New research for Mediterranean canyons and cetaceans

28 November 2011 | News story

Conservation leading organisations join forces to improve field research on key marine habitats and species in the Mediterranean.

On 19 May 2011 in Marseille (France), the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), the French Agency of Marine Protected Areas and the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS) have signed an agreement to bring together their scientific and technical knowledge, but also to put together the necessary technical and financial arrangements to enrich the knowledge available and better protect the resources in the area through two particular projects: a Survey on Mediterranean Cetaceans and deep seas prospecting exercises.

The new formal agreement signed on 25 November amongst the partner organisation has now opened the recruitment process for a new Fund Raising Officer for Mediterranean Marine Research who will be responsible for attracting the necessary support for the implementation of these two Mediterranean schemes; a survey for cetacean (dolphins, whales and porpoises) population and distribution and considering turtles and seabirds, also top predators of the ecosystem. The second initiative will focus on submarine deep sea habitat prospecting campaigns, in particular submarine canyons and mounts.

The signing organisations will also facilitate contacts with the national authorities and other regional, European and international organisations to assist the process.

ACCOBAMS, through its Scientific Committee, encourage the Parties to the Agreement to develop research on cetacean populations and habitats. ACCOBAMS is developing an initiative named “Survey” to increase the knowledge on the distribution of cetaceans in the Mediterranean, based on an agreed scientific protocol for transects by planes and boats. Surveys all over the Mediterranean are planned for the period 2012-2013.

The Agency for Marine Protected Areas (France) is responsible for supporting public policies for marine protected areas, at the national level as well as at the regional/Mediterranean level, as part of the implementation of international conventions and agreements. The Agency is mandated for the development of the national strategy for a better knowledge and a better management of coastal and offshore MPAs, and in particular based on international coordination in the Mediterranean. In relation with its present experience for the research related to submarine canyons and cetacean conservation, the Agency can offer technical support to countries or institutions in this field.

The mission of the Regional Activity centre for Specially Protected Areas is to assist the Parties to the Barcelona Convention for fulfilling their obligations concerning the Protocol for Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean and implementing the Strategic Action Programme for the conservation of biological diversity in the Mediterranean (SAP/BIO). Within this framework, the RAC/SPA facilitates and supports the development of data collection on marine and coastal biodiversity in the Mediterranean region, and encourages the conservation of habitats, species and sensitive areas.

The IUCN international organisation objectives are to support the coordination of the activities for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources. The IUCN strategy is to improve knowledge for a better conservation of species and habitats, in particular in the Mediterranean. UICN and in particular its Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation are developing initiatives for a better governance of the sea beyond national jurisdiction, including canyons and sea-mounts, and at the same time, within the framework of the Nereus project, for the identification of areas and species ecologically representatives in the Mediterranean.