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SBSTTA 13 Recommendations

SBSTTA 13 Recommendation XIII/3

XIII/3. Options for preventing and mitigating the impacts of some activities to selected seabed habitats, and scientific and ecological criteria for marine areas in need of protection and biogeographic classification systems

Recalling that United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/30 emphasized the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and reaffirmed that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, and that its integrity needs to be maintained, as recognized also by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in chapter 17 of Agenda 21,

Recalling the section of decision VIII/24 on options for cooperation for the establishment of marine protected areas in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, in particular paragraph 42, in which the Conference of the Parties recognizes that the Convention on Biological Diversity has a key role in supporting the work of the General Assembly with regard to marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction, by focusing on the provision of scientific and, as appropriate, technical information and advice relating to marine biological diversity, the application of the ecosystem approach and the precautionary approach, and in delivering the 2010 target, [3]/

Recalling also paragraph 38 of the same decision, which recognizes that application of tools beyond and within national jurisdiction need to be coherent, compatible and complementary and without prejudice to the rights and obligations of coastal States under international law,

In pursuance of the requests contained in paragraph 7 of decision VIII/21 and paragraphs 44 and 46 of decision VIII/24 of the Conference of the Parties,

1. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice:

(a) Requests the Executive Secretary to make available [the recommendations on marine and coastal biodiversity of the thirteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, as well as] the results of the Expert Workshop on Ecological Criteria and Biogeographic Classification Systems for Marine Areas in Need of Protection, [and information documents UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/INF/11, 12, and 13] for the purpose of informing the second meeting of the United Nations 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 as well as other relevant international [and regional] organizations;

(b) Takes note of the draft report on Global Open Oceans and Deep Sea-habitats (GOODS) Biogeographic Classification (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/1NF/19) compiled by an expert group drawing mainly from the results of the Scientific Experts Workshop on Biogeographic Classification Systems in Open Ocean and Deep Seabed Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, held in Mexico City, from 22 to 24 January 2007;

(c) Encourages Parties to contribute to the peer review of the above draft report, and requests the Executive Secretary to make available the final report for the information of participants in the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, and further forward it to the fourteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body;

(d) Requests the Executive Secretary, in collaboration with Parties, other Governments, and relevant international [and regional] organizations, in particular the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to [further develop technical guidance for [the application of] the global biogeographic classification of ocean regions, and] compile information on aligning and nesting regional and subregional biogeographic classifications, which are currently available or under development, within a global context, and make this information available to Parties at future meetings of the Subsidiary Body before the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties;

2. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice recommends that the Conference of the Parties at its ninth meeting adopt a decision along the following lines:

The Conference of the Parties,

Recalling that United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/30 emphasized the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and reaffirmed that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, and that its integrity needs to be maintained, as recognized also by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in chapter 17 of Agenda 21,

Recalling the section of decision VIII/24 on options for cooperation for the establishment of marine protected areas in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, in particular paragraph 42, in which the Conference of the Parties recognizes that the Convention on Biological Diversity has a key role in supporting the work of the General Assembly with regard to marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction, by focusing on the provision of scientific and, as appropriate, technical information and advice relating to marine biological diversity, the application of the ecosystem approach and the precautionary approach, and in delivering the 2010 target, [4]/

Recalling also paragraph 38 of the same decision which recognizes that application of tools beyond and within national jurisdiction need to be coherent, compatible and complementary and without prejudice to the rights and obligations of coastal States under international law;

1. Takes note of the synthesis and review of the best available scientific studies on priority areas for biodiversity conservation in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, which was undertaken in pursuance of paragraph 44 (a) of decision VIII/24;

2. Taking into account the role of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, requests the Executive Secretary in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Parties, other Governments, and relevant international [and regional] organizations, to compile and synthesize available scientific information on the impacts of destructive fishing practices and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing on marine biodiversity and habitats, and make such information available for consideration, as appropriate, of the future meetings of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties;

3. Taking into account the role of International Maritime Organization, requests the Executive Secretary in collaboration with the International Maritime Organization, Parties, other Governments, and international [and regional] organizations, to compile and synthesize available scientific information on potential impacts of direct human-induced ocean fertilization and its impacts on marine biodiversity, and make such information available for the future meetings of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties;

