Since migrating cetaceans regularly cross national boundaries, their effective protection can only be achieved by international cooperation. Thus, ASCOBANS’ aim is to promote close cooperation amongst its Parties with a view to achieving and maintaining a favourable conservation status for small cetaceans.
The ASCOBANS Conservation and Management Plan, which forms part of the Agreement, obliges Parties to focus on the following issues:
ASCOBANS has introduced three regional conservation tools for the most widely distributed species in the Agreement Area, the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena):
Harbour porpoise © P. Toft
To achieve its aim, ASCOBANS also cooperates with Range States that have not (yet) acceded to the Agreement, relevant intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.
At the Meetings of Parties, which take place every three years, the contracting Parties to the Agreement pass Resolutions that determine how certain issues will be addressed in the coming years. Currently, the following Resolutions are fully or partially in force:
|7.1||2012||Conservation of Harbour Porpoises and Adoption of a Conservation Plan for the Western Baltic, the Belt Sea and the Kattegat||Extant|
|7.2||2012||Activities of the ASCOBANS Advisory Committee and Work Plan||Extant|
|7.3||2012||Research and Conservation Actions in the Extension of the Agreement Area||Extant|
|7.4||2012||Impacts of Chemical Pollution on Small Cetaceans||Extant|
|7.5||2012||Management of Expenditures between 2009 and 2011||Concluded|
|7.6||2012||Financial, Budgetary and Administrative Matters for the Forthcoming Financial Period||Extant|
|7.7||2012||Application of Article 6.1 of the Agreement||Extant|
|6.1||2009||Adoption and Implementation of the Jastarnia and North Sea Plans||Extant|
|6.2||2009||Adverse Effects of Underwater Noise on Marine Mammals during Offshore Construction Activities for Renewable Energy Production||Extant|
|6.4||2009||Management of Expenditures between 2005 and 2008||Concluded|
|5.2d||2006||Joining the forces of ASCOBANS and CMS for improved management and Operation of the ASCOBANS Secretariat||Extant|
|5.3||2006||Extension of the ASCOBANS Agreement Area||Extant|
|5.4||2006||Adverse Effects of Sound, Vessels and Other Forms of Disturbance on Small Cetaceans||Extant|
|5.5||2006||Incidental Take of Small Cetaceans||Extant|
|5.7||2006||Research on Habitat Quality, Health and Status of Small Cetaceans in the Agreement Area||Extant|
|5.8||2006||Educational and Promotional Activities||Extant|
|4.1||2003||Headquarters Agreement for and Juridical Personality of the Agreement Secretariat||Extant|
|4.4||2003||Extension of the ASCOBANS Agreement Area||Extant|
|4.7||2003||Cetacean Populations in the ASCOBANS Area||Extant|
|3.1||2000||Integration of the ASCOBANS Secretariat into the Agreements Unit of UNEP/CMS||Extant|
|3.3||2000||Incidental Take of Small Cetaceans||Extant|
|3.5||2000||Monitoring, Status and Population Studies||Extant (partially superseded by Res.4.7)|
|2.4||1997||Management and Further Research Needs to Address Effects of Pollutants on Cetaceans Health||Extant (partially superseded by Res. 5.7)|
|1.5||1994||Establish the Advisory Committee||Extant|
Explanation of terminology: Superseded: replaced by later provisions on the same topics, thus made obsolete. Concluded: standing decision not requiring any follow-up. Extant: active and in force.
For an overview of all Resolutions passed so far by the Meetings of the Parties to ASCOBANS and their status, please click here.
At the 7th Meeting of the Parties, a new work programme for the Agreement, guiding its implementation until 2016, was agreed. Special priority was given to addressing the threats posed by the ongoing bycatch problem and underwater noise.
Reliable data on the distribution and abundance of cetacean populations, and the threats facing them is crucial for effective conservation measures. ASCOBANS Parties and partners use the Agreement as a platform for international exchange and collaboration. Such documents are typically made available at the annual meetings of the Advisory Committee. The Committee also makes recommendations for research that is a priority for conservation in the Agreement Area.
Whenever funds allow, the Agreement also provides financial support to conservation and research projects that have been approved by the Advisory Committee. For more information on these projects and the application procedure, please click here.
Upon request by the ASCOBANS Advisory Committee, scientific workshops are organized under the Agreement. This is usually done in collaboration with CMS, other IGOs such as ACCOBAMS or HELCOM or NGO partners. Reports of Workshops held in recent years can be found here.
Working groups, established under the Advisory Committee, give advice to the Parties and the ASCOBANS Secretariat to support the Agreement’s implementation and direct the conservation strategy for the future. Details of the working groups currently in existence can be found in the report of the most recent Advisory Committee Meeting. The Jastarnia Group, a working group established to review and take forward the implementation of the Recovery Plan for Baltic Harbour Porpoises (Jastarnia Plan), meets annually. Reports of the meetings can be accessed here.
In addition to the policy and scientific work done under the Agreement, to raise public awareness of the small cetacean species occurring in European waters and the threats they face, ASCOBANS prepares and distributes information material. The Agreement also operates mobile exhibitions and information booths in order to promote cetacean conservation. Information and exhibition material can be made available upon request.
The critical situation and the sharp decline of the Baltic harbour porpoise is the reason ASCOBANS has declared the 3rd Sunday on May of each year as the “International Day of the Baltic Harbour Porpoise”. This genetically distinct sub-population can be protected only if people know and care about it – which is why awareness-raising is among the most important activities to ensure the survival of the population. This special day has been celebrated annually with many different activities by schools, museums, NGOs, institutions and individuals in countries bordering the Baltic Sea since 2003.