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EBSAs make progress at COP12

The Twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity took place in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, 6-17 October 2014. Marine and Coastal Biodiversity issues were addressed by a Working Group leading to two Decisions, both of interest and relevance to GOBI. At the same time the COP/MOP of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) met for the first time considering in particular resource mobilisation and the Global Multilateral Benefit-sharing Mechanism. Relevant side events launched two EBSA booklets based on the results of the first two EBSA Workshops (Western South Pacific and Wider Caribbean & Western Mid-Atlantic), and provided details of marine spatial planning and marine debris initiatives. A high-level event launched an Action Plan supported by significant funding pledges for the Sustainable Ocean Initiative. 

Decision XII/22:Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs)

 The COP welcomed the scientific and technical evaluation of information contained in reports from the seven Regional EBSA Workshops: Southern Indian Ocean (Mauritius 2012), Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific (Ecuador 2012), North Pacific (Russian Federation 2013), South-Eastern Atlantic (Namibia 2013), Arctic (Finland 2014), North-West Atlantic (Canada 2014), and Mediterranean (Spain 2014). 

Annexed to the Decision a summary report on the description of areas meeting the scientific criteria, emphasising the scientific and technical nature of the process, provides the location and brief description of each EBSA, together with each workshop’s rating of the seven EBSA criteria. The COP could not support two EBSA descriptions from the Mediterranean Workshop: the Algerian-Tunisian Margin and the Alboran Sea and Connected Areas. Furthermore, it could not support the Great Meteor Seamount EBSA description from the South-Eastern Atlantic Workshop. An ongoing Peruvian national process was also noted. Together with those EBSA Descriptions welcomed by COP11, this now represents a total of 204 polygons, the scientific information for which will be made available in the EBSA repository and information sharing mechanism. 

The Decision notes the ongoing process applying the EBSA criteria in the North-East Atlantic and makes reference to facilitation of further regional and sub-regional workshops as well as the possibility of national exercises. In terms of sharing outcomes of the EBSA process, the COP paid particular attention to safeguarding the sovereignty, sovereign rights or jurisdiction of coastal States and the rights of other States as well as specifying collaboration with other bodies. 

Of particular interest to GOBI Partners are paragraphs in the Decision recognising the need to address scientific gaps; provision of an opportunity to consider a scientific and technical analysis of the status of individual EBSAs; and recognition of the importance of traditional knowledge as a source of information for describing EBSAs together with traditional, scientific, technical and technological knowledge of indigenous and local communities. 


Decision XII/23: Impacts on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity of Anthropogenic Underwater Noise and Ocean Acidification, Priority Actions to achieve Aichi Biodiversity target 10 for Coral Reefs and closely associated ecosystem, and Marine Spatial Planning and training initiatives 

This Decision recognises progress achieved through expert workshops and compilation of systematic review documents on a series of related impacts on the marine and coastal environment. More specifically it highlights: 

  • Possible measures to be taken to avoid, minimise and mitigate the potential significant adverse impacts of anthropogenic underwater noise; 
  • The need for exchange of information and related work on the impacts of ocean acidification on biodiversity and ecosystem functions; 
  • Increasing risks to coral reefs, adopting priority actions as well as noting vulnerability of deep-water corals and the need for a specific work plan on biodiversity and acidification in cold-water areas; and 
  • Marine spatial planning (MSP) as a useful tool for applying the ecosystem approach to marine and coastal management, for which information compiled for EBSA descriptions can be applied, and MSP as a specific topic for capacity building exercises (including the Sustainable Ocean Initiative).
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