UNEP 12° Gl. Meeting

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Estratto dal report del

12th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans
dell'UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) 
Bergen, Norway, 20th – 22nd September 2010

Preface (pag 3)

From meter long tubeworms dwelling near black smokers to turtle hatchlings clinging to Sargassum weed, from millions of tons of tuna in open waters to billions of tons of manganese nodules on the deep sea floor: the high seas still host to mankind every surprise and every treasure conceivable – and beyond.

But with shipping and fishing leaving ever-growing footprints beyond the limits of national jurisdiction over many decades and deep-sea mining re-appearing on the horizon, high seas biodiversity and ecosystems are under serious threat. In addition, with rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, the impacts from ocean acidification and ocean warming are set to further aggravate these footprints, reducing the resilience of vulnerable ecosystems and species. Recognition of the need for protection of ocean biodiversity and processes is growing, and networks of marine protected areas are considered a central tool to aid in providing this protection.

While the protection targets set by the international community have been moderate, progress towards achieving them has been painfully slow. Today, less than one percent of the oceans has been designated as protected, while science is considering up to 40 % necessary to ensure long-time conservation and recovery. Ecologically representative net-works of marine protected areas, well managed and coherent, are slowly emerging and regional bodies are playing a pivotal role in their creation.

WWF is dedicated to supporting those active for the conservation of marine ecosystems and works towards achieving global networks of marine protected areas which help protect ocean ecosystems. With this background document we wish to highlight progress in regional high seas marine protected area establishment and make experiences available to, and encourage, those committed to the conservation of marine biodiversity within and beyond countries’ waters.

A brief overview of the global ocean governance framework
( pag. 5)

The overarching framework for ocean governance is set by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS, in force since 1994), which provides rights and duties to coastal states in a set of differentiated legal zones. The sovereign rights afforded include the exploration and exploitation of living and non-living resources in waters and seafloor under national jurisdiction. On the contrary, the general duty established by UNCLOS for all states to “preserve and protect the environment” (Art. 192), in particular those which are “rare or fragile ecosystems as well as the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and other form of marine life” (Art. 194) is not limited to any legal zone and includes waters and seafloor in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) are the open ocean waters beyond the coastal states´ Exclusive Economic zones (200 nm), and the seafloor seawards of the (extended) continental shelf boundaries (“the Area”), as of the decisions taken by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Currently, a large number of states have filed submissions to the Commission which have not yet been finally decided upon (see figure 1). Therefore, some uncertainty exists as to whether and to what extent national sovereignty exists with respect to the seafloor included in the submissions, and how potential marine protected areas with dual legislation, the seafloor under national, the water column under international legislation could operate (see chapter V). First experiences have been made already in the North East Atlantic and Mediterranean (chapter II and IV).

While the “solid, liquid or gaseous mineral resources in or beneath the seabed” are “the common heritage of mankind”, and therefore have to be administered to the benefit of all nations (Art. 136, 140), the living resources do not have such an ownership; their exploitation is one of the high seas freedoms (Art. 87). The freedom of fishing in the high seas has only been limited by multilateral agreements, such as the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and regional fisheries conventions, to cooperate on taking the necessary measures for the conservation of the resource. The FAO Compliance Agreement (1993) sets out responsibilities for flag states to ensure that any fishing vessel flying its flag and operating in the high seas complies with international conservation and management measures. To further urge contracting parties to exercise fishing in a more responsible and sustainable way, the voluntary FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries was agreed in 1991, and supplemented in 2001 by the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) which urges contracting parties to cooperate through regional fisheries management organisations. The FAO International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas (2009) particularly address the vulnerability of open ocean and deep sea ecosystems to fishing activities and provide a set of rules, including the closure of areas to fishing, for minimising environmental damage.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD 1992) provides the global framework for biodiversity conservation, sustainability of natural resource use and benefit sharing from genetic resources. Among other measures, CBD contracting parties commit to implement the World Summit of Sustainable Development’s 2012 target for the completion of an effectively managed, ecologically representative network of marine and coastal protected areas. Although CBD provisions do not apply directly to areas beyond national jurisdiction, the Conference of Parties in 2008 has adopted a set of criteria designed to apply to open ocean and deep seabed areas, including marine areas beyond national jurisdiction6, which will allow for the identification of “ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs)”. In order to help meet the network criteria of representativity, connectivity, replication and size of the network, the EBSA criteria have been complemented by further guidance as well as a global bioregionalisation scheme. There is currently no agreed mechanism to decide upon the establishment of protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction, however the UN BBNJ working group has the mandate to explore options for cooperation for the establishment of marine protected areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

