Results from the first ever workshop on the identification of important marine mammal areas (IMMAs) have been published. The workshop was focused on the Mediterranean Sea and took place in Chania, Greece, in October 2016. GOBI is supporting a further five IMMA workshops focusing on the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
In the Mediterranean workshop, 41 candidate IMMAs were presented by experts for consideration. From this list, 26 IMMAs have now been approved by an independent review panel, some with detailed revisions, along with 5 areas that will remain cIMMAs subject to further revision. The IMMAs that were not approved have joined the list of Areas of Interest (AoI), which now number 39 in the region. The AoI will be reconsidered for IMMA status during the next iteration of the process for the Mediterranean.
Approved IMMAs and cIMMAs are displayed on a newly-launched online interactive map – an IMMA e-atlas. For now, the site shows the areas and descriptions of the rationale for their selection. Eventually, the plan is to make available downloadable documents with references and other supporting information for each area.
Since the first event in the Mediterranean, a second IMMA workshop has been conducted for the Pacific Islands in Apia, Samoa, in March-April 2017. A preliminary report has been completed and the proposed cIMMAs will be reviewed by an independent panel in August. The final report from this workshop is expected in early 2018, together with the information made available on the e-atlas.