4. Requests the Executive Secretary, in collaboration with Parties, other Governments, and international [and regional] organizations, to compile and synthesize available scientific information on ocean acidification and its impacts on marine biodiversity, which is identified as a potentially serious threat to cold-water corals and other marine biodiversity, and make such information available for consideration of the future meetings of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties;

5. Welcomes the review of spatial databases containing information on marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction and the development of an Interactive Map (IMap), which was prepared in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP - WCMC) in pursuance of paragraph 44 (c) of decision VIII/24, and requests the Executive Secretary, in collaboration with the UNEP – WCMC, to invite the International Maritime Organization and other international [and regional] organizations, to promote wide use of the Interactive Map (IMap), including, where appropriate, its integration into the World Database on Protected Areas, and continue, within the mandates of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to update relevant information, incorporating information on ecosystem functions and connectivity, threats and habitats in the water column, and further linkages with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and other relevant international and [regional] organizations, as appropriate;

6. Takes note of the various options that are being applied and/or under development to prevent and mitigate the adverse impacts of human activities to selected seabed habitats, as referred to in paragraph 5 of decision VIII/21;

[7. Invites Parties, other Governments and international [and regional] organizations, including in the context of the United Nations 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, to cooperate in further developing guidelines for the implementation of environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental assessments for activities and processes under their jurisdiction and control which have a potential to adversely impact marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, with a view to ensuring such activities are regulated in such a way that they do not compromise ecosystem integrity, and to report to the Conference of the Parties at its tenth meeting on progress made in that regard;]

8. Also invites Parties, other Governments and international [and regional] organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea and the International Maritime Organization, to cooperate in further developing and applying effective options for preventing and mitigating the adverse impacts of human activities to selected seabed habitats, and make available information on their experiences and case studies on and lessons learned from developing and applying options, and requests the Executive Secretary, in collaboration with relevant international [and regional] organizations, to compile and disseminate such information through the clearing-house mechanism and other means of communication;

9. Expresses its gratitude to the Government of Portugal for hosting and providing financial support for the Expert Workshop on Ecological Criteria and Biogeographic Classification Systems for Marine Areas in Need of Protection, held in the Azores, Portugal, from 2 to 4 October 2007, and to other Governments and organizations for sponsoring the participation of their representatives;

10. Welcomes the report of the Expert Workshop on Ecological Criteria and Biogeographic Classification Systems for Marine Areas in Need of Protection;

11. [Adopts][Takes notes of] scientific criteria, in annex I to the present recommendation, for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas in need of protection, [in open ocean waters and deep-sea habitats], [in marine areas beyond the national jurisdiction,] as well as scientific guidance, in annex II to the present recommendation, for designing representative networks of marine protected areas, as recommended by the Expert Workshop on Ecological Criteria and Biogeographic Classification Systems for Marine Areas in Need of Protection;

12. [Adopts][Takes note of] of the four initial steps to be taken in annex III to the present recommendation, in the development of such networks, [in open ocean waters and deep-sea habitats], as recommended by the Expert Workshop on Ecological Criteria and Biogeographic Classification Systems for Marine Areas in Need of Protection;

[13. Invites Parties, other Governments, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and other international [and regional] organizations, to submit to the Executive Secretary their views on [the use of] the scientific criteria in annex I, the scientific guidance in annex II, and the four initial steps in annex III below, and requests the Executive Secretary to compile these views and make them available to Parties as part of the efforts to further improve the criteria, scientific guidance, and steps[, and with a view to eventually being endorsed by the Conference of the Parties]];

[14. Recognizes the need to scientifically review these criteria in annex I and scientific guidance in annex II, when new scientific information as well as evidences and results from the practical application are made available, and decides to consider the need to establish a mechanism for such a review at a future meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice after the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties;]

15. [Invites] [Urges] Parties, other Governments, and relevant international [and regional] organizations to apply [, as appropriate,] the scientific criteria in annex I below, the scientific guidance in annex II, and initial steps in annex III, along with national policies and criteria, to identify ecologically significant and/or vulnerable marine areas in need of protection, [in open ocean waters and deep sea habitats,] for implementation of conservation and management measures including the establishment of representative networks of marine protected areas in accordance with international law[, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea];