Several international conventions are applicable to the conservation of marine wildlife. The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (1946) applied to all waters where whaling is carried out and has to ensure the effective conservation of whale stocks by various instruments. Endangered species can receive additional protection by global trade restrictions according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES, in force since 1987). The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS or Bonn Convention, in force since 1983) particularly seeks to encourage contracting parties to cooperate on protection measures for wide ranging species, including the establishment of protected areas in critical habitats.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has been established in 1994, under the UNCLOS and the 1994 Implementing Agreement on the Area. Through the authority, contracting parties to UNCLOS organize and control the exploration and exploitation of “solid, liquid or gaseous mineral resources in or beneath the seabed” in ABNJ. Among specific regulations for the exploration and exploitation of resources, the ISA can designate areas no mining is allowed.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for developing rules and regulations concerning maritime safety, the efficiency of navigation and the prevention and control of marine pollution from ships (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, MARPOL 1978) and all other sources (London Convention, 1972, Protocol 1996). The IMO provides the mechanisms enabling the cooperation among governments which adopt these minimum standards for their fleets in all waters. In addition to the globally applicable fleet regulations, IMO contracting parties can designate areas where particular regulations apply to protect the marine environment from impacts arising from navigation and marine pollution, Particular Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs), such as the Western Europe Seas, and MARPOL (1978) “Special Areas”, such as the Mediterranean.

III. The Mediterranean Sea
III.1 - The Regional Governance Framework Sea (pag. 16)

Building on the first Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) adopted by 16 Mediterranean States and the European Community in 1975, these parties adopted the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) in 1976, creating the first regional seas agreement under the auspices of UNEP. Both frameworks were updated in 1995, the Barcelona Convention now being supported by 22 Contracting Parties (all Mediterranean coastal states) and renamed to “Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean”. The Convention operates through a series of environmental protocols and applies to all of the Mediterranean, regardless of the jurisdiction. Currently, most Mediterranean coastal states either have not declared a 200 nautical miles (nm) Economic Exclusive Zone, or they do not enforce them. Hence, the high seas extends seaward of the territorial waters (12 nm, except Greece and Turkey with 6 nm). However, several countries have established different types of fishing or environmental protection zones beyond their territorial  waters (figure 5). None of these claims has been agreed by all riparian countries.


Fig. 5: One potential representation of the maritime jurisdictions in the Mediterranean Sea
by Suárez de Vivero, Juan L: “Atlas de la Europa marítima. Jurisdicciones, usos y gestión”.
Barcelona, Ediciones del Serbal, 2007, p. 39.

The conservation of biodiversity, among others by establishing protected areas, has been agreed in the 1995 Protocol of the Barcelona Convention Concerning Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA/BD Protocol, in force since 1995), which is applicable to all marine waters of the Mediterranean. Given the potential for legal disputes among neighbour countries, two disclaimer clauses (Art. 2, § 2 and 3) state that neither should the international cooperation initiated prejudice any unsettled political or legal question, nor should these issues prevent or delay the adoption of measures necessary for the preservation of the ecological balance of the Mediterranean. In addition, the Strategic Action Plan for Biological Diversity (SAP-BIO), adopted in 2003 by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, states in particular that “setting up of protected areas offshore (including the high seas) to protect pelagic ecosystem and s sensitive species and important and partially unknown benthic areas such as the “white coral community”, seamounts and submarine canyons should be a priority“. Measures enabling the establishment of a comprehensive and coherent Mediterranean network of coastal and marine protected areas by 2012 have only been adopted in the 2008 Almeria Declaration, reinforced by the 2009 Marrakech Declaration.

Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Cyprus and Greece are also members of the European Union and therefore legally obliged to implement the Natura 2000 network of protected areas in their waters, in principle also outside territorial waters (EC 2007). European Community law relative to the conservation of natural resources applies in all maritime areas where Member States exercise their sovereign rights to exploit the natural resources or other sovereign rights (e.g. establishing fishing protection zones, environmental protection zones; EC 20072). Where no EEZ has been declared, and no rights are exercised, the soiland subsoil which are covered by Community law, are lying under an international water column. Here only those provisions of the European Habitats Directive3 apply which concern benthic habitats and sedentary species. Member States have agreed to delegate their national responsibilities in fisheries management to the Community establishing the Common Fisheries Policy4 as an exclusive Community competence. Any action aiming at the regulation of fisheries activities beyond territorial waters should be taken in line with the policy declaration of the “Declaration of the European Community ministerial conference for the sustainable development of fisheries in the Mediterranean” (2003). The European Union adopted several measures for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea.

Accordingly, the coordination and regulation of fisheries for regionally shared fish stocks other than tuna and tuna-like species in the Mediterranean is in the responsibility of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM, in force as revised 2004), with coastal states and the European Union being Contracting Parties. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCATT) is responsible for the scientific assessment and management of tunas and tuna-like fishes. In 2006, the GFCM adopted the recommendation to prohibit trawling in three ecologically important deep-sea areas which have been identified as sites of particular ecological interest. However these areas cannot be considered as strictly speaking MPAs so far. Among the three deep sea sites the chemosynthesis-based ecosystem offshore from the Nile Delta, and the Eratosthenes seamount south of Cyprus, are located outside territorial waters.

The Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black and Mediterranean Seas (ACCOBAMS, in force since 2001), signed in 2008 by 21 states seeks to facilitate the cooperation of coastal states on measures to improve the conservation status of cetaceans. Among other measures, 18 areas have been recommended by ACCOBAMS to be designated and managed for the conservation of marine mammals. Two protected areas have already been established: the Pelagos Mediterranean Mammals Sanctuary (2002), and the Losinij Dolphin Reserve (2006).

III.2 - The approach towards establishing a network of marine protected areas (pag. 19)

The SPA/BD Protocol (1995) provides for the establishment of a List of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Interest (SPAMI List), according to criteria set out in Annex I of the protocol. In addition, a list of endangered or threatened species and a list of species whose exploitation is regulated were adopted as Annex II and III, respectively, in 1996. Among the criteria and procedures set out for establishing the protected areas, those areas located wholly or partly in the high seas (beyond what the coastal states consider to be under their national jurisdiction), have to be proposed by two or more neighbouring parties concerned, and can only be adopted by consensus of all contracting parties. Upon inclusion in the SPAMI list, all contracting parties commit to implement the agreed measures for the site nationally and jointly in the framework of international or regional conventions.

