[MARMAM] Urgent Protection proposed for whale and dolphin habitats in the Mediterranean and Black Seas

Fran Mallion fran.mallion at wdcs.org
Mon Mar 5 04:46:48 PST 2007

WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society today welcomes new proposals for large areas of protection in the Mediterranean and Black seas for some of the world's most threatened whale and dolphin populations.  


Within the proposals, important areas for feeding, breeding and rearing young used by fin, sperm, Cuvier's beaked and killer whales as well as bottlenose and common dolphins and harbour porpoises are highlighted for protection from encroaching industry and pollution.


"These proposals are based on solid science and are some of the most far-reaching and significant to be recommended in European waters," says Erich Hoyt, WDCS Senior Research Fellow "They aim both to protect critical marine ecosystems as well as to reduce persistent threats to the whales and dolphins and the species and habitats they depend on."


The proposals are being formally recommended to the 20-country parties to ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area) by the ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee at the Meeting of the Parties later this year. WDCS calls on these countries to start the process to protect these areas.


Most far reaching of the plans is the inclusion of the entire Alborán Sea and Straits of Gibraltar (approx. 25,000 sq km), with substantial portions of the national waters of Spain and Morocco as well as the adjacent high seas. This region is the most productive and diverse area in the Mediterranean and features 10 of the Mediterranean's whale and dolphin species in high numbers. Yet the area is under intense pressure from fishing, including illegal driftnet fishing, as well as shipping traffic, and maritime pollution. 


Other areas proposed include:

1.	The Strait of Sicily (an area frequented by fin whales and various dolphins off Italy, Malta and Tunisia and on the high seas). This area requires further study to determine cetacean critical habitats and threats, and to identify appropriate boundaries.
2.	Amvrakikos Gulf (NW Greece) where about 150 bottlenose dolphins live in a semi-enclosed area which could function as a natural laboratory for research.
3.	Two areas important for Black Sea dolphins and harbour porpoises.
4.	Eight areas for common dolphins in the Mediterranean (5 in Greece, 2 in Italy, as well as the Alborán Sea, already mentioned).


Also announced this week is the official launch of a key new resource for marine protected areas called cetaceanhabitat.org, sponsored by WDCS. This website, dedicated to the conservation of the critical habitats of whales, dolphins and porpoises in national waters and on the high seas of the world's oceans, is aimed at whale and dolphin researchers, marine protected area practitioners, local conservationists and the interested public in more than 100 countries.


Visitors to the site will find news on recent sanctuaries and marine protected areas (MPAs), including the new Mediterranean and Black seas proposals above; links to and descriptions of regional and world treaties on cetaceans and protected areas; definitions of key MPA terms such as critical habitat and ecosystem-based management; detailed references and downloads; and excerpts from Erich Hoyt's book Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises, 


"We're hoping this will be a grassroots information tool that helps promote the creation of the best possible MPAs worldwide, in line with regional and international targets," says Hoyt, who helped develop the site. "But our key message is that for MPAs to be successful for cetaceans and ecosystems, cetacean threats have to be addressed in comprehensive ecosystem-based management plans with generous, highly protected zones containing critical habitat areas." 


For images, more information and interviews contact:

Fran Mallion, WDCS Press Assistant, on 01249 449 534 or 07834 498277, or email fran.mallion at wdcs.org 



- Ends - 





Editors' Notes


Erich Hoyt, WDCS Senior Research Fellow, helped organize a scientific workshop on specially protected areas last November in Monaco that examined and put forward the proposals through the scientific committee of ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic Area).


* The area highlighted for protection in the Alborán Sea and Straits of Gibraltar is being proposed in a number of Special Areas of Conservation and Ocean Reserves, as well as an international SPAMI (Special Area of Mediterranean Interest) under the Barcelona Convention whose signatories include most Mediterranean countries.


* Except for the Alborán Sea proposal, the new MPA proposals do not include the vast southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean due to lack of knowledge; this will be the next frontier for ACCOBAMS work on cetaceans and protected areas.


* For a special map of the newly designated areas prepared by cartographer Lesley Frampton, go to www.cetaceanhabitat.org <http://www.cetaceanhabitat.org/>   (or see attached). The map may be published for free, with credit and copyright notice: Map by Lesley Frampton, © WDCS 2007.


* The main feature of the cetaceanhabitat.org website is an interactive directory with data and maps detailing the nearly 600 MPAs and sanctuaries for cetaceans, both proposed and existing, located in every corner of the world. The listings include species, rationale, size, location, references and notes about cetacean research and habitat protection, as well as contacts for further information. Using online data entry forms, visitors to the site will have the chance to correct, update or expand any of the listings, or to recommend new listings of proposed or existing sites which feature or include cetacean habitat. The new data will be reviewed by an expert body within WDCS and then posted to the site.


* To mark the launch of the website, a 40% discount on the WDCS book Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises published by Earthscan (London, 2005, 516 pages) will be offered for researchers, educators and students, or for use by a local or national conservation/NGO, while supplies last.  Regular price is USD $40 or UK £24.95 (40% discount = $24 or £14.97 + postage). Contact erich.hoyt at mac.com.




Fran Mallion

Press Assistant (maternity cover)



Brookfield House

38 St Paul Street



SN15 1LJ



T: +44 1249 449 534

F: +44 1249 449 501

E-mail: fran.mallion at wdcs.org 

http://www.wdcs.org <http://www.wdcs.org/> 


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