Global EBSAs coloured by the year they were adopted. Note that the boundaries of the EBSAs adopted in Dec 2016 are not yet available online.
Base ocean imagery from ArcGIS 10.4; sources: Esri, GEBCO, NOAA, National Geographic, DeLorme,, and other contributors.
EBSA boundaries: downloaded from



Follow the history of EBSAs below

For ease of reference, Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are highlighted in green. Elements of the history that pertain specifically to the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) are given in light blue text.


Ad hoc Open-ended Working Group on Protected Areas established

At COP 7 in 2004, an Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Protected Areas (hereafter, Working Group) was established, inter alia, to explore options for establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) in a way that was science based, and consistent with international law.

Meetings in Italy and Ottawa

The Working Group met in 2005 in Italy. Later that year in Ottawa, an expert meeting was also held.


Criteria workshop requested

Based on the outcomes of the two meetings in 2005, it was requested at COP 8 in 2006 that the CBD Secretariat arrange a meeting at which biogeographical and other ecological classification systems, and scientific criteria to identify marine areas in need of protection could be discussed and compiled.

Azores meeting

This meeting: Expert Workshop on Ecological Criteria and Biogeographic Classification Systems for Marine Areas in Need of Protection, was held in Azores in 2007.


EBSA criteria adopted

At COP 9 in 2008, the 7 EBSA criteria developed at the Azores meeting were adopted.


COP 10

Regional meetings proposed

It was proposed at COP 10 in 2010, that regional meetings should be held to identify EBSAs. Governments were also encouraged to cooperate to identify and adopt appropriate conservation and sustainable-use measures in EBSAs, including establishing networks of representative MPAs in accordance with international law.

2 regional meetings held

Following the recommendation at COP 10, the first two regional meetings were held in 2011 covering the Western South Pacific, and the Wider Caribbean and Western Mid-Atlantic Regions.

COP 11

First 47 EBSAs adopted proposed

EBSA proposals developed during the two regional meetings were presented at COP 11 in 2012, resulting in the world’s first 47 EBSAs being adopted. COP 11 Decision XI/17

7 regional meetings held, including the SEA and SIO regions

In 2013, seven more regional meetings were held, including the South East Atlantic (SEA) and the Southern Indian Ocean (SIO) Regional Meetings, where, inter alia, EBSAs in the BCLME and the rest of South Africa were identified, respectively.

COP 12

157 more EBSAs adopted, including BCLME EBSAs; MARISMA project starts

Proposed EBSAs from the seven regions were presented to CBD at COP 12 in 2014, and 157 more EBSAs were accepted, including those from the BCLME and South Africa. COP 12 Decision XII/22

In the BCLME, the Marine Spatial Management and Governance Programme (MARISMA) started, which incorporates EBSAs into a regional marine spatial plan to help develop sustainable use of the ocean in the Benguela Current region.

3 regional meetings held

Three more regional meetings were held for the East Asian Seas, and the North-East and North-West Indian Ocean and adjacent Gulf Area Regions.

COP 13

75 more EBSAs adopted; MARISMA EBSA team appointed

Proposed EBSAs from the three regions were presented to and accepted by CBD at COP 13 in 2016. CBD/COP/DEC/XIII/12

MARISMA contracts a team led by the Institute for Coastal and Marine Research (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University) to provide technical support to the EBSA work area.

BCLME EBSA review starts

MARISMA’s EBSA work area reviews current EBSAs in the BCLME and starts developing proposals for new EBSAs in the region (with South Africa including their Southern Indian Ocean EBSAs in the review as well).