RP4: Offshore (non-fisheries) marine resources for a sustainable blue economy

South and West Africa and Southwest Pacific

Led by Co-Directors Howell/Plymouth & Sink/Mandela

RP 4 tackles the science-policy disconnect in the deep-water marine environment: the most poorly understood ecosystem on our planet. It will carry out field-based sampling, desk-based study and lab-based research to advance knowledge of environmental changes and resource extraction impacts on vulnerable or functionally important deep-sea biodiversity. This seeks to support LMICs’ ability to decouple the blue economy from environmental degradation. It breaks new ground by investigating the potential of different resources (mineral, biological, freshwater) that may be subject to competing uses and are usually researched in isolation from one another. Offshore freshwater is a particularly under-studied resource that may become increasingly important with recurring water scarcity. Because of the expense of deep-water research, the field component focuses only on South Africa’s and Namibia’s exclusive economic zone and outer continental shelf, but includes researchers from Ghana and South Pacific for peerlearning and exploring the need for similar research in other regions. Findings will inform area-based management and benefit-sharing models under RP5, and contribute to RP2 visualizations of the ocean.