10 October 2008: IMO Sends Positive Signals for Cetaceans

The 58th Session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 58) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was held on 6-10 October 2008 in the IMO headquarters in London, UK.

Two items on the Committee's agenda were of direct interest to CMS and its cetacean-related agreements: 1) The development of a guidance document for minimising the risk of ship strikes with cetaceans (Agenda Item 18)

The inclusion of ship strikes in the work programme of the committee was decided at its last meeting. Ship strikes of cetaceans remain a serious threat to the survival of several species or populations and the increasing number of vessels travelling at high speeds is a serious concern for a UN conservation body like CMS and the regional cetacean agreements ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS. Ships strikes are not only a conservation concern, though, but have also serious economic and safety impacts. The migratory nature of most cetacean species requires mitigation efforts across their entire migratory range. In order to be effective, these measures need to be coordinated and consistent; requiring close cooperation between the different intergovernmental bodies whose mandate is to protect the marine environment.
The United States had provided a draft guidance document on ship strikes, which was endorsed by the Parties as interim guidance and which will be refined at the next meeting of the Committee. UNEP/CMS stands ready to support the MEPC in this respect.

2) The proposal to include a new work programme item on the agenda of the MEPC on minimising the introduction of incidental noise from commercial shipping operations into the marine environment to reduce potential adverse impacts on marine life (Agenda Item 19).
Growing levels of noise pollution in our oceans are a serious concern for CMS and its cetacean-related agreements. Therefore, UNEP/CMS is pleased to note that IMO Parties endorsed the proposal made by the United States to address the issue of marine noise in the framework of the IMO MEPC.

In an evening side event, the representative of the UNEP/CMS Secretariat, also on behalf of ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS, gave a presentation on the activities of these bodies with respect to ship collisions of cetaceans and marine noise. The presentation was noted with interest by the attendees and information material could be distributed.

Last updated on 25 March 2014

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