The operational criteria for identifying SPAMIS in areas of open seas, including the deep sea, set out an explicit regional value (uniqueness, representativeness, diversity, naturalness, criticalness for threatened or endangered species) as a basic condition for designation of a SPAMI. Further criteria used for prioritisation address the scientific, educational or aesthetic interest, as well as sustainability- strengthening effects and feasibility (Annex II and III). The criteria set by the European Birds and Habitats Directives (Annexes) for the establishment of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas can be accommodated with the SPAMI criteria above, in particular in relation of the importance for threatened and endangered species and habitats. Among the species and habitats to be conserved by, among others, Marine Protected Areas according to the annexes of the Habitats Directive are the deepwater coral reefs of the Mediterranean, hydrothermal vents, and in relation to the pelagic fauna loggerhead turtles, several species of cetaceans and the monk seal. The operational criteria for SPAMIS as presented above are also comparable to the global selection criteria agreed under the Convention on Biological Biodiversity (CBD 2008, Annex I7), with the exception of the criterion “natural representativeness”. Whereas the SPAMI network in the Mediterranean aims at representing the full range of ecosystems and diversity of the Mediterranean as a first order selection criterion, the CBD criteria use representativity only as an additional criterion for supplementing a set of ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs) towards a network of MPAs.

Following the Almeria declaration 2008, the UNEP-MAP “Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas” (RAC/SPA) implemented a project to promote the creation of a representative ecological network of protected areas in the Mediterranean through the SPAMI system, including areas that lie in the open seas, including the deep sea, with aview to enhancing the conservation of Mediterranean marine habitats and their resources in the pelagic, bathyal and abyssal fields8. As of 2010, the first phase of the project has elaborated the bioregionalisation framework for the Mediterranean Sea, identifying 8 bio geographic regions. Applying the criteria set out in the SPAMI Protocol, 10 large scale ecologically or biologically significant areas were highlighted, with 12 priority conservation areas being selected based on scientific criteria, agreed by the Contracting Parties, and covering in total about 500000 km2 or roughly 20 % of the Mediterranean Sea (see figure 6).

Fig. 6: Priority conservation areas in the open seas, including the deep sea, as agreed by the RAC/SPA Contracting Parties,
and the Pelagos Sanctuary. 1: Alborán Seamounts - 2: Southern Balearic - 3: Gulf of Lions shelf and slope - 4: Central
Tyrrhenian -  5: Northern Strait of Sicily (including Adventure and nearby banks) - 6: Southern Strait of Sicily - 7: Northern and Central Adriatic - 8: Santa Maria di Leuca - 9: Northeastern Ionian - 10: Thracian Sea - 11: Northeastern Levantine Sea and Rhodes Gyre - 12: Nile Delta Region - (Green area: Pelagos Sanctuary declared as SPAMI in 2001) - (source: UNEP 2010)

The second phase of the RAC/SPA project aims at facilitating the designation of the priority areas or parts thereof as SPAMIs. This will involve the creation of a coordination and consultation process between neighbouring countries. In 2010, an Extraordinary Meeting of Focal Points for Specially Protected Areas examined the results of the first phase of the project and provided guidance with regard to the implementation of the second phase.Only a few of the contracting parties have signalled their willingness to pursue the implementation of SPAMIs in the waters adjacent to their national jurisdiction. Despite of the hesitance to implement the results of the first phase of the project, the RAC/SPA initiative is remarkable and may overcome governance issues which characterise the Mediterranean. However, stronger political willingness and clear national commitments are crucial in moving forward the protection of such areas.

III.3 - Progress towards establishing a network of Marine Protected Areas in the high seas (pag. 20)

To date, the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals is the only Marine Protected Area including waters beyond national jurisdiction in the Mediterranean Sea. France, Monaco and Italy created the sanctuary covering the Ligurian Sea between Toulon, Sardinia and Fosso Chiarone by multilateral agreement in 1999 (see figure 6). In 2001, the three states jointly proposed the sanctuary for inclusion in the SPAMI List which makes that all contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention have to abide the regulations adopted for the Sanctuary. Management responsibility rests with the parties of the original Agreement, France, Italy and Monaco. As first example of Mediterranean MPA BNJ, the Pelagos Sanctuary paved the way for the regional RAC/SPA initiative of applying the SPA/BD Protocol as a tool to create offshore and transboundary MPAs. Moreover it was one of the few Mediterranean examples of marine spatial planning based on an ecosystem approach, where different stakeholders were engaged to address conflicts between utilisation and conservation objectives.

