbers and this trend must be reversed. This programme will give decision makers the evidence they need to act decisively in support of their blue economies.
We are delighted that the UK Government and Overseas Territories support the drive for increased knowledge as we rebuild our oceans. Our refinements to conventional underwater cameras are what makes possible the rollout of this programme over four ocean basins, the largest single such government-supported initiative globally.
We look forward to working with the communities in the Overseas Territories, building on their local knowledge and experience.