25 November 2011- After intense negotiations over the entire week, Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) adopted numerous resolutions that call for better protection of marine species, including cetaceans. Besides decisions of an overarching nature on topics such as ecological networks (Res.10.3) or climate change (Res.10.19), four resolutions focus specifically on marine species.
Res.10.4, originally proposed by the Government of Australia, highlights the negative impacts of marine debris on migratory species, caused by ingestion, entanglement and habitat degradation. Besides a call for the identification of hotspots where marine debris accumulates and originates, Parties are encouraged to develop and implement their own national plans of action to address this problem, and to report available information on the amounts, impacts and sources of marine debris within their waters in their national reports.
Res.10.14 deals with bycatch of CMS-listed species in gillnet fisheries. This widely used fishing method has so far received relatively little international attention when it comes to its impacts on migratory species and the assessment of mitigation methods. Seeking to fill that gap, CMS Parties are calling for national assessments of the risk of bycatch arising from their gillnet fisheries, and urged the implementation of best practice mitigation measures tailored to each particular situation. Mitigation measures should be regularly reviewed in order to evaluate their effectiveness, also bearing in mind any effects on other taxa, and research to identify and improve them should be carried out.
Res.10.15 adopts a global programme of work for cetaceans. The mandate to develop this work programme had come from Res.8.22 on human-induced impacts on cetaceans. The resolution instructs the Aquatic Mammals Working Group (AMWG) of the CMS Scientific Council to work intersessionally on the actions requested in the work programme and to invite external experts to participate in these activities. The detailed work programme instructs the CMS Secretariat, the Scientific Council and in particular the AMWG to enhance collaboration with other relevant bodies, including CMS Agreements, to address jointly the threats identified for each region. For the North East Atlantic Ocean, entanglement and bycatch as well as pollution and noise pollution were weighted as high priorities.
Res.10.24 on underwater noise pollution was submitted to the COP by the European Union following the initiative of the Government of Germany. Building on Res.9.19 on the same subject, Parties focused especially on the impact of new or increasing sources of underwater noise, such as those from offshore wind farms and associated shipping. Parties are strongly urged to keep the emission of underwater noise to the lowest necessary level in order to prevent adverse effects on cetaceans, and the application of Best Available Techniques (BAT) and Best Environmental Practice (BEP) is recommended. The issue should also be integrated in the management plans of relevant marine protected areas.
The final versions of all resolutions passed by the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS will be uploaded on the CMS website shortly. ENB reports of the meeting can be accessed here.
Last updated on 25 March 2014