Cetaceans face a wide range of threats all over
the world, but their survival in the Mediterranean
and Black Seas is highly endangered due to the critical
situation of these highly vulnerable ecosystems. Both
seas are embedded in one of the most industrialized
and populated regions of the world. Around 600 million
people live in the Mediterranean and Black Seas riparian
states, with a high percentage of coastal urbanization
and activities. Additionally, some of the major European
rivers discharge into the Black Sea, adding waste
drained from half of the European continent.
The main threats cetaceans face are direct exploitation
and capture, by-catch in fisheries, habitat loss and
degradation, contaminants and disturbance from increased
vessel traffic. Pressure is most intense on coastal
species, such as Bottlenose and Common dolphin (Tursiops
truncatus, Delphinus delphis) and Harbour porpoises
(Phocoena phocoena). However, also pelagic species,
such as Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and
Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), can be severely
CMS has adopted a regional approach for cetacean
conservation in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
ACCOBAMS was concluded in 1996 and entered into force
on 1 June 2001. It is the first Agreement of its kind
to bind the countries of these two sub-regions to
work together on an environmental problem of common
concern. The Secretariat is located in Monaco.
ACCOBAMS covers large and small cetaceans. It applies
to all cetaceans that have a range that lies entirely
or partly within the Agreement area or that accidentally
or occasionally frequent the Agreement area. Species
covered include the Sperm whale (Physeter catodon),
Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) and the Long-finned
pilot whale (Globicephala melas).
ACCOBAMS covers an area that includes the Black Sea,
Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic coasts of North
Morocco and South Portugal. The Agreement area includes
28 Range States. The ecosystems within the ACCOBAMS
region are highly changed and disturbed, primarily
due to pollution, coastal development, extensive vessel
traffic, over-fishing and the impacts of introduced
species. Significantly, membership is also open to
non-coastal States outside the Agreement area ("third
countries") whose vessels are engaged in activities
that may affect cetaceans.
The Agreement aims to reduce threats to all cetaceans
in these waters and to promote closer cooperation
amongst Parties with a view to conserving all cetacean
species present in the area. ACCOBAMS calls also on
its members to enforce legislation to prevent the
deliberate taking of cetaceans in fisheries by vessels
under their flag or within their jurisdiction, and
to minimise incidental catches.
The International Sanctuary for Mediterranean
Mammals – an answer to human pressure on whales
The Sanctuary was born to counter threats to cetaceans
from the increased use of driftnets. It was created
by a tripartite agreement between the Governments
of France, Italy and Monaco. The Agreement was signed
on 25 November 1999 in Rome and entered into force
in February 2002.
The agreement forming the Sanctuary coordinates the
concerted actions taken by the three countries within
the ACCOBAMS Agreement area. To ensure that all Mediterranean
countries respect its objectives, the Sanctuary has
been designated a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean
Importance under a protocol of the Barcelona Convention.
The Sanctuary covers the Tyrrheneo-Corsican-Provencal
part of the Mediterranean Sea and includes both littoral
and pelagic waters.
It aims to reduce various man-made threats to cetaceans
such as bycatch, maritime traffic or urbanization
and industrialisation of coastal areas.
ACCOBAMS Secretariat, Jardins de l'UNESCO, Les Terrasses
Tel: +377-98 98 20 78, Fax: +377-98 98 42 08
, website: http://www.accobams.org