Setting out from the difficulties with establishing measures in the Pelagos Sanctuary, but considering the future needs of the network of MPAs as envisaged by the Almeria Declaration (2008), Notarbartolo di Sciara raises the question “whether a management mechanism appropriate for MPAs in the Mediterranean ABNJ can be envisaged within the existing legislative framework, or whether there is a need for more advanced juridical creativity which will account for the likely multi-national nature of such protected areas”. This question was addressed by Scovazzi (2003, see footnote 1) in the context that most coastal states in the Mediterranean have not (yet) claimed an Exclusive Economic Zone which would entitle them to take measures for the protection of the environment (UNCLOS Art. 65). Of course, Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention have to enforce their flag state responsibilities in implementing regulations concerning maritime traffic; however Scovazzi (2003) discusses whether they could enforce measures on ships flying a foreign flag. Interpreting the Pelagos Sanctuary Agreement as the signatories exercising only one of the rights and duties involved in claiming an EEZ as provided by UNCLOS, he argues that they indeed could enforce measures also on foreign ships.

The regulation of fishing activities rests with the regional fisheries management organisations, including the European Union, and the regulation of maritime traffic and related issues is in the responsibility of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which could also grant a “Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas” (PSSA) status to areas particularly at risk from maritime activities, the only measure which would have a global effect.

III.4 Case Study Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals (pag. 21)

Compared to Mediterranean pelagic environment, the Ligurian Sea is a unique high productivity area due to a permanent frontal system fuelling the pelagic biomass production which attracts migratory species of all kind. The Pelagos Sanctuary (see figure 6) was designated because the entire spectrum of cetacean species regularly occurring in the Mediterranean can be found here at some time, it is functionally important in terms of foraging and breeding habitats, and it supports large resident, genetically distinct cetacean populations. It can be expected that protection measures for cetaceans will also benefit other marine predators in the area such as sharks, many species of large pelagic fishes and potentially the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal, all of which spend different phases of their life cycle in this area.

Already in the 1980s, the original motivation for the designation of the Pelagos Sanctuary arose from an exponential increase in the use of drift nets and invoked mammal casualties, as well as significant pollution from land-based sources, and disturbances from seismic investigations, maritime traffic and tourism. The aim of the 1999 multilateral Agreement creating the Pelagos Sanctuary is to adopt measures to ensure a favourable conservation status of each of the marine mammal species frequenting the area, and to protect them and their habitat from all types of direct and indirect negative impacts. Therefore, the objective of the sanctuary goes far beyond the prohibition of “whaling”, or any other deliberate “taking” as enacted already with the Sanctuary Agreement. It aims to reconcile the necessary protection of the habitats and species with socio-economic development.

A joint management plan was approved in 2004, and an international management office and permanent secretariat have been created and are operational since 2006 and 2007, respectively. Some measures have been agreed quite soon. Voluntarily, the Italian Navy has refrained from conducting naval exercises (involving the use of ordnance or sonar) in the Sanctuary area, and the Italian Ministry of the Environment decided to discontinue the discharge in Sanctuary waters of the toxic mud dredged from the area’s harbours. Some provisions of the Agreement (e.g., the prohibition of offshore high-speed motor races; the adoption of rules and codes of conduct to regulate whale watching) have introduced immediate further improvements in the animals’ environment. General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean (GFCM) has closed the Pelagos sanctuary to fishing with towed dredges and bottom trawlnets in 2006 (REC-GFCM/30/2006/3). However, there are no particular regulations for pelagic fishing in the area.

Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. highlight four main challenges for the management towards conservation of the cetaceans and their environment in the Pelagos Sanctuary: illegal driftnet fishing, noise and other disturbances from military exercises, bureaucratic obstacles which hamper the effective implementation of the agreed measures, and the not yet identified clear ecosystem-level objectives for the area.

