CMS and Marine Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

Atlantic Humpback Whale © Scott PortelliNew York/Bonn, 21 August 2013 – The CMS Secretariat has been attending the Sixth Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction taking place in New York, 19-23 August 2013.

The Working Group is reviewing a range of issues including area-based management tools such as marine protected areas, and environmental impact assessments. Gaps and ways forward to ensure an effective legal framework to conserve and sustainably use marine biodiversity in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (ABNJ) are being investigated. Its recommendations will be forwarded to the United Nations General Assembly. Lyle Glowka, Executive Coordinator of the CMS Office - Abu Dhabi, made a statement at the Working Group on behalf of the CMS Secretariat.

Marine areas beyond national jurisdiction are common ocean areas that no country or international organization is solely responsible for managing. They include open ocean areas encompassing the migratory range of cetaceans, sharks, marine turtles and seabirds. Twenty-seven species on CMS Appendix I and 53 species on Appendix II have ABNJ as part of their range. They are subject to a wide array of threats including by-catch and entanglement. Ineffective conservation or management measures in one part of a range undermine those taken elsewhere, depriving individual states and the entire international community of the benefits these species provide to biodiversity and human well-being.

Glowka introduced CMS’s “migratory range approach” which aims to coordinate actions across the range of migratory marine species, and the five tools CMS uses to achieve this: national level action, flag vessel jurisdiction, CMS Conference of Parties resolutions, CMS agreements and collaboration with other international organizations. Seven CMS agreements apply to migratory marine species whose range includes ABNJ.

“Area-based conservation measures and environmental impact assessment requirements in ABNJ discussed by the Working Group would support CMS efforts. However, they need to be conceived and implemented taking into consideration the special needs of migratory marine species, and complement CMS’s long-standing approach,” he stated. 

National Geographic/Census of Marine Life map

Fact Sheet: Migratory Marine Species in areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (ABNJ)




Last updated on 10 June 2015