Call for Expressions of Interest: Develop Guidelines for Cetacean-friendly Marine Spatial Planning

Bonn, 22 September 2022 - The ASCOBANS Secretariat is welcoming Expressions of Interest (EOI) from organisations or individuals to develop guidelines for cetacean-friendly Marine Spatial Planning for the ASCOBANS region.      

MSP is a tool for marine zonation, which ultimately aims for coexistence of human activities and sustainability within a healthy and resilient marine ecosystem. It can be defined as “A public process of analysing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives that have been specified through a political process. Characteristics of marine spatial planning include ecosystem-based, area-based, integrated, adaptive, strategic and participatory.” (UNESCO 2009).

MSP is one of the focal areas in terms of pressures and threats to cetaceans within the ASCOBANS work programme and national reporting framework. MSP is discussed and reviewed in a four-year cycle, in line with national reports. In the ASCOBANS context MSP is closely associated with cumulative impacts and managing these. In 2021 the 26th Meeting of the Advisory Council (AC26) discussed MSP, reviewed progress made within Parties and agreed action points to further advance the issue. During the discussions it became clear that there was insufficient guidance available for applying the ecosystem-based approach in MSP with regards to cetaceans. Only few Parties had made a potential link to underwater noise in their MSP, for example, and only in the German MSP were there specific spatial and temporal management measures for the harbour porpoise. One of the Action Points agreed at AC26 was therefore to prepare guidelines for cetacean-friendly MSP, with the aim to adopt these at the 10th Meeting of Parties in the context of a Resolution on the ecosystem-based approach. Such guidelines could then contribute to MSP processes more consciously incorporating measures to benefit the conservation status of ASCOBANS cetaceans, such as explicitly including underwater noise, managing collision risk, disturbance and ecological connectivity. Synergies between different legal and policy instruments could furthermore be strengthened. A working group was set up to oversee and support this process.

The scope of the work will include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following tasks:

Phase 1:

  • Produce an overview of potentially suitable measures which are included in national and international marine spatial plans today, which benefit the conservation status of cetaceans (given the presumed very low number of such measures, a global focus should be taken and potentially other relevant aquatic species with similar needs and sensitivities to cetaceans should be included in the assessment);
  • Consult with both MSP and cetacean experts throughout the development of the first draft of the guidelines to ensure interdisciplinary balance and cross-fertilisation;
  • Based on a review of relevant scientific and grey literature, as well as available guidance for applying the ecosystem-based approach in MSP, draft ASCOBANS guidelines for cetacean-friendly MSP;

Phase 2:

  • Lead an online review process, potentially culminating in an online workshop.Include key MSP and cetacean experts, as well as the intersessional Working Group and the ASCOBANS Secretariat.
  • Finalise the draft guidelines.

The initial contract will be for Phase 1.   Closing date for EOIs is 4 October 2022.   For further details, please refer to > 'Calls for tender'.


Last updated on 22 September 2022

News item