Recent Submissions

  • IOC Strategic Plan for Ocean Data and Information Management (2023–2029).

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2023)
    The purpose of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO is to promote international cooperation and to coordinate programmes in research, services and capacitybuilding, in order to learn more about the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas and to apply that knowledge for the improvement of management, sustainable development, the protection of the marine environment, and the decision-making processes of its Member States. (IOC Statutes, Article 2.1). The IOC strategy for Ocean Data and Information Management has been regularly developed and published in the IOC Manuals and Guides series since 2008. In 2017, the IOC Strategic Plan 2017–2021 provided a vision and concept for delivering an ocean data and information service for the “global ocean commons”. In 2021, the IODE Committee, at its 26th Session, called for the revision of the IOC Strategic Plan for Oceanographic Data and Information Management taking into account important developments within and outside IOC such as the IOC Medium-Term Strategy (2022–2029), and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) as well as the developments in data technology that offers new opportunities.
  • MSPglobal: international guide on marine/maritime spatial planning

    Iglesias-Campos, Alejandro; Rubeck, Julia; Sanmiguel-Esteban, David; Schwarz, Guido; Ansong, Joseph Onwona; Isaksson, Ingela; Quesada da Silva, Michele; Smith, Joanna; Suárez de Vivero, Juan Luis; Varjopuro, Riku; et al. (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission., 2021)
    Since UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) launched in 2017 their Joint Roadmap to accelerate marine/maritime spatial planning (MSP) processes worldwide, the number of countries that have initiated, advanced or approved their own MSP processes has increased significantly. Through the active and effective participation of policy mak-ers, representatives of maritime sectors, academia, citizens and other stakeholders in activities organised in all corners of the ocean, the MSPglobal Initiative has contributed to improving cross-border and transboundary cooperation where marine spatial plans already existed or were being prepared, and to promoting planning processes in regions where they have not yet been launched. As we enter this new decade, the goal set by the Joint Roadmap remains today to triple the marine area benefiting from MSP, approved and led by governments and their citizens and effectively implemented in more than 30% of marine areas under national jurisdiction by 2030. This is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and supported by national and regional initiatives in the framework of the United Nations Decades of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and on Ecosystem Restoration.
  • IOC Medium-term Strategy 2022–2029.

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2022)
    The ocean is the largest ecosystem on the planet Earth. It is also the key feature of how our planet looks from the Space. Humans have to find harmony in living with the ocean. To continue benefitting from the ocean life-supporting function, an equilibrium must be sought between the continuously increasing use of ocean space and resources and restoring and maintaining the ocean’s health, which is currently in rapid decline. This understanding is captured in the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The role of the ocean for climate, disaster risk reduction, future of island States is reflected in the Paris Agreement of UNFCCC, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA Pathway) and a number of regional, sub-regional and national action frameworks or development strategies. In the complex world we live in, with continuing and accelerating climate change, the success of all these frameworks depends on capacity of science to deliver needed solutions and on the ability and will of stakeholders to effectively use these solutions. The pivotal role of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO is therefore to bring together the scientific communities, the governmental decision-making system, and a broader set of stakeholders within our Member States, including the private sector and the civil society as a whole, to develop efficient, science-based integrated ocean and coastal management and corresponding solutions., taking in consideration relevant indigenous, local and traditional knowledge. Never in the history of our civilization has such cooperation been so urgently required. There is a need to mainstream ocean science for managing the ocean, The emergence of an international legally-binding instrument on conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) means that legally-binding obligations of nations are becoming increasingly ocean science-dependent. Successful execution of the IOC programme during the period of Medium-Term Strategy 2014–2021 and the IOC-led planning and coordination of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) brought IOC to the leading position in the work on systematic provision of ocean-related solutions to the global challenges of our time. However, the ability of IOC to deliver on its expanding mandate and respond both to the ambitions placed on the Decade and its Member States’ aspirations and needs will require, in turn, stronger support from governments, more authoritative decision-making capacity of IOC governing bodies, and adequate and reliable co-design of and investment in the whole value chain of modern ocean science.
  • Non-Paper on existing and potential future services of the IOC-UNESCO in support of a future ILBI for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2020)
    Given its unique role within the UN system and its current suite of services and activities related to ocean science, including capacity building and transfer of marine technology (CBTMT), the IOC could play an important role in the implementation of a future International Legally Binding Instrument (ILBI) for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The potential to make a strong contribution to the BBNJ process was recognised early on by IOC Member States. Since 2015, the IOC Governing Bodies (Assembly and Executive Council) have included a recurrent agenda item on the BBNJ process and adopted decisions supporting the active participation of IOC and its Member States in BBNJ meetings (BBNJ Preparatory Committee and the Intergovernmental Conference sessions since 2018). With the progress of the BBNJ negotiation process, the scientific services that will potentially be required to support the implementation of the ILBI are becoming clearer. The President’s revised draft text of the ILBI (November 2019)1 that will be considered in the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC-4) reinforces the central role of a Clearing-House Mechanism (ClHM) in the agreement, and identifies IOC as a potential manager of the CIHM in association with relevant organizations including the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The President’s note introducing the draft text also recalls the four principal topics that were identified in UNGA Resolution 72/249 for negotiations to develop an ILBI namely: (i) marine genetic resources (MGR), including questions on the sharing of benefits; (ii) measures such as area-based management tools (ABMT), including marine protected areas; (iii) environmental impact assessments (EIA); and (iv) capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology (CBTMT). The IOC has prepared this non-paper for the information of interested participants in the negotiation process. The non-paper has the following objectives: (i) To describe IOC’s existing services of relevance to the implementation of a future ILBI (refer Section 2). (ii) To identify the potential additional services, including an expanded ClHM that could be developed within IOC to support a future ILBI based on the current draft text (refer Section 3). (iii) To present an analysis of the potential contribution of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (the “Ocean Decade”) to the BBNJ process (refer Section 4).
  • Multiple ocean stressors: a scientific summary for policy makers.