[16. Acknowledges and welcomes the work undertaken by regional agreements and conventions in setting up such networks, in accordance with international law, and encourages cooperation and collaboration and capacity building amongst existing bodies [and urges Parties and other Governments to accelerate their efforts and increase collaboration and capacity-building among existing bodies]];

17. Recognizes that overwhelming evidence has been compiled, which emphasizes the need for urgent action to [promote the conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity in marine areas and] protect biodiversity in selected seabed habitats and marine areas in need of protection using the precautionary approach in accordance with the principle 15 of Rio Declaration and the Preamble of the Convention, [and international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea];

18. Urges Parties, other Governments and relevant international [and regional] organizations to undertake further research to improve understanding of marine biodiversity, specially in selected seabed habitats and marine areas in need of protection, including, in particular, elaboration of inventories and baselines to be used for inter alia assisting in the assessment of the status and trends of biodiversity, paying special attention to those ecosystems and critical habitats that are relatively unknown;

19. Calls upon Parties, other Governments and relevant international [and regional] organizations to collaborate on capacity development in developing countries, particularly least developed countries, small island developing States, as well as countries with economies in transition, for the application of the scientific criteria in annex I below and the scientific guidance in annex II, and for the mitigation of the adverse impacts of human activities in marine areas;

20. Calls upon Parties, other Governments and relevant international [and regional] organizations to collaborate with developing countries, particularly least developed countries, small island developing States, as well as countries with economies in transition, in enhancing their scientific, technical and technological capacities to engage in activities aimed at conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, including through specialized training, participation in research, and regional and subregional collaborative initiatives;

21. Invites Parties to promote full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, in accordance with the national legislation and applicable international obligations, when establishing new marine protected areas, taking into account, as appropriate, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Annex I

SCIENTIFIC CRITERIA FOR IDENTIFYING ECOLOGICALLY OR BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT MARINE AREAS IN NEED OF PROTECTION [IN OPEN-OCEAN WATERS AND DEEP-SEA HABITATS]

Criteria

Definition

Rationale

Examples

Consideration in application

Uniqueness or rarity Area contains either: (i) unique (“the only one of its kind”), rare (“occurs only in few locations”) or endemic species, populations or communities, and/or (ii) unique, rare or distinct, habitats or ecosystems; and/or (iii) unique or unusual geomorphological or oceanographic features
  • Irreplaceable
  • Loss would mean the probable permanent disappearance of diversity or a feature, or reduction of the diversity at any level.
  • Open ocean waters Sargasso Sea, Taylor column, persistent polynyas.

    Deep sea habitats

    endemic communities around submerged atolls; hydrothermal vents; sea mounts; pseudo-abyssal depression

  • Risk of biased-view of the perceived uniqueness depending on the information availability
  • Scale dependency of features such that unique features at one scale may be typical at another, thus a global and regional perspective must be taken
  • Special importance for life history stages of species Areas that are required for a population to survive and thrive. Various biotic and abiotic conditions coupled with species-specific physiological constraints and preferences tend to make some parts of marine regions more suitable to particular life-stages and functions than other parts. Area 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).
  • Connectivity between life-history stages and linkages between areas: trophic interactions, physical transport, physical oceanography, life history of species
  • Sources for information include: e.g. remote sensing, satellite tracking, historical catch and by-catch data, Vessel monitoring system (VMS) data.
  • Spatial and temporal distribution and/or aggregation of the species.
  • Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats Area containing habitat for the survival and recovery of endangered, threatened, declining species or area with significant assemblages of such species. To ensure the restoration and recovery of such species and habitats. 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).
  • Includes species with very large geographic ranges.
  • In many cases recovery will require reestablishment of the species in areas of its historic range.
  • Sources for information include: e.g. remote sensing, satellite tracking, historical catch and by-catch data, vessel-monitoring system (VMS) data.
  • Vulnerability, Fragility, Sensitivity, or Slow recovery Areas that contain a relatively high proportion of sensitive habitats, biotopes or species that are functionally fragile (highly susceptible to degradation or depletion by human activity or by natural events) