Welcome to the ASCLME Project

Between 2008 and 2013, the nine countries of the western Indian Ocean region, including Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa and Tanzania, will work together through the UNDP supported GEF financed Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems (ASCLME) Project.


ASCLME Project

The five-year Agulhas and Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems (ASCLME) project is centred on the two large marine ecosystems (LMEs) of the western Indian Ocean region. These are the Somali Current LME – which extends from the Comoros Islands and the northern tip of Madagascar up to the horn of Africa – and the Agulhas Current LME which stretches from the northern end of the Mozambique Channel to Cape Agulhas.

The ASCLME project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The goal of the ASCLME project is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the living resources of the ASCLME region by introducing an ecosystem-based approach to management.

The overall project objectives are:

  • To acquire sufficient baseline data to support an ecosystem-based approach to the management of the Agulhas and Somali Current LMEs.
  • To produce a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) and Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for both the Agulhas Current and Somali Current LMEs.

The project aims to address the Agulhas and Somali Current LMEs under one initial assessment process because (i) this is a more cost-effective approach for the GEF and (ii) the two systems are closely interlinked. In fact, the project also intends to extend the assessment to include the Mascarene Plateau. There is existing data and strong evidence that this plateau to the east of Madagascar exerts a considerable influence on both LMEs through its effects on the South Equatorial Current, a primary driver of both the Agulhas and Somali current systems. The information from this assessment and data collection phase will, be used to develop discrete TDAs and eventually SAPs for the ACLME and SCLME, and possibly help to confirm the presence of a Mascarene Plateau LME so as to allow consideration to be given for initiating a TDA and SAP process for this area at a later date.

Detailed outcomes, outputs and deliverables have been prepared to guide the implementation of the ASCLME project. The outputs and deliverables effectively set out the project activities within a clearly defined timeframe.

A series of well coordinated oceanographic research cruises is planned to gather information about the oceanography and living marine resources of the two LMEs. The coastal resources and their critical link to the well-being of coastal communities will also come under intense scrutiny. An estimated 56 million people, living in the nine countries of the region, are dependent on the resources of the two LMEs.

The Agulhas and Somali currents have a major influence on the societies and economies of the Western Indian Ocean region but there are large gaps in our understanding of their oceanographic processes, biodiversity and other fundamentals. For example, scientists estimate that less than 50 percent of marine species off the east coast of Africa have been described.


News from the ASCLME Project

Data and Information

Substantial amounts of data collected by government and donor-funded marine scientists around the world are not routinely archived in data centres. Even if published, the original data are irretrievably lost to studies of long-term (environmental) change over time.

The ASCLME Project has developed an integrated data and information management plan to ensure that data collected during the duration of the ASCLME project, and thereafter, are not only tracked and monitored to the stage of publication, but that data sets are also archived in national data centres for the ongoing benefit of participating countries. You may read more about this in the Principles and guidelines for ASCLME Data management and in the ASCLME Regional Data and Information Management Plan.

Having participating countries actively involved in managing data and developing information products is required to build country ownership of the TDA/SAP process. International best practices and standards for data management will be followed in all cases. Together with capacity building interventions, this approach aims to support the goal of sustainable national data archives that countries can use for ecosystem monitoring and management in the long term.

The information collected and generated by the ASCLME Project will be used in the synthesis of a national Marine Ecosystem Diagnostic Analysis (MEDA) for each country. This synthesis of information will inform the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) and Strategic Action Programme (SAP) which are the formal outputs of the Projects.

Access data and information for the ASCLME region.

The Data and Information section of the ASCLME Project is coordinated by Lucy Scott.

The ASCLME Project is represented in Google Ocean, a kml file is available here if you would like to see our entry.


The ASCLME project is driven at policy and strategic level by a Project Steering Committee (PSC) which comprises a core membership including one representative from each project member country and one representative each of:

  • the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP)
  • the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
  • the Global Environment Facility (GEF)
  • the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
  • the Nairobi Convention
  • the project managers of the regional sister projects SWIOFP and WIO-LaB
  • the Regional Coastal Management Programme of the Indian Ocean Countries (ReCoMaP)

Somalia has special status as a country observer.
Additional observer members may be agreed to by the PSC core membership. This could include donor agencies providing co-finance (e.g. France, Norway) and technical agencies (e.g. NOAA, FAO).