Achieving efficient management of human activities in the sanctuary therefore has to take place on several different governance levels: 1. Nationally (i.e. flag state responsibilities, whale watching regulations, monitoring, surveillance, enforcement), 2. Tri-laterally (the coordination and ideally harmonisation of measures among the three states in line with
the management plan) and 3. Regionally through other competent authorities and advisory bodies. With respect to action requested from other organisations and intergovernmental agreements such as ACCOBAMS, CISEM (International Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean Sea), the General Fisheries Commission (GFCM) and the UNEP Regional Activity Center (RAC/SPA), communication is coordinated between France, Italy and Monaco.

A clearer and stronger management plan, with clear conservation objectives, detailed conservation targets and a roadmap of actions by different players would certainly help to overcome the complex governance and management problems of an area like the Pelagos Sanctuary. A stronger integration with the objectives of other conservation and management initiatives, such as ACCOBAMS and the SPA/BD Protocol of the Barcelona Convention, and fisheries and coastal zone management programmes, under an ecosystem approach to management would be required. However, the current management plan and the provisions for a management authority do no fulfil these needs. Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. (2009) relate the ineffectiveness of current management actions to the vagueness of mandate, competencies and resources of the executive secretariat as expressed in the original trilateral Agreement and propose to either alter the Agreement or to complement it with a Protocol providing a strong mandate. In this sense, they hope that the EU Maritime Policy with its focus on maritime spatial planning might act as a stimulus and outlook for the management of the Pelagos Sanctuary, by providing a framework for a regional zoning approach.

VI. Conclusions (pag. 35)

Pilot marine protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) are important tools to advance regional cooperation and the specific legal instruments and institutional regimes in ABNJ.

Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans can have the mandate to identify and designate MPAs in areas beyond national jurisdiction as components of regional networks of marine protected areas. MPAs’ specific conservation objectives can address all current and potential threats and their possible cumulative impacts. Therefore, Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans can have an integrative role between different sectors, facilitating the achievement of the conservation goals.

Through their Secretariats and Commissions, they provide a powerful framework for cooperation and communication among Contracting Parties as well as with other Competent Authorities for facilitating the establishment of regional MPA networks in the high seas.

A strong commitment is required of Contracting Parties to collaborate and cooperate on work to implement MPAs within the regional seas agreements to which they are members and to meet the targets set out in the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD 2002) on “[…] the establishment of marine protected areas consistent with international law and based on scientific information, including representative networks by 2012 […]”.

Such a commitment to collaboration and cooperation can help set aside or overcome potential legal conflicts and unregulated boundary issues to advance implementing regional networks of MPAs, including in waters beyond national jurisdiction.

Uncertainties in high seas governance prevail, even in the most advanced regions. However, pilot MPA site selection and designation is achievable and supports advancing the regional governance processes, among others with respect to · the clarification of mandates. To use the OSPAR example, jurists agreed that the organisation’s mandate includes the designation and establishment of MPAs in ABNJ, including the adoption of conservation objectives. In conjunction, the mandate of other competent authorities was highlighted for implementing management actions to regulate human activities in the area towards achieving these conservation objectives · the sharing of legal responsibilities for the conservation of biodiversity outside the Exclusive Economic Zones (or equivalent) of coastal states. As the water body of the world ocean outside 200 nm is a global common, more than one legal environment may apply for MPAs on the extended continental shelf and in the Area. So far no experience exists as to how the governance of such MPAs could operate. Portugal proposes that the OSPAR Commission should establish as an OSPAR Marine Protected Area the waters above the four MPAs nominated on Portugal’s extended continental shelf. In the Mediterranean, the Pelagos Sanctuary is administered as one entity by the sponsoring states.

