The marine environments of the Falkland Islands are spectacular hosting some of the world’s most intact and remote ecosystems. In order to protect and understand this unique marine environment, the Falkland Islands embarked on a long-term process of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) in 2014, which culminated in a network of proposed Marine Managed Areas (MMAs) - a term that includes Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), but creates a broader remit under which socio-economic and environmental objectives can be balanced. During the same period, SAERI, through partnerships and stakeholder engagement, created the Islands’ first comprehensive map of Falkland Islands coastal habitats, initiated projects on dolphins, seals and seabirds to understand important areas at-sea to inform the MSP process, and undertook a series of inshore and offshore research expeditions to better understand benthic communities. As a consequence, a rich and robust empirical data set supports the proposed MMAs, although opportunity for further research exists. The proposed MMAs, if designated, will protect near pristine marine wilderness areas that have little or no fishing impact, have irreplaceable globally important biodiversity and are ecologically representative of the Falkland Islands marine ecosystems, but presently do not have a legal framework for protection.

In 2021 SAERI developed a new Marine and Coastal Program Coordinator (MCPC) position, with the aim of securing long-term capacity and sustainability in Falkland Islands Ocean conservation, management and  research co-ordination initiatives associated with the proposed MMAs.

Project Objectives

The MCPC role enables SAERI to continue to support FIG through the provision of expertise, and advice to contribute to evidence-based decision making in collaboration with partners, stakeholders and the local community to deliver three main outcomes:
The local community of the Falkland Islands will be engaged in the Marine and Coastal environment of the Falkland Islands, and there will be a strong commitment from FIG to lead on Marine and Coastal Environmental coordination into the future.
The Marine and Coastal Environment of the Falkland Islands will be better understood through further funded innovative research, and robust data management.
Proposed MMAs will be strengthened through working closely with FIG and continued stakeholder engagement.

The MCPC will lead SAERI’s public engagement, and develop monitoring and research plans in support of MMAs. The MCPC will also continue to coordinate research. For example, research that seeks a broader understanding of Blue Carbon as a tool to inform future marine spatial planning. See our recent MCPC paper: Towards incorporation of blue carbon in Falkland Islands marine spatial planning: a multi-tiered approach in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science research topic - Blue Carbon: Beyond the Inventory:

In addition, to further support Falkland Islands Government (FIG) and provide a clear evidence-base for future planning, SAERI compiled a comprehensive  technical document to feed into the MMA public consultation held in April and May 2022. The compilation of the technical document, and much of the research presented, was made possible by funding from the John Ellerman Foundation and their financing of the Marine and Coastal Program Coordinator (MCPC) role.

Project Manager


Narissa has a PhD from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia, where she specialised on deep sea coral biodiversity, biogeography, connectivity, phylogenetics and conservation – across the Antarctic continental shelf and slope, the sub-antarctic, Patagonia and South West Atlantic. Her research agenda as a benthic-ecologist is open to meaningful collaborations, and currently includes the Antarctic Seabed Carbon Capture Change (ASCCC) project which aims to understand the function of polar and subpolar seabeds in the carbon cycle ‘Antarctic blue carbon’.

Narissa has worked as a marine scientist in tropical, temperate and polar environments, including five Antarctic field seasons, diving in Patagonia, conservation planning in Myanmar and specimen-based research in natural history collections around the world. She has witnessed some of Earth’s most spectacular biodiversity across a career inspired by Indonesia’s coral triangle ~17 years ago, and is looking forward to exploring the Falkland Islands over the next two and half years. In order to foster long-term research capacity over this time-frame, she hopes to coordinate at sea sampling and technology in unexplored mesophotic ecosystems (~30 – 100m) – where preliminary investigations have identified new biodiversity habitats in 2021. Including three previously unrecorded local marine-scapes, the first records for stylasterid coral assemblages, rhodolith beds (coralline algae nodules), and reef-like aggregations of parchment worms. Due to the rare frontier location of the Falklands at the intersection of the South Atlantic and Subantarctic – this research encompasses a vast geographic area of globally unique Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), and advances biodiversity protection and nature-based solutions to climate change.


The project is funded by the The John Ellerman Foundation 

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Ross Road, Falkland Islands
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