Along the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) 60 million people depend on the ocean to survive. Yet, the region has the highest density of lowest-developed countries. Challenges such as overexploitation, global climate change, and habitat destruction threaten the marine ecosystem.
Supported by a Newton Fund grant, Professor Michael J Roberts leads on multidisciplinary research between the UK’s National Oceanographic Centre and the Nelson Mandela University in South Africa. His investigations into the marine ecosystem help to find new ways of protecting marine food sources and support coastal communities.
The team has successfully secured further funding under the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to expand the project. By utilising the so called “innovation bridge”, which includes the UK, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, coastal communities will have immediate access to state-of-theart technologies such as marine robotics and satellite observation. Support from GCRF and the Newton Fund has also enabled the opening of a new Regional Centre for Ocean Sciences & Marine Food Security at Nelson Mandela University. Research staff explore the dynamics of ocean ecosystems along the WIO, advance knowledge on changing sea temperatures, ocean upwelling and the impacts on fish stocks as a result of climate change.
“The Newton Fund has provided a salary and a small operational budget, allowing me to concentrate on setting up a UK-WIO research innovation bridge, building an Ocean Science & Marine Food Security Centre and obtain an £8m Global Challenges Research Fund project.” Professor Michael J Roberts, Research Chair, Ocean Science and Marine Food Security.