· the initiation of a closer dialogue between the environmental convention and the competent global and regional management authorities and bodies. The intensified regional cooperation can provide the impetus for a true regional ecosystem approach to management of human activities and marine spatial planning, with the environmental convention taking an integrative role, in particular with regards to an adaptive management by identifying cumulative impacts and periodically reviewing the success of management measures.
· directing the attention on particular areas and problems, which may prompt management action through other competent bodies prior to site designation such as e.g. in the ban of the use of drift netting in the Pelagos Sanctuary or bottom fisheries closures on the Mid Atlantic Ridge.

The potential extension of the continental shelves of coastal states currently creates a legal uncertainty as to when a coastal state has to take responsibility for the conservation of sedentary species on the extended continental shelf, with the water column being under the high seas legal regime. However, Portugal showed, that based on Art. 77 of UNCLOS, a coastal state can, and is in fact the only body with the power to, take responsibility prior to the final recommendation of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, and establish an MPA on its extended continental shelf in cooperation with the responsible regional convention, here OSPAR. This is based on the view that as soon as a coastal state enjoys the rights afforded by UNCLOS, these are accompanied by the “duties to protect and preserve the marine environment” (Art. 192 UNCLOS), and the precautionary principle.

Approaches towards establishing regional networks of marine protected areas, including beyond national jurisdiction, can be different. In the Southern Ocean, CCAMLR and the Antarctic Treaty aim to establish a biogeographically representative system of MPAs through the use of processes such as bioregionalisation and systematic conservation planning. In the North East Atlantic and Mediterranean, OSPAR and the Barcelona Convention set out from individual national or multilateral nominations, regardless of how these sites had been selected (hotspots/representative/systematic). This is in part due to the different legal situations. All three regions follow stepwise processes to complete representative and ecologically coherent networks of MPAs.

The scientific criteria and guidance for selecting areas to establish a representative network of marine protected areas, including in open ocean waters and deep-sea habitats adopted by the Convention on Biodiversity (COP9 Decision IX/20, 2008) can be helpful to guide the process in regions where no provisions exist yet.

Nominations of MPAs in areas beyond national jurisdiction require particular scientific credibility for selection in order to convince all Contracting Parties of the urgency for the establishment of an MPA. In the case of the OSPAR Charlie Gibbs MPA, most important were

· the nomination of an area hosting species, habitats and ecosystems well communicable, meeting relevant criteria, representative for the wider Atlantic, in need for conservation, and challenging in terms of size and management action
· a scientifically comprehensive, up to date nomination according to the guidelines adopted easing scientific review. Recent scientific investigations including images of biodiversity in the area helped to communicate the message.
· the adherence to the precautionary principle, accepting limitations in data coverage and knowledge. This is essential, as the spatial scale of proposed MPAs in ABNJ, and the temporal scale of deep sea ecosystem processes is unlikely to be ever matched by adequate data coverage. Therefore, the scientific cases will have to be consolidated over time.

Several instruments provide helpful technical tools towards establishing an MPA network, and help ensuring transparent and repeatedly applicable procedures which are of vital importance:

· An agreement that the composition of the network of Marine Protected Areas reflects established international standards (comprehensiveness, adequacy, representativity, significance, connectivity, replication) and scientific advice
· An agreed purpose of the network (such as conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem integrity, threatened or vulnerable ecosystems and species, contribution to fisheries management, scientific references areas, areas to increase the resilience and adaptation capability of biodiversity to the effects of climate change and ocean acidification)
· A staged process and agreed guidelines for the selection of MPAs, such as the CBD EBSA criteria and guidelines, distinguishing between the selection of an area based on its inherent values and the later feasibility consideration for reaching political consensus.
· A regional biogeographic classification or zonation of ecological subregions which shall be represented in the MPA network.
· Clear proforma for the proposal of a candidate area are helpful, also an understanding on how to address data paucity. However paucity of data should not prevent work to identify areas requiring protection from moving forward.
· Depending on the availability and coverage of sufficient regional physiographic and biological data, conservation-planning and decision-support tools may provide valuable help in working towards networks of marine protected areas.

