Sebastián, 22 April 2007 - The 14th Meeting
of the ASCOBANS Advisory Committee met in San Sebastián,
Spain, from 19-21 April. It was the first meeting since
the CMS and ASCOBANS Secretariats were merged for a two
year trial period in January 2007, and provided the opportunity
for the new members of the core “CMS/ASCOBANS Team”,
i.e. the acting Executive Secretary Robert Hepworth, the
Scientific and Technical Officer Marco Barbieri, and the
newly appointed CMS/ASCOBANS Coordinator Heidrun Frisch,
to introduce themselves to the Party representatives.
The ASCOBANS Advisory Committee considered activities
of the Parties and the Secretariat in the last year and
set the course for the coming year. Issues discussed included
information on impacts of fishing effort, pollution, noise
and disturbance, the implementation of mitigation measures
and outreach activities. Recently available information
on population sizes, structure and distribution was considered.
Furthermore, nominations for the second ASCOBANS Award
were considered and the winner decided upon. This year,
the German NGO “Gesellschaft zum Schutz der Meeressäugetiere”
was selected for its outstanding role in raising awareness,
educating as well as engaging the public and facilitating
data gathering on cetaceans and other marine mammals.
At the end of the meeting, a new Chair and Vice-chair
were elected, Stefan Bräger (Germany) and Jan Haelters
(Belgium) respectively. The Secretariat and the ASCOBANS
Party representatives warmly thanked Peter Reijnders and
Mark Tasker for their excellent work. Peter Reijnders
had chaired the Advisory Committee from its first meeting
in 1995 until 2001, when he became Vice-chair under Mark
Tasker, himself previously Vice-chair of the Committee.
2007 will be an exciting year for ASCOBANS: the westward
extension of the Agreement Area to include Irish and Iberian
waters is expected to enter into force in the course of
the year, enlarging not only the geographical coverage
but also opening the way for three additional range states
to formalise their relationship with this intergovernmental
cetacean conservation treaty [click
here for map].
At the same time, the ASCOBANS Secretariat is heavily
involved in the multi-stakeholder initiative “Year
of the Dolphin 2007”. The main aims of the campaign
are to increase general awareness of dolphin conservation,
provide effective educational and information tools for
better outreach to a broad audience, stimulate concrete
activities for the conservation of these species and their
habitats, and contribute to the achievement of the 2010
biodiversity target [www.yod2007.org].
All ASCOBANS Parties and Partner organisations are encouraged
to contribute to the success of the Year of the Dolphin
by undertaking, registering and reporting on research,
conservation activities and public awareness campaigns,
by offering a prize for the best small-scale conservation
project and/or educational activity, by providing financial
support to YoD activities or production of educational
material or by translating information material into their
languages and producing them locally.