    Beusen, Arthur; Boyd, Philip W.; Breitburg, Denise; Comeau, Steve; Dupont, Sam; Hansen, Per Juel; Isensee, Kirsten; Kudela, Raphael; Lundholm, Nina; Otto, Saskia; et al. (UNESCO-IOC, 2022)
    This Scientific Summary on Multiple Ocean Stressors for Policy Makers offers a reference for all concerned stakeholders to understand and discuss all types of ocean stressors. This document will help coordinate action to better understand how multiple stressors interact and how the cumulative pressures they cause can be tackled and managed. It is a first step towards increased socio-ecological resilience to multiple ocean stressors (Figure 1). Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM)1 recognizes the complex and interconnected nature of ecosystems, and the integral role of humans in these ecosystems. EBM integrates ecological, social and governmental principles. It considers the tradeoffs and interactions between ocean stakeholders (e.g. fishing, shipping, energy extraction) and their goals, while addressing the reduction of conflicts and the negative cumulative impacts of human activities on ecosystem resilience and sustainability. Thus, EBM is an ideal science-based approach for managing the impacts of cumulative stressors on marine ecosystems. The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030; Ocean Decade), which is based on a multi-stakeholder consultative process, identified 10 Ocean Decade Challenges. Challenge 2: Understand the effects of multiple stressors on ocean ecosystems, and develop solutions to monitor, protect, manage and restore ecosystems and their biodiversity under changing environmental, social and climate conditions addresses the overall outcomes of the Decade. In particular, outcomes aimed at a clean, healthy and resilient, safe and predicted, sustainably harvested and productive, and accessible ocean, with open and equitable access to data, information and technology and innovation by 2030. This Scientific Summary for Policy Makers is also a call to action underlining the urgency to understand, model and manage multiple ocean stressors now. We cannot manage what we do not understand, and we cannot be efficient without prioritization of ocean actions appropriate to the place and time.
  • IOC Communication Strategy for Marine Information Management (2015-2017).

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2015)
    This document outlines a framework for communication activities for 2015-2017 identifying new objectives while building on previous outcomes. It acknowledges the need to broaden the understanding of MIM by the wider IODE Data Management community and identify robust mechanisms, which will improve communication between IODE Officers and GE- MIM and with other relevant agencies in marine information management. This strategy will underpin the ability of GE-MIM to effectively raise its’ profile and ensure that there is an acknowledgement of the role of GE-MIM and the marine information profession and its potential contribution to the work of IODE. In this way, communications will directly contribute to the fulfilment of IODE programme goals and objectives with the aim to further build GE-MIM reputation and the credibility and relevance of its’ actions by formulating and disseminating messages on the activities and concerns of GE-MIM. Effective communications will allow GE-MIM to disseminate these outcomes in a targeted and efficient manner, thereby promoting marine information management.
  • Standard guidelines for the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme.

