Majorca, Spain (November 12, 2004) - Delegates from 16 countries adopted a resolution recognizing man-made ocean noise as a dangerous pollutant which can disturb, injure and even kill whales and other marine species.
The second meeting of the parties to ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area) comes two weeks after the European Parliament adopted a resolution to protect marine mammals from high-intensity active naval sonar. Also, last week, Spain reacted to a series of mass whale mortalities in the Canaries by announcing a moratorium on the military use of active sonar in waters around the islands.
The ACCOBAMS resolution urges Parties to:
Avoid any use of damaging man-made noise in habitat of vulnerable species and in areas where marine mammals or endangered species may be concentrated;
Intensify national and international research on the issue;
Develop alternative technologies and require the use of best available control technologies and other mitigation measures in order to reduce adverse impacts; and
Consult with any professions conducting activities known to produce underwater sound that could harm cetaceans, including military authorities, recommending, "extreme caution be exercised in the ACCOBAMS area."
The scientific committee of the agreement has also been charged with developing a common set of guidelines on these activities by 2007.
The purpose of the ACCOBAMS Agreement is to reduce the threat to cetaceans in Mediterranean and Black Sea waters and improve our knowledge of these animals. It is the first Agreement binding the countries in these two subregions, enabling them to work together on a matter of general interest. It requires the States to implement a detailed conservation plan for cetaceans, based first on respect of legislation banning the deliberate capture of cetaceans in fishing zones by their flag vessels or those subject to their jurisdiction, on measures for minimizing incidental capture and, finally, on the creation of protected zones, important for the feeding, breeding and birthing of cetaceans. This approach combines both the protection of threatened species and the institution of reinforced geographic protection.
To access the ACCOBAMS website click here.
Countries who have ratified the ACCOBAMS Agreement include: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Georgia, Greece, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, and the Ukraine. Cyprus and Italy are signatories but have yet to accede (as of July 2004).