Climate change

The Parties to ACCOBAMS have expressed their interest in assessing the impact of climate change on Cetaceans, through the adoption of the Resolution 4.14 (November 2010, Monaco) stating that necessary actions to reduce anthropogenic contributions to climate change and marine acidification have to be taken.

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) held a workshop on climate change in Costa Rica from 9th to 11th April 2014. Other international bodies are also considering the likely impacts of climate change and we note that this includes the Bern Convention which hold an expert workshop on 19th June 2014 in Strasbourg. ACCOBAMS is seeking to build synergies with the CMS, the Bern Convention and other international organizations on this topic.

Recent scientific reviews have indicated that the connections between predicted changes in marine environment and their consequences for cetaceans are only poorly known. Climate change may affect marine mammals directly through, for example, changes in their prey, or indirectly, through changes in human behaviour. The ACCOBAMS workshop was intended to facilitate further understanding of these matters and identify ways forward to improve understanding and, ultimately, conservation.

The ACCOBAMS workshop on The Impact of Climate Change on Cetaceans of the Mediterranean and Black Seas met in Monaco on 11th June 2014. The workshop was hosted by the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco and part-sponsored by the Humane Society International. Seventeen experts from eight countries from across the ACCOBAMS region and beyond attended, including representatives from a number of international organisations and members of the ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee.

The workshop considered the latest pronouncements from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), noting that ecosystems change has already been identified in the region. The situations in the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins were reviewed and the workshop received a number of detailed reports of ongoing research in the region and pertinent investigations being conducted elsewhere. In addition, the work proposed on climate change under the auspices of the Convention for Migratory Species was considered and the workshop expressed its appreciation and support for these plans.

Discussion led to the identification of the need to build better synergies between various research efforts and international bodies, and the identification of particular knowledge gaps, including a lack of basic knowledge about cetacean populations which is especially pronounced in some areas. The importance of the maintenance of long-term studies and was emphasised along with the value of cetaceans as sentinels of ecosystem health and indicators of climate change.

The workshop recognised climate change as a profound threat to the cetaceans of the region and made two sets of recommendation, the first aimed at policy makers and the second concerning future research.


Key messages to Governments and others

  1. Whilst gaps remain in our knowledge, there is evidence that climate change, especially in combination with other pressures, presents a profound threat to cetaceans in the ACCOBAMS region.
  2. More attention needs to be given generally to the effects of climate change in the marine environment, and the Mediterranean and Black Seas are globally amongst the ecosystems most likely to be rapidly impacted, leading to further biodiversity loss.
  3. Cetaceans have a value as sentinels of the ecosystem effects of climate change and we recommend their consideration in the development of indicators for environmental status to be used in relation to ongoing international initiatives.
  4. Whilst investigations and wider actions continue related to climate change, every effort should be made to address all of the stressors adversely impacting cetaceans in order to help mitigate climate change effects.
  5. Significant opportunities exist at this time to develop positive synergies in the work being conducted on climate change across a number of MEAs and we encourage strengthening of cooperation and actions.
  6. The workshop supports the draft resolution of CMS “Programme of Work on Climate Change and Migratory Species” and welcomes the opportunities for collaboration. It invites CMS and ACCOBAMS to liaise closely to identify joint activities and synergies.
  7. Increasing capacity-building and public awareness activities are of high importance, and we note the importance of marine protected areas in this regard.
  8. In addition, we advocate the research recommendations below and encourage their ongoing funding.


Final report on the ACCOBAMS workshop on The Impact of Climate Change on Cetaceans of the Mediterranean and Black Seas


Link to the CMS Working Group on Climate change