Area containing habitat for the survival and recovery of endangered, threatened, declining species or area with significant assemblages of such species.
Areas critical for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats, containing:
(i) breeding grounds, spawning areas, nursery areas, juvenile habitat or other areas important for life history stages of species; or
(ii) habitats of migratory species (feeding, wintering or resting areas, breeding, moulting, migratory routes)
Case study: Multi-year Ice of the Central Arctic Ocean EBSA
The multi-year ice and associated marine habitats of the central Arctic Ocean in areas beyond national jurisdiction provide a range of globally and regionally important habitats. Projections of changing ice conditions due to climate change indicate that the central Arctic Ocean beyond national jurisdiction is likely to retain ice longer than all other regions of the Arctic, thus providing a refuge for globally unique ice-dependent species, including vulnerable species, as the ice loss continues. A shift towards less multi-year sea ice will affect the species composition and production of the primary producers in the area, with potential cascading effects throughout the ecosystem. In a situation with decreasing ice cover, the effects on the ice fauna will be strongest at the edges of the multi-year sea ice.
Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are highly dependent on the sea ice habitat and are therefore particularly vulnerable to changes in sea ice extent, duration and thickness. The multi-year ice habitat is especially important as breeding habitat for polar bears of the southern and northern Beaufort Sea subpopulations.
The Multi-year Ice of the Central Arctic Ocean area was described by participants at the Reginoal EBSA workshop for the Arctic Ocean, and designated as an EBSA at COP12 (Decision XII/22; October 2014).