Joint ACCOBAMS/ASCOBANS/ECS/SPA-RAC Workshop on marine debris and cetacean stranding

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

Overall, in comparison to the level of understanding that exists for some other marine species such as turtles and albatrosses, the current level of understanding of the threat posed by marine debris to cetaceans is poor (Simmonds, 2012).

In 2016, Parties to ACCOBAMS identified marine debris as a potentially key conservation issue to be address in priority by assessing impacts of ghost nets and of plastic materials on cetacean, in their 2017-2019 Work Programme. One way to improve the assessment would be to propose a standardized protocol to collect relevant data, including those to be collected during cetacean strandings.

In this context, a collaborative approach of ACCOBAMS with other relevant organisations is essential to address the issue of impacts of marine litter. Strengthening collaboration between global and regional intergovernmental organizations and NGOs interested in the issue of marine debris will be an objective of this workshop, in order to ensure better synergy and to optimize effort.

In order to further develop effective cooperation with the ongoing regional initiatives on marine debris, including ghost nets, and to assess the impact of plastic materials on cetaceans, the ACCOBAMS Permanent Secretariat plans to organize, during the ECS 2018, in collaboration with IWC, ASCOBANS and ECS, a workshop aiming at:

  • proposing standard and shared protocols on data collection, including data to be collected during cetacean strandings. This will participate to the development of a common operational stranding protocol, in collaboration with IWC, ECS and ASCOBANS;
  • collecting information on ongoing initiatives, in particular on the IWC bycatch initiative;
  • proposing relevant concrete mitigation measures.


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