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2022)
    In December 2004, 227,899 people lost their lives and around US$10 billion were estimated as overall economic losses in the 14 countries affected by the 9.1-magnitude Indian Ocean earthquake. In response to the devastation caused by the earthquake and consecutive tsunami, the international community reinforced and expanded its initiatives to reduce the tsunami-related risk of coastal communities worldwide. In response, the Tsunami Unit of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO/IOC) was established. It aims to prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods that are caused by tsunamis, offering its support to IOC Member States in assessing tsunami risk, implementing Tsunami Early Warning Systems (EWS) and educating communities at risk about preparedness measures. Since 2015, the UNESCO/IOC has been promoting the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme as an international performance-based community recognition pilot consisting of key actions that help to reduce tsunami-related risks to individuals and communities. Through the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme, communities become aware of the risks they face from tsunamis and take steps to address them. To support current and future pilots, UNESCO/IOC commissioned the review and analysis of the Tsunami Ready Guidelines, which were initially established in the Caribbean, with the purpose of expanding the implementation of the programme globally. To this end, a desk-based review of all key documents and literature was conducted to assess the existing frameworks, documents and additional literature about the implementation of the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme in different regions Figure 1. Recognition sign delivered and countries. Likewise, interviews with to St Kitts & Nevis, in 2021. experts on the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme, as well as an online survey among relevant and experienced users, were conducted with the purpose of having a better understanding of the areas to be reinforced. This document presents the Standard Guidelines for the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme based on the review process undertaken. After this introduction, the second section of this manual includes the framework and background information; the third section identifies key issues concerning the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme and its methodological references; the fourth section presents the indicators to achieve the Tsunami Ready recognition, as well as the templates for requesting recognition; and finally, the fifth section contains the glossary of terms and a list of available tools and references to facilitate its implementation.
  • GE-CD Task Team report relating to the revision of the IOC Capacity Development Strategy 2015–2021.

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2021)
    During the second meeting of the Group of Experts on Capacity Development (GE-CD), a task team was established to conduct a review of the IOC Capacity Development Strategy 2015–2021, which is expiring at the end of December 2021. This information document presents a summary of the task team’s review, articulating the main elements that would justify a revision of the current Strategy: mainly the challenges and objectives promoted by the UN Ocean Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) and the outcomes of the 2nd GE-CD survey. Feedback from consultations with other global and regional programmes were also considered in developing the recommendations contained in this report. Based on this analysis, the Task Team recommends that the GE-CD continue its work on revising the IOC CD Strategy for the period 2023–2030, extending the current Strategy until 2023.
  • Guidelines for the study of climate change effects on HABs.

    Welles, Mark L.; Burford, Michele; Kremp, Anke; Montresor, Marina; Pitcher, Grant C.; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO; Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research; GlobalHAB (UNESCO-IOC/SCOR, 2021)
    Our planet Earth is changing. Marine and freshwater ecosystems are experiencing intense natural and anthropogenic pressures that will generate unforeseen changes in their struc-ture and functioning. The drivers of climate change have already altered the dynamics and interactions of the biotic and abiotic components in these ecosystems, and these changes are anticipated to accelerate in the future. Embedded within natural aquatic ecosystems are Harm-ful Algal Blooms (HABs) that are noxious to aquatic organisms as well as human health and wellbeing. There is concern that climate-driven changes will exacerbate HABs at a time when humans are increasingly reliant on aquatic systems for food and drinking water, livelihoods, mariculture and recreational resources. But there are many unknowns. What trends are evident in HAB distribution, frequency and severity? Might the drivers of climate change alter ecological out-comes to promote HABs? How might HABs and other planktonic species adapt to a changing environment? And, how can we prevent or mitigate future HABs impacts? These are only some of the important questions for which the scientific community should seek answers. The need to support this process forms the basis of the GlobalHAB Programme, launched by IOC UNESCO and SCOR, with the aim of promoting international and multidisciplinary coordina-tion of the research on HABs ( HAB science today is founded on studies dealing with a great diversity of topics and harmful organisms, using a variety of continuously evolving experimental methods and approaches. The rich insights obtained to date have been key to supporting research on the potential impacts of climate change on HABs. But more quantitative intercomparisons are now needed amongst studies as well as global comparisons of generated data, which is hampered by the diversity of methods and approaches that have brought us so far. The challenge to achieving greater harmonization of our experimental and observational practices is substantial, although it is acknowledged that this is not necessarily the case in all situations. The major aim of these guidelines is to communicate standardized strategies, tools, and protocols to assist researchers studying how climate change drivers may increase or decrease future HAB prevalence in aquatic ecosystems. These guidelines represent a first step that will help inform HAB scientists, students, and researchers entering the field, as well as scientists seeking to incorporate HAB studies into existing and developing ocean and freshwater observing systems.
  • IODE Quality Management Framework for National Oceanographic Data Centres and Associate Data Units.

