WWF urges OSPAR to take action to ensure effective protection of NE Atlantic high seas MPAs

In a Press Release dated 20th June 2014, WWF state: “ (Gland, Switzerland/Cascais, Portugal) – Parties to the OSPAROSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic made up of representatives of the Governments of the 15 signatory nations. Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic should take measures to control human impacts in marine protected areas. Action is being urged in advance of the OSPAR meeting in Cascais, Portugal, beginning 23rd June.

The 15 OSPAR Convention countries and the European Union adopted the world’s first network of high seas marine protected areas around the Mid-Atlantic ridge in 2010. Despite this recognition, there are currently no measures to control harmful activity in the areas except a temporary closure to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems on the seafloor from bottom fishing. Even this measure is thwarted in some locations.

Fishing of deep water and pelagicpelagic The ecological area consisting of the open sea away from the coast and the ocean bottom. The pelagic zone contains organisms such as surface seaweeds, many species of fish and sharks and some mammals, such as whales and dolphins. Pelagic animals may remain solely in the pelagic zone or may move among zones. stocks remains unrestricted, as do maritime transport and potential extraction of minerals from the seabed. The lack of protection puts a wealth of wildlife at risk, including deep-water sharks and rays, peculiar squids and octopuses, sponge aggregations and cold-water coral reefs.

“WWF expects OSPAR and its contracting parties to scale up their efforts to draw up the necessary conservation measures,” says Stephan Lutter, WWF’s International Marine Policy Officer and observer to OSPAR. “Parties need to agree on a roadmap and have it in place by 2016 at the latest.”

WWF recognized the creation of the Mid-Atlantic protected areas in 2010 by awarding the organization’s highest conservation honour, the Gift to the Earth. The protected area network comprises seven sites covering over 480,000 square kilometers of ocean. In addition to the diversity of resident species, planktonplankton Plankton is a generic term for a wide variety of the smallest yet most important organisms form that drift in our oceans. They can exist in larger forms of more than 20cm as the larval forms of jellyfish, squid, starfish, sea urchins, etc. and can be algae, bacterial or even viral down to as small as 0.2µm. They are nutrient and light dependent, and form the essential foodchain baseline for larger dependent aquatic lifeforms. Fish species rely on the density and distribution of zooplankton to coincide with first-feeding larvae for good survival of their larvae, which can otherwise starve. Man-made impacts such as dredging, dams on rivers, waste dumping, etc can severely affect zooplankton density and distribution, which can in turn strongly affect larval survival and thus breeding success and stock strength of fish species and the entire ecosystem. They also form the essential basis of CO2 take up in our seas ecosystem, hence Global Warming.-rich currents serve as feeding grounds for migratory seabirds, cetaceans and turtles.

“Swift collective action to secure this outstanding Gift to the Earth is sadly needed,” says Lutter. “So far, it has been hampered by national vanities, lack of commitment in regulatory bodies and the absence of a global instrument to protect biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.”

In addition to the lack of protective measures, harmful bottom trawling continues in the high seas of the Josephine Seamountseamount A mountain rising from the ocean sea floor that does not reach to the water's surface. They are an important habitat for fish, corals and shellfish. Marine Protected Area, which covers 20,000 square kilometers on Portugal’s outer continental shelf.

“Activities around the Josephine Seamount run contrary to the conservation objectives of OSPAR and contravene UN resolutions on sustainable fishing. This high seas protected area is still a mere ‘paper park’,” says Lutter.

The OSPAR meeting will take place near Sintra, Portugal, where environment ministers adopted the first legally binding provisions to protect biological diversity and ecosystems in 1998. Progress has been made since that time to identify species and habitats under threat and decline. While further conservation measures are required, a network of marine protected areas covering over 5 per cent of the North-East Atlantic has been established.

Source: WWF Press Release, 20th June 2014.

For further information: Contact: Mr. Stephan Lutter, International Marine Policy, mobile: +49 151 18854925 email hidden; JavaScript is required

Learn more about the high seas protected areas of the North-East Atlantic at www.charlie-gibbs.org or visit the OSPAR Convention online at www.ospar.org

Related news:
WWF calling to close Josephine Seamount HSMPA to bottom fishing: http://wwf.panda.org/?212461/north-atlantic-fisheries-commission-fails-to-protect-cold-water-reefs-and-seamounts

WWF Gift to the Earth to OSPAR: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/gifts_to_the_earth/full_listing/?195129/WWF-awards-recognise-moves-to-protect-high-seas

Please do share this

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS