Marine debris

Cetaceans are known to be affected by marine litter through ingestion and entanglement in ghost nets; the phenomenon is well-known in the ACCOBAMS area, and substantive information exists from the monitoring of strandings in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas.

Regarding the marine litter issue, the ACCOBAMS Conservation Plan (Annex 2 to the Agreement) provides that the Parties shall “introduce or amend regulations with a view to preventing fishing gear from being discarded or left adrift at sea, and to require the immediate release of cetaceans caught incidentally in fishing gear in conditions that assure their survival” (para. 1, b). In addition, the Parties shall “regulate the discharge at sea of, and adopt within the framework of other appropriate legal instruments stricter standards for, pollutants believed to have adverse effects on cetaceans” (para. 1, d).


The ACCOBAMS Secretariat initiated a collaboration with RAMOGE and the French Oceanographic Observatory.

Some exchanges occurred between the ACCOBAMS Secretariat and MEDPOL (UNEP/MAP) on the ways of collaborating for developing a regional program for assessing the impacts of ghost nets on cetaceans, in the framework of the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean.

The Secretariat collaborated with the Prince Albert II Foundation who hold an international workshop in Monaco, on 10-11 March 2015 “Plastics in the Mediterranean. Beyond observations, which solutions”. A Monaco Declaration was issued. (link to BEMED)

The Secretariat provided a support letter to a regional research project on microplastics in cetaceans submitted by the University of Siena to the MAVA Foundation for funding.


Proposed activities for the 2017-2019 triennium

 1- Assess the impact of ghost nets on cetaceans in the ACCOBAMS area in collaboration with MedPOL and GFCM, with emphasis on the development of the removal methods

2- Assess the impact of plastic bags, microplastic and other plastic materials ingestion on cetaceans in cooperation with existing initiatives, such as IWC (bibliographic synthesis and Scientific Committee recommendation: Focus on secondary effects more than ingestion and Suggested mitigation measures)

3- Encourage cooperation with ongoing regional initiatives on marine litter.


ACCOBAMS would like to confirm its availability to be involved in the regional coordination Group on Marine Litter in the Mediterranean, in view of strengthening collaboration on marine litter issues.

Strengthening collaboration between global and regional intergovernmental organizations interested in the issue of ghost fishing or marine debris in general will be pursued as a cross-cutting objective of the project to ensure better synergy and to optimize efforts.