UK Marine scientists currently working in Antigua and Barbuda with the Department of Environment & ADOMS

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UK Marine Scientists in Antigua and Barbuda ahead of COP26 to characterise coastal environments and ecosystems producing blue carbon data and performing survey mapping.

As part of the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme a team of marine scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) and Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) are undertaking a series of surveys in Antigua and Barbuda to improve the country’s knowledge of its coastal environments and ecosystem services and inform its Nationally Defined Contribution (NDC) – a commitment made by the country to act on climate change.

NOC scientists are currently on the Island of Antigua conducting surveys and sediment coring field campaigns that will improve the understanding of the health, extent and importance of seagrass in capturing carbon.

Lindsy Thompson, Resident British Commissioner to Antigua and Barbuda stated: “I’m delighted that our scientific experts are undertaking this important work with their Antigua and Barbudan counterparts. Their efforts are a further example of the UK’s commitment to supporting Antigua and Barbuda as it delivers priorities identified in its Maritime Economy Plan. As we head towards COP26 in Glasgow, never has it been more important for our two countries to work together to ensure NDCs are met”.

NOC scientists are working with the Department of the Environment to measure both the depth and carbon-content of the Antiguan seagrass meadows, providing the first quantitative assessment of their blue carbon potential.

The marine surveys will also provide environmental and ecosystem information that scientists from Cefas will combine with recent Satellite Derived Bathymetry data to extend the seabed habitat maps developed under Antigua and Barbuda’s National Adaptation Plan.

The NOC’s lead scientist for the work in Antigua and Barbuda, Dr James Strong, believes understanding the blue carbon potential of the seagrass meadows will be relevant to other countries that have extensive seagrass habitats and are dependent on their marine ecosystems to guide sustainable economic growth.

Following completion of the NOC and Cefas environmental surveys, the UKHO will assist with complementary seabed mapping surveys required to support the habitat assessments and enable new navigational charts to be produced for greater situational awareness and safer navigation.

A team from the UKHO, led by Ian Davies, will support the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping, who have previously received equipment through the CME Programme to enable them to undertake seabed mapping.

The CME Programme is funded and delivered on behalf of the UK Government to aid Commonwealth SIDS.

It is led by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and aims to ensure marine resources that belong to Commonwealth SIDS are better understood and managed, with the aim of enabling sustainable and growing marine economies that create jobs, drive national economic growth, reduce poverty, ensure food security and build resilience.

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