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2019)
    The International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE)1 programme of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO2 maintains a global network of National Oceanographic Data Centres (NODC) and Associate Data Units (ADU) responsible for the collection, quality control, archive, and online publication of many millions of ocean and marine observations which are made available to Member States. In addition, it coordinates a network of marine information (library) managers. The IODE Committee has long held the view that there is a need for a quality management framework to ensure that NODCs and ADUs are established and operate according to defined principles, including adherence to agreed standards and the requirements of the IOC Oceanographic Data Exchange Policy. This will ensure NODCs and ADUs are able to provide data of known quality to meet the requirements of a broad community of users.
  • IOC and the Ocean Decade: contribution and interaction.

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2021)
    This document prepared by the Secretariat illustrates the continuous alignment and synergies between the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) and relevant programmes and activities of the IOC, in particular the High-Level Objectives and Functions of IOC defined in its Medium-term Strategy and the Outcomes set out in the Decade Implementation Plan. This information is particularly noteworthy as the Ocean Decade has now received endorsement by the UN General Assembly at its 75th session in December 2021.
  • MSPglobal - Compendium of existing and emerging cross-border and transboundary MSP practices.

    Quesada da Silva, Michele; Hwedie, Kwadwo Osei; Iglesias-Campos, Alejandro; Begmatova, Madina; Khalil, Aya; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2021)
    The project 'Supporting internationally accepted maritime spatial planning guidance' - MSPglobal for short - is an initiative by UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) to support their Joint Roadmap to Accelerate Marine / Maritime Spatial Planning processes worldwide (MSProadmap) (#OceanAction15346). Launched in November 2018 for a period of three years, MSPglobal aims to support international marine/maritime spatial planning (MSP) for the sustainable development of the blue economy, by enhancing cross-border and transboundary cooperation where it already exists and promoting MSP processes in areas where it is yet to be put in place. More specifically, it seeks to: - Develop a guidance on cross-border and transboundary MSP; - Increase awareness among governmental authorities and stakeholders about the importance of MSP; - Initiate an institutional coordinate dialogue between governmental authorities at regional, national and local levels, and - Increase cooperation between stakeholders. By providing the context for active and effective participation of policy-makers, scientists, businesses, citizens and other stakeholder, MSPglobal aims to improve governance at multiple levels and achieve an ecosystem-based approach in support of the blue economy. Doing so will require transparant data and information, sharing of best practices and new knowledge to inform, guide and support MSP at global scale.
  • The Case for a new governance for IOCINDIO: a proposal for changing the status of IOCINDIO in a Sub-Commission of IOC for the Indian Ocean.

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2021)
    This document was initially prepared in April 2020 by Dr M. A. Atmanand, Chairman of the IOC Regional Committee of the Central Indian Ocean (IOCINDIO), pursuant to IOC Assembly Decision IOC-XXX/3.3.4 (Paris, 26 June–4 July 2019) to consider the transformation of IOCINDIO, an IOC Regional Committee, into an IOC Sub-commission. The document benefitted from inputs from IOCINDIO Vice-chairpersons Faiza Al-Yamani, Kuwait, Mohammad Muslem Uddin, Bangladesh, and Satish S. C. Shenoi, IOC Vice-Chairperson, Electoral Group IV. The document was originally intended as a working document for the consideration of the Executive Council in 2020 before its postponement as a virtual session with a limited agenda in February 2021. Upon further reflection of the authors with the IOC Chair and senior staff of the Secretariat, a broad and inclusive consultation on this subject among IOC Member States was initiated through a virtual meeting (see IOC Circular Letter 2824) and a discussion at the next IOCINDIO session during the first quarter 2021. The progress on this issue will be reported by the Executive Secretary in his report to the Executive Council -53 and through a working document for the consideration of the Assembly in June 2021.
  • Evolving Capabilities of the ARGO profiling Float Network.

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC, 2017)
    Argo is a major contribution to the Global Ocean Observing System, and its initial development over the past 15 years represented a revolution in the collection of climate information in the global ocean, as well as a revolution in the culture of free and open data sharing amongst oceanographers. The capabilities of Argo are evolving, and this information document serves to transparently let IOC Member States know how it is changing, how they can participate, and how they can benefit.
  • The United Nations World Water Development Report 2020: Water and Climate Change.

