The Hague/Bonn – The ASCOBANS Advisory Committee, a body set up to provide advice and information to Party States on the conservation and management of small cetaceans, convened its 22nd meeting (AC22) in The Hague, Netherlands, from 29 September to 1 October 2015.
Representatives of governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations as well as research institutions spent the meeting days reviewing new information on threats to small cetaceans and considered necessary steps in order to mitigate impacts of human activities on the animals and their habitats.
As the last Advisory Committee Meeting before the 8th Meeting of the Parties (MOP8, Helsinki, Finland, 30 August - 1 September 2016), focus was on the decisions to be prepared for consideration and adoption at this meeting. Besides the regular resolutions such as the ones adopting the work plan and budget, several topics were agreed upon that drafting groups will now elaborate on: PCBs, underwater unexploded ordnance, managing cumulative impacts on small cetaceans, best practice regarding necropsy and rescue of small cetaceans, and marine renewables. Work would also be carried out in order to update the Recovery Plan for Baltic Harbour Porpoises (Jastarnia Plan), and to advance the development of a Conservation Plan for Common Dolphins, both of which might lead to draft resolutions to be tabled at MOP8.
The Advisory Committee also considered the detail, format and frequency of National Reports to be prepared by Parties, which should allow a meaningful review of the progress in the implementation of the Agreement without overburdening Parties with excessive reporting requirements. After considering the wide range of topics on which information should be gathered, the AC recommended that one comprehensive national report should be submitted each MOP-cycle, supplemented by briefer, topic-specific annual reports as determined in advance by the Advisory Committee. This issue will also be brought to the attention of MOP8 for a final decision.
Two workshops are planned for 2016, one on Conserving Europe’s cetaceans through synergy-building between the relevant legislative frameworks to be proposed as a joint ECS/ASCOBANS/ACCOBAMS workshop to be held at the 2016 European Cetacean Society Conference, and one carrying forward the Agreement’s work on management procedures relating to anthropogenic removal of small cetaceans.
A preliminary list of the Action Points and Decisions agreed at the meeting is available in attachment. The full report will become available in due course on the AC22 meeting page.
The day before AC22, on 28 September, the North Sea Group – a steering group for the Conservation Plan for the Harbour Porpoise in the North Sea – held its 5th meeting (NSG5). The week concluded with a workshop on Remote Electronic Monitoring with Regards to Bycatch of Small Cetaceans held on Friday, 2 October.
Last updated on 15 October 2015