PostHeaderIcon EU Accession

EU Accession to the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution
Resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil

PostHeaderIcon Ongoing seismic survey work in the area of the Hellenic Trench

Statement from the ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee concerning
the ongoing seismic survey work in the area of the Hellenic Trench
The ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee has been informed by several NGOs about a programme of seismic survey work scheduled to take place in the region of the Hellenic Trench including in international waters and reported to be starting early November. Unfortunately, details of this have not been received by the Secretariat and we do not know the details of the scale, methods or any planned mitigations. This region constitutes an area of critical habitat for the endangered Mediterranean sperm whale, whose population only numbers a few hundred individuals at best, and which, as a deep diving species, may be strongly affected by the loud noise used in such surveys. Sperm whales are an important international resource. The Hellenic Trench is also an important habitat for Cuvier’s beaked whale, another particularly vulnerable species, and the bottlenose dolphin, striped dolphin, common dolphin and Risso’s dolphin are also found there. This is an area which ACCOBAMS has proposed should be designated as an Area of Special Importance/MPA because of its cetacean populations.  
The Scientific Committee therefore calls on all those involved in the planned surveys to provide information to the ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee and take urgent precautionary action to protect the local cetaceans and offers its expertise to the relevant Greek authorities and the companies involved.

In particular, the Scientific Committee draws the attention of those involved to the ACCOBAMS guidelines for seismic surveys, including the deployment of visual and acoustic marine mammal observers empowered to require the shut-down of airguns if cetaceans are detected within the prescribed zone and urges:
  • that duplicate surveys should be avoided across the same area;
  • alternative approaches to seismic airgun survey should be sought and deployed; and
  • efforts should be made to avoid ensonifying adjacent areas simultaneously.
In addition, there should be a full and transparent Environmental Impact Assessment.

PostHeaderIcon Marine Science Review

The last edition of the Marine Science Review is out (August 23rd, 2012).
This time its topics evolve around "Contaminants and Pollution: Underwater noise".

Click here to access the webpage concerned and to check the articles.

PostHeaderIcon 2012 Call for Proposals of Projects

The Permanent Secretariat is pleased to announce that the 2012 Call for Proposals of Projects under the ACCOBAMS Supplementary Conservation Funds is now launched.
For 2012, the projects proposed under this call for proposals should address capacity building issues.

Submission of proposals should reach ACCOBAMS before 15th October 2012.

You can find all the information at:

Last Updated (Tuesday, 21 August 2012 14:29)


PostHeaderIcon Training for cetacean necropsies

In the frame of the implementation of the “Work Programme 2011-2013” (Resolution 4.5) adopted by the last Meeting of the Contracting Parties (Monaco 2010), the Permanent Secretariat, the Bulgarian Focal Point, Mrs Tihomira Slaveykova and Expert M. Alvaro Garcia de Los Rios planned to set up a training regarding the necropsies of cetaceans for Bulgarian Veterinarians and Scientists usually involved in this task.

Read more...


PostHeaderIcon Memorandum d'Entente entre la CGPM et l'ACCOBAMS

Le Secrétariat de l’ACCOBAMS et le Secrétariat de la CGPM signent un Mémorandum de collaboration à l’occasion de la
La collaboration entre l’ACCOBAMS et la CGPM a été renforcée par la signature d’un Mémorandum de collaboration entre les Secrétariats des deux Accords en vue d’harmoniser davantage  leur intervention.
La 36ème Session de la CGPM a été organisée à  Marrakech, du 14 au 19 mai 2012 avec la participation de 19 délégués représentants les Pays membres et 16 Organisations internationales et régionales.
S’adressant à la 36ème Session de la CGPM au moment de la signature du Mémorandum de collaboration, le Secrétaire Exécutif de l’ACCOBAMS a indiqué qu’à travers ce Mémorandum, ACCOBAMS et la CGPM travailleront encore plus à réduire les interactions entre les cétacés et la pêche et à collecter les données scientifiques et techniques nécessaire pour mieux comprendre ces interactions, évaluer leur étendue et proposer les mesures permettant de les réduire.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:39)


PostHeaderIcon Eighth Meeting of the ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee

The ACCOBAMS Permanent Secretariat has the pleasure to inform you that the 8th Meeting of the ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee will be held at the "Auditorium Rainier III" in Monaco from the 13th to the 15th November 2012.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:40)


PostHeaderIcon New edition of FINS

FINS - N°5, April 2012

The new edition of FINS is available.

The message regarding the Newsletter was sent yesterday, if you did not receive it you can either contact the Secretariat ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )



Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:40)



Project: Establishing Monitoring and Sustainable Development of the Lebanese Sea

In the frame of the project, ACCOBAMS donated material to people working on the CANA-CRNS.
The overall objective of the project is to increase the knowledge of coastal and marine environments towards drawing responsible and sustainable development outlines while preparing guidelines for an integrated coastal policy. It intends to prepare a complete picture related to the sea condition and its resources aiming at identifying sustainable and relevant economic approaches of the activities along the coastline of the Country.
Five major fields of intervention have been defined for responding to the complexity of the mission:
  • Sea Physical Environment (bathymetry of the coastal area)
  • Hydrology, hydrobiology and biodiversity
  • Mammalian and fishery (halieutic marine resources)
  • Coastal pollution
  • Scientific dissemination
In the specific, these five technical tasks/components are managed by the two CNRS National Centres for Geophysics and for Marine Sciences.
The main Project output is expected to be the guidelines for a strategic approach for sustainable costal development that takes into consideration both the project technical/scientific results and the stakeholders’ interest analysis.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:45)


PostHeaderIcon Agreement Amendment

The ACCOBAMS Secretariat has the pleasure to inform that the Depositary has received from the Bulgarian authorities the instrument of approval of the Amendment to the Agreement on the 14th March 2012.
The Depositary informed the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Countries Parties to ACCOBAMS.
Who's next?....

Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:40)


PostHeaderIcon Atypical Mass Strandings in the Ionian Sea

Following the atypical mass stranding of Cuvier's beaked whales, Ziphius cavirostris, which occurred on 30 November 2011, on the western shores of the Greek island of Corfu, the ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee, based on Resolution 3.10 and 4.17 respectively adopted by the Third (Dubrovnik, 22-25 October 2007) and Fourth Meetings of the ACCOBAMS Contracting Parties (Monaco, 9-12 November 2010), addressed to the Secretariat the following Statement of Concern to be distributed to appropriate authorities and mass media in order to inform the general public about such event and engagement of the Contracting Parties.

Scientific Committee of ACCOBAMS

Statement of Concern
about Atypical Mass Strandings
of Beaked Whales in the Ionian Sea

13 February 2012

The Scientific Committee of ACCOBAMS is greatly concerned about two atypical mass stranding events that have occurred in the Ionian Sea (in Greece and in Italy) in November and December 2011, involving a minimum of 11 specimens of Cuvier’s beaked whales, Ziphius cavirostris, a species protected under many international agreements (e.g., ACCOBAMS, CMS, Bern Convention, EU Habitats Directive, SPA-BD Protocol to the Barcelona Convention) as well as under national legal instruments.

At present it is not possible to confirm whether or not all these stranding events were caused by human activities. However, a report from Greek scientist Dr. Alexandros Frantzis provides strong evidence that sound from an as yet unknown source, similar to human-generated sounds known to cause atypical beaked whale mass strandings, was generated near the region of one of the strandings off western Corfu.

Based on recommendations from this Scientific Committee, the above waters have been listed in the ACCOBAMS Meeting of Parties (MOP) Resolution 3.22 as of special importance for the common dolphin and other cetaceans. Direct observations and an extensive habitat modeling exercise undertaken by Dr Ana Cañadas for ACCOBAMS (SC7_Doc15) show that the deep marine waters off NW Greece and Southern Albania contain important, possibly critical habitat for Cuvier's beaked whales. Beaked whales are particularly sensitive to sound and in March
2011 the Scientific Committee agreed that beaked whales should not be exposed to a Sound Pressure Level greater than 140 dB re 1 μPa @ 1m in Mediterranean waters deeper than 600 m.

At the Third and Fourth ACCOBAMS MoPs in 2007 (Resolution 3.10) and 2010 (Resolution
4.17) respectively, Resolutions of direct relevance to preventing human-generated noise from jeopardizing the conservation status of protected cetacean species, were adopted by consensus. The most directly relevant elements of these Resolutions (appended in full and summarised below) stress the dangers of underwater noise to cetaceans, especially sensitive species such as beaked whales and urge Parties (and where relevant appropriate IGOs) to:
•    pay particular attention to the management of human activities in the habitats of sensitive species, taking into account cumulative and synergistic effects of activities;
•    inform the ACCOBAMS Secretariat on current and reasonably foreseeable noiseproducing activities occurring under their jurisdiction within the ACCOBAMS area;
•    ensuring that underwater noise is fully taken into account in a precautionary manner when reviewing environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for activities that may produce noise, including the provision of precautionary and effective mitigation and monitoring measures;
•    emphasise the need for a provision for expert review of EIAs and associated mitigation and monitoring measures, as well as a provision for the action to be taken if unusual events, such as atypical mass strandings.

In addition, Resolution 4.17 provided guidelines to address the impact of anthropogenic noise on cetaceans in the ACCOBAMS area. These provided explicit indication of measures to be adopted to avoid events such as the recent atypical mass stranding of Cuvier's beaked whales.

It seems clear from these recent events that the Resolution commitments and guidelines have not been fully complied with by all parties. Indeed, the production of high level noise in the waters off western Corfu could be considered as effectively a deliberate take of Cuvier's beaked whales.

The Scientific Committee is extremely concerned at this situation, as should be the Parties. We respectfully but strongly request that as a matter of urgency, all Parties ensure that the mechanisms are in place to comply fully with Resolution commitments, recommendations and guidelines. The effectiveness of ACCOBAMS in meeting its conservation objectives is seriously compromised without such mechanisms.
This includes the provision of information to the Secretariat (and by extension the scientific and conservation community). In particular, to assist in the investigation of these events, it is important to know whether the Secretariat and/or the Parties most concerned by the above stranding events can provide information on:
a)    noise-producing human activities in the area; and if yes:
b)    whether an EIA for such activity exists, was approved and was reported to the ACCOBAMS Secretariat; and if so
c)   the scientific review process for the EIA and details of any mitigation measures (and how these met the ACCOBAMS guidelines) and compliance mechanisms.

Given its extreme concern for the effectiveness of the protection status of Cuvier's beaked whales in the Mediterranean Sea, the Scientific Committee of ACCOBAMS reiterates its full commitment and availability to support the Agreement’s conservation efforts, including assisting with the review of cetacean components of EIAs.

ACCOBAMS Resolution 3.10: icone_pdf
ACCOBAMS Resolution 4.17: icone_pdf
ACCOBAMS Resolution 3.22: icone_pdf

Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:41)

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