VI. WWF Recommendations (pag. 37)

A staged process and agreed guidelines for the selection of MPAs, such as the CBD EBSA criteria and guidelines, distinguishing between the selection of an area based on its inherent values and the later feasibility consideration for reaching political consensus.

· A regional biogeographic classification or zonation of ecological subregions which shall be represented in the MPA network.
· Clear proforma for the proposal of a candidate area are helpful, also an understanding on how to address data paucity. However paucity of data should not prevent work to identify areas requiring protection from moving forward.
· Depending on the availability and coverage of sufficient regional physiographic and biological data, conservation- planning and decision-support tools may provide valuable help in working towards networks of marine protected areas.

WWF considers the role of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans essential for establishing a truly comprehensive, multilaterally agreed conservation and management regime in regional waters in ABNJ, guided by the ecosystem approach.

WWF calls upon Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans and other multilateral cooperation instruments to engage with their Member States to take responsibility for the conservation of water column and seafloor biodiversity and ecosystems in areas beyond national jurisdiction, or in a dual approach in cooperation with coastal states. Although sectoral efforts have granted selected areas with protection from certain activities, spatial protection of biodiversity in ABNJ is still patchy and incomprehensive.

WWF encourages Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans to extend their area coverage to include adjacent areas beyond national jurisdiction. Again, this is the responsibility of member states.

WWF encourages Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans to strengthen their cooperation with regional and international Competent Authorities, particularly Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, in order to generate a regional framework for the implementation of an ecosystem-based management of human activities.

WWF notes that where no such regional environmental governance mechanisms exist, other existing management bodies such as Regional Fisheries Management Organisations could extend their mandate to cover biodiversity conservation under an ecosystem approach to management.

WWF believes that coastal states are responsible for the conservation of biodiversity on the areas within the boundaries of their extended continental shelf, as soon as they benefit of the associated rights given in UNCLOS.

WWF calls upon coastal states to designate, where appropriate, MPAs on their extended continental shelf and to cooperate with international organisations regulating activities in the high seas water column.

WWF calls upon Contracting Parties of Regional Seas Conventions to set aside eventual conflicts on boundary limitations and legal regimes to achieve progress towards protection of biodiversity.

WWF calls upon states adjacent to high seas areas in need of conservation measures to initiate an internationally and regionally agreed process to achieve protection of the area.

WWF calls upon states to work towards a United Nations regime ensuring the recognition of all areas designated as MPAs in ABNJ by states or mandated regional organizations.

WWF invites Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans to draw information from ongoing processes in high seas conservation, such as protective measures taken by regional fisheries management organizations in line with UN GA Decisions 61/105 and 64/72, and initiatives such as the Global Oceans Biodiversity Initiative and proposals from non-governmental organisations and science.

WWF considers that the progress with respect to establishing marine protected areas, including in areas beyond national jurisdiction is likely to be an iterative process depending on a strong commitment of coastal states.

Building on the experience gained in the three study regions, WWF recommends Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans to engage with their Member States to adopt a transparent procedure for the designation of a MPAs in ABNJ, including:

· clear mandates for the identification and nomination of areas, designation as MPA and regulation of activities,
· improved dialogue with stakeholders and relevant competent authorities formalized by Memoranda of Understanding and supported by joint work plans or roadmaps, particularly between the Secretariats or Commissions of Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, but also with those of international competent authorities such as the IMO and ISA
· scientific review processes and input from stakeholder organisations. This can raise the credibility of a MPA/MPA network proposed. Where not yet in place, a scientific advisory body should be mandated.

WWF reiterates that adherence to the precautionary principle is essential to minimise threats to species, habitats and ecosystems in particular in the deep and high seas.

For further information please contact:
Christian Neumann, WWF Germany, christian.neumann@wwf.de
with contributions from Rob Nicoll (WWF Australia), Marina Gomei (WWF
Mediterranean Programme), Jessica Battle (WWF International) and Sian Prior


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