MiCO: Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean

International Consortium releases MiCO System

On April 1st, 2019 the MiCO System launches at the 2nd Intergovernmental Conference on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). Underlying the discussions and negotiations for a new international legally binding instrument are important considerations of how areas within and beyond national jurisdictions are connected, highlighted by the movements of charismatic and frequently threatened migratory marine animals.

MiCO aims to synthesize data on areas used by marine migratory species and the connectivity they generate, and to bridge the knowledge gap between scientists generating data and the fora producing management recommendations and policies (Figure 1). Areas use by migratory species in MiCO is partitioned into nodes (areas of non-migratory behavior such as wintering or breeding), and corridors (areas used by migrating individuals). In this prototype release, the MiCO System provides roughly 100 nodes and corridors for three species of seabirds (ancient murrelet, Chatham petrel, Cory’s shearwater), three species of sea turtles (green, leatherback, loggerhead), and one species of marine mammal (humpback whale). These products were developed using tracks from over 200 animals contributed by researchers either directly or via data warehouses and contain extensive metadata to support transparent decision-making. Nodes and corridors highlight species movements throughout the migratory cycle, connecting national and international waters (Figure 2), and demonstrating the amount of time and area used (Figure 3).

MiCO facilitates the inclusion of migratory connectivity in management and policy by developing freely available, usable knowledge. In particular, with easily accessible, geospatial population and life stage level detail on area-use and connectivity, users can extract critical information to support the development of area-based management tools, strategic environmental assessments and environmental impact assessments.

The ultimate success of MiCO hinges on its ability to complement and add value to existing data, projects, online repositories and observing systems.

To do this, MiCO partners with organizations to facilitate the delivery of existing products to management organizations and policy processes in a transparent manner with explicit acknowledgement of data contributors. Our aim is to synthesize across contributed data and existing products to provide the most comprehensive information available on how migratory species use and connect the oceans.

MiCO bridges gaps between reasearch and policy
Figure 1. By providing a platform of synthesized knowledge about migratory species area use, MiCO bridges the gap between scientists generating data and the fora producing management recommendations and policies.
Area-use information on the Cory’s shearwater distribution throughout its migratory cycle in the Atlantic Ocean
Figure 2. An example of the MiCO system, providing area-use information on the Cory’s shearwater distribution throughout its migratory cycle in the Atlantic Ocean. Individuals from two breeding colonies off the coast of Africa and Portugal migrate to at least four different wintering areas over five months of the year, before returning to the colony for breeding season.
Look at Cory’s shearwater in the MiCO System
Ranging type of area use of loggerhead sea turtles within the Moroccan Exclusive Economic Zone
Figure 3. An example of the MiCO system, highlighting the ranging type of area use of loggerhead sea turtles within the Moroccan Exclusive Economic Zone.
Look at the information available for the Moroccan EEZ