Participants of the 10th ASCOBANS Jastarnia Group Meeting © C. Pagel
Bonn, 7 April 2014 - In its 10th Meeting, held at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany from 1-3 April 2014, the ASCOBANS Jastarnia Group, which deals with the action plans adopted for harbour porpoises in the wider Baltic Sea region, had exciting new information to consider. The 20 participants, who are experts representing the environmental and fisheries sectors of their countries, as well as civil society and the ASCOBANS Secretariat, were presented with the latest interim results of the SAMBAH project (Static Acoustic Monitoring of the Baltic Sea Harbour Porpoise). Filling one of the long-standing gaps in knowledge relating to abundance and distribution of the critically endangered population in the Baltic Proper, and the adjoining western Baltic population, the results of this project will be very helpful in informing conservation policy.
The Group stressed that bycatch in fisheries remains the highest threat for harbour porpoises. A high priority in this respect is the replacement of the most harmful gear, set gillnets, with alternative gear that is considered less harmful, especially in current and future Natura 2000 sites (SACs) where harbour porpoises form part of the selection criteria. By prioritizing the elimination of bycatch, Parties simultaneously implement the two ASCOBANS action plans, and work towards achieving a favourable conservation status for Baltic harbour porpoises as required under the Habitats Directive. Integration with the European Union's Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) was also seen as crucial for success.
On the margins of the meeting, the Secretariat presented the ASCOBANS Lifetime Award to Dr. Karl-Hermann Kock, who was selected for this recognition by the 20th Meeting of the ASCOBANS Advisory Committee (Warsaw, Poland, September 2013).
The report and recommendations of the Group, which cover ways to reduce bycatch, involve stakeholders, strengthen research and monitoring, manage marine protected areas effectively, improve public awareness and cooperate with other entities, will become available on this website shortly.
Last updated on 07 April 2014