    Pltonykova, Hanna; Koeppel, Sonja; Bernardini, Francesca; Tiefenauer-Linardon, Sarah; de Strasser, Lucia; Connor, Richard; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission; UNU-FLORES; WHO; UN-Water (UNESCO for UN-Water, 2020)
    Climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of water for basic human needs, threatening the effective enjoyment of the human rights to water and sanitation for potentially billions of people. The hydrological changes induced by climate change will add challenges to the sustainable management of water resources, which are already under severe pressure in many regions of the world. Food security, human health, urban and rural settlements, energy production, industrial development, economic growth, and ecosystems are all water-dependent and thus vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Climate change adaptation and mitigation through water management is therefore critical to sustainable development, and essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
  • Guide for Establishing an IODE National Oceanographic Data Centre, IODE Associate Data Unit or IODE Associate Information Unit (3rd revised edition).

    Rickards, Lesley; Pissierssens, Peter; Appeltans, Ward; Boyer, Tim; Garcia, Hernan; Reed, Greg; Scott, Lucy; Simpson, Pauline; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC, 2022)
    This document supersedes IOC Manuals and Guides No. 5 Rev. 2 (2008) ( which was entitled “Guide for Establishing a National Oceanographic Data Centre”. Taking into account the substantive evolution in information technology, capabilities of organizations other than existing IODE National Oceanographic Data Centres to manage and make available ocean data, information, products and services, the IODE Committee, at its 25th Session (2019) recommended the updating of IOC Manuals and Guides. This document is the result of that revision.
  • IOC Capacity Development Strategy, 2015-2021.

    Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC, 2015)
    Capacity building is an essential tenet of IOC’s mission: It enables all Member States to participate in and benefit from ocean research and services that are vital to sustainable development and human welfare on the planet. This Strategy’s vision identifies capacity development as the primary catalyst through which IOC will achieve its four high level objectives in the current 2014–2021 IOC Medium-Term Strategy. Over the past 55 years Member States have derived numerous benefits from IOC’s capacity development from the first International Indian Ocean Expedition to the revitalisation of African marine science coordination and establishment of the global tsunami warning network including the monitoring/forecasting networks that save lives (see addendum, section III). Reinforced partnerships between IOC and its Member States, other UN agencies, donors, and the scientific community have been the cornerstone of this success. During this period, the transformation of ocean science capabilities, accelerating threats to ocean health and ecosystem services, and the growing challenge of sustainable development require the IOC and its Member States to accelerate the pace of IOC capacity development. Resource constraints, both staff and funding, limit IOC’s ability to mobilise the necessary partnerships to address Member State science and services that will enhance human welfare and sustainable economic development. In 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted the Oceans and the law of the sea Reso lution   (A/RES/69/245) which reiterated the essential need for cooperation, including through capacity building and transfer of marine technology, “to ensure that States, especially developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States, as well as coastal African States, are able both to implement the Convention1 and to benefit from the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, as well as to participate fully in global and regional forums and processes dealing with oceans and law of the sea issues.” 2015 will mark the establishment of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which is expected to be integrated as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IOC has a unique international niche in ocean science, services and capacity development: (a) fostering international cooperation for sustained observations of the oceans; (b) generating oceanographic data and information products and services and interaction between research, operational, user communities and decision-makers in order to derive maximum societal benefit from new knowledge to achieve IOC’s High Level Objectives. The IOC will mainstream its natural and social science approach to capacity development in its Member States and, in particular, in Priority Africa, SIDS and Gender Equality. This strategic framework provides six outputs and numerous activities that are elaborated in detail below. These outputs call for investing in people and the institutions of which they are a part, enhancing access to scientific tools and methodologies, reinforcing IOC’s capabilities to provide services to Member States, enhancing the communication between scientific and policy makers communities, expanding ocean literacy in civil society and mobilising resources to accomplish these goals. While this framework provides general guidance on elements of an implementation plan yet to be developed, elevating IOC’s impact to the scale required is contingent on: • Reinforcing and valuing IOC staff at global and regional levels and, where necessary, participating national ocean scientific and governance institutions; • Integrating IOC global and regional mechanisms to rapidly expand Member State participation in IOC programmes: - Empowering IOC regional sub-commissions and other subsidiary bodies o engage with Member States, expanding collaboration and capacity development (including transfer of marine technology) on their coastal and marine affairs priorities - Strengthening global science programmes to increase scientific engagement with Member State coastal and marine priorities; • Recommitting to partnerships through the IOC with its Member States, UN organizations and other agencies, scientific community and civil society; • Mobilizing resources, e.g., personnel, funds, knowledge, and observing networks, to deliver the capacity development on which science, services and human communities depend; and • Continued attention to “enabling institutional conditions” as identified in discussions on “The Future of IOC”. The conclusions identify elements of a draft work plan including conducting needs assessments to establish CD work plans, mobilizing associated resources and enhanced communication and collaboration.
  • Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and desalination: a guide to impacts, monitoring and management.

    Anderson, Donald M.; Boerlage, Siobhan F.E.; Dixon, Mike B. (UNESCO-IOC, 2017)
    Arid countries throughout the world are heavily reliant on seawater desalination for their supply of drinking and municipal water. The desalination industry is large and rapidly growing, approaching more than 20,000 plants operating or contracted in greater than 150 countries worldwide and capacity projected to grow at a rate of 12% per year for the next several decades (; 2016). Desalination plants are broadly distributed worldwide, with a large and growing capacity in what will be referred to as the “Gulf” region throughout this manual. Here the Gulf refers to the shallow body of water bounded in the southwest by the Arabian Peninsula and Iran to the northeast. The Gulf is linked with the Arabian Sea by the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman to the east and extends to the Shatt al-Arab river delta at its western end. One of the operational challenges facing the industry is also expanding globally – the phenomena termed harmful algal blooms or HABs. Blooms are cell proliferations caused by the growth and accumulation of individual algal species; they occur in virtually all bodies of water. The algae, which can be either microscopic or macroscopic (e.g., seaweeds) are the base of the marine food web, and produce roughly half of the oxygen we breathe. Most of the thousands of species of algae are beneficial to humans and the environment, but there are a small number (several hundred) that cause HABs. This number is vague because the harm caused by HABs is diverse and affects many different sectors of society (see Chapter 1). HABs are generally considered in two groups. One contains the species that produce potent toxins (Chapter 2) that can cause a wide range of impacts to marine resources, including mass mortalities of fish, shellfish, seabirds, marine mammals, and various other organisms, as well as illness and death in humans and other consumers of fish or shellfish that have accumulated the algal toxins during feeding. The second category is represented by species that produce dense blooms - often termed high biomass blooms because of the large number of cells. Cells can reach concentrations sufficient to make the water appear red (hence the common term “red tide”), though brown, green and golden blooms are also observed, while many blooms are not visible. In this manual, we define toxic algae as those that produce potent toxins (poisonous substances produced within living cells or organisms), e.g., saxitoxin. These can cause illness or mortality in humans as well as marine life through either direct exposure to the toxin or ingestion of bioaccumulated toxin in higher trophic levels e.g. shellfish. Non-toxic HABs can cause damage to ecosystems and commercial facilities such as desalination plants, sometimes because of the biomass of the accumulated algae, and in other cases due to the release of compounds that are not toxins (e.g., reactive oxygen species, mucilage) but that can still be lethal to marine animals or cause disruptions of other types. Both toxic and non-toxic HABs represent potential threats to seawater desalination facilities. Although toxins are typically removed very well by reverse osmosis and thermal desalination processes (see Chapter 10), algal toxins represent a potential health risk if they are present in sufficiently high concentrations in the seawater and if they break through the desalination process. It is therefore important for operators to be aware when toxic blooms are near their plants so they can ensure that the removal has indeed occurred (Chapter 3). High biomass blooms pose a different type of threat, as the resulting particulate and dissolved organic material can accelerate clogging of media filters or contribute to (bio)fouling of pretreatment and RO membranes which may lead to a loss of production. Impacts of HABs on desalination facilities are thus a significant and growing problem, made worse by the lack of knowledge of this phenomena among plant operators, managers, engineers, and others involved in the industry, including regulatory agencies. Recognizing this problem, the Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC) and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) organized a conference in 2012 in Muscat, Oman, to bring HAB researchers and desalination professionals together to exchange knowledge and discuss the scale of the problem and strategies for addressing it. One of the recommendations of that meeting was that a “guidance manual” be prepared to provide information to desalination plant operators and others in the industry about HABs, their impacts, and the strategies that could be used to mitigate those impacts. With support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the IOC Intergovernmental Panel for Harmful Algal Blooms (IPHAB), an editorial team was assembled and potential authors contacted. For the first time, HAB scientists worked closely with desalination professionals to write chapters that were scientifically rigorous yet practical in nature – all focused on HABs and desalination. During the planning of this manual, it became clear from an informal survey of the desalination industry that generally, HAB problems are far more significant for seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plants than for those that use thermal desalination. Both types of processes are very effective in removing HAB toxins (Chapter 10), but the SWRO plants are far more susceptible to clogging of pretreatment granular media filters and fouling of membranes by algal organic matter and particulate biomass. Accordingly, the focus of this book is on SWRO, with only occasional reference to thermal processes. Likewise, emphasis has been placed on seawater HABs, with reference to estuarine and brackish-water HABs only when practices from those types of waters can be informative or illustrative. A brief synopsis of the book follows. Chapter 1 provides a broad overview of HAB phenomena, including their impacts, the spatial and temporal nature of their blooms, common causative species, trends in occurrence, and general aspects of bloom dynamics in coastal waters. Chapter 2 describes the metabolites of HAB cells, including toxins, taste and odor compounds. Methods for analyses are presented there, supplemented by detailed methodological descriptions of rapid toxin screening methods in Appendix 2. As discussed in Chapters 8 and 10, thermal and SWRO operations are highly effective in the removal of HAB toxins, but plant personnel should have the capability to screen for these toxins in raw and treated water to ensure that this removal has been effective. This would be critical, for example, if the public or the press were aware of a toxic HAB in the vicinity of a desalination plant intake and asked for proof that their drinking water is safe. Currently, most desalination plants do not collect data on seawater outside their plants, so they are generally unaware of the presence (now or anticipated) of a potentially disruptive HAB. Chapter 3 provides practical information on the approaches to implementing an observing system for HABs, describing sampling methods and measurement options that can be tailored to available resources and the nature of the HAB threat in a given area. Appendix 4 provides more details on methods used to count and identify HAB cells during this process. All are based on direct water sampling, but it is also possible to observe HABs from space – particularly the high biomass events. Chapter 4 describes how satellite remote sensing can be used to detect booms. The common sources of imagery (free over the Internet) are presented, as well as descriptions of the software (also free) that can be used to analyze the satellite data. It is relatively easy and highly informative for plant personnel to use this approach to better understand what is in the seawater outside their plants. The cover of this guide provides a graphic example of the incredible scale and resolution of this observational approach. Chapter 5 discusses typical water quality parameters that are measured online or in feedwater samples at desalination plants that could be used to detect blooms at the intake or evaluate process efficiency in removing algal particulates and organics. Emerging parameters that also show promise are examined to provide a resource for plant personnel. Chapter 6 looks at desalination seawater intakes that are the first point of control in minimizing the ingress of algae into the plant. A brief overview of siting considerations that may ultimately drive the location of an intake is also provided. One question asked frequently of HAB scientists is whether the blooms can be controlled or suppressed in a manner analogous to the treatment of insects or other agricultural pests on land. This has proven to be an exceedingly difficult challenge for the HAB scientific and management community, given the dynamic nature of HABs in coastal waters, their large spatial extent, and concerns about the environmental impacts of bloom control methods. Chapter 7 presents a summary of the approaches to bloom prevention and control that have been developed, and discusses whether these are feasible or realistic in the context of an individual desalination plant. Chapter 8 describes management strategies for HABs and risk assessment, including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Alert Level Framework procedures. Once a HAB is detected, a wide range of approaches can be used to address the problems posed by the dissolved toxins associated with those blooms. Chapter 9 presents many of these pretreatment strategies and discusses their use in removing algal organic matter and particulates to prevent filter clogging and membrane fouling. This is necessary to maintain effective plant operation and avoid serious operational challenges for the reverse osmosis step. The chapter covers common pretreatments such as chlorination/dechlorination, coagulation, dissolved air flotation, granular media filtration, ultrafiltration, and cartridge filtration, in addition to discussing issues experienced due to the inefficiencies of each pretreatment on reverse osmosis. Chapter 10 then addresses the important issue of HAB toxin removal during pretreatment and desalination, and describes laboratory and pilot-scale studies that address that issue. Finally, Chapter 11 provides a series of case studies describing individual HAB events at desalination plants throughout the world, detailing the types of impacts and the strategies that were used to combat them. These studies should be of great interest to other operators as they encounter similar challenges. The manual concludes with a series of appendices that provide images and short descriptions of common HAB species (Appendix 1), rapid screening methods for HAB toxins (Appendix 2), methods to measure transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) and their precursors (Appendix 3), methods to enumerate algal cells (Appendix 4), and reverse osmosis autopsy and cleaning methods (Appendix 5).
  • Toxic and harmful microalgae of the World Ocean.

    Lassus, Patrick; Chaumérat, Nicolas; Hess, Philipp; Nézan, Elisabeth; Reguera, Beatriz; Moestrup, Øjvind; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission; International Society for the Study of Harmful Algae (International Society for the Study of Harmful Algae and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 2015)
    This monograph reviews marine micro-algal species from all origins around the globe for their toxic or harmful character. We have considered the ex-pressions toxic and harmful in their widest sense, and have classified them into five groups: (i) high biomass bloom-forming species (harm from oxy-gen depletion and/or physical effects), (ii) producers of toxins affecting man through food consumption, (iii) species harmful to man through direct contact, including aerosolised routes, (iv) microalgae toxic to other marine organisms (e.g. fish or invertebrates) and (v) those that do not cause any of the above problems but have been found to produce toxins in culture as assessed by bioassays or chemical analysis. With this classification, 174 taxa are listed. This study has been undertaken in the context of the work carried out by different task teams of the Intergovernmental Panel on Harmful Algal Blooms (IPHAB) of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC of UNES-CO). Many efforts have been made to retrieve information from the peer- reviewed literature; much information has also been found from extensive and systematic reading of grey literature, including conference proceed-ings (mainly International Conferences on Harmful Algae and International Conferences on Molluscan Shellfish Safety) and reports of the ICES Working Group on Harmful Algal Bloom Dynamics. It is our intent that this review will serve the scientific community at large and provide a sound literature base for updating the IOC species list as appropriate. The references listed in this book will be made available to this community for regular updates. The authors are aware of the aims both of IPHAB to make a Global HAB Status Report and of GlobalHAB, a recent initiative to foster and enlarge research at the global scale to document and understand the changing occurrence and distribution of harmful algal blooms. In the first chapter, we reviewed literature to examine factors that may contribute to the changing distribution of harmful algal blooms around the planet. In addition to straightforward environmental factors such as nutri-ent loads and ratios, we also consider a number of more complex issues such as increased awareness and monitoring, ballast water discharges, climate change (including global warming) and overfishing. Subsequently, the liter-ature was examined for occurrence of individual species, and any apparent distributional changes. In this second part, a short taxonomic description is given for each species as well as its global distribution, major regional harmful or poisoning events and information on toxins produced, as appro-priate. We have found the numerous changes in taxonomic classification and associated name changes particularly challenging for assessing trends, and so have listed the basionym and syno nyms where appropriate. As this study aims to make a comprehensive review, we apologise for any omissions or misrepresentations and welcome comments from area managers, taxono-mists and the scientific community at large. The third section collates in-formation from the first two, as well as from other studies, that have exam-ined trends over longer periods, i.e. typically over several decades. Overall, studies converge to conclude that blooms are on the increase in many areas world-wide. Finally, while it has not been possible to treat every individual toxin analogue separately within the framework of this monograph, we have cross-referenced the toxin groups and taxonomic groups in two tables to give an overview of the toxin groups produced by all the species considered. An interesting finding of this review was that large uncertainty exists for most ichthyotoxic species concerning the compounds responsible for their toxicity to fish. The systematic literature search on taxa, toxins and regional events includes publications up to December 2014. The review is published as a bilingual edition (English and French) to serve as large a community as possible.
  • Harmful Algal Blooms. A scientific Summary for Policy Makers.

    Kudela, R.M.; Berdalet, E.; Bernard, S.; Burford, M.; Fernand, L.; Lu, S.; Roy, S.; Tester, P.; Usup, G.; Magnien, R.; et al. (UNESCO-IOC, 2015)
    • Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) result from noxious and/or toxic algae that cause direct and indirect negative impacts to aquatic ecosystems, coastal resources, and human health. • HABs are present in nearly all aquatic environments (freshwater, brackish and marine), as naturally occurring phenomena. • Many HABs are increasing in severity and frequency, and biogeographical range. Causes are complex, but in some cases can be attributed to climate change and human impacts, including eutrophication, habitat modification, and human- mediated introduction of exogenous species. • There is no plan, and nor realistic possibility, to eliminate HABs and/or their depend-ent consequences. Decades of research and monitoring have, however, improved our understanding of HAB events, leading to better monitoring and prediction strate-gies. • HABs are a worldwide phenomenon requiring an international understanding leading ultimately to local and regional solutions. Continued progress in research, management, mitigation, and prediction of HABs benefits from international coordination. In this spirit, the international community has developed programmes sponsored by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) to coordinate international HAB research, framework activities, and capacity building. • HABs are recognized as one facet of complex ecosystem interactions with human society. HAB research, monitoring, and management must be closely integrated with policy decisions that affect our global oceans. • New initiatives, such as GlobalHAB sponsored by IOC and SCOR, will continue to provide the mechanisms to further understand, predict, and mitigate HABs. Research, management, and mitigation efforts directed towards HABs must be coordinated with other local, national, and international efforts focused on food and water security, human and ecosystem health, ocean observing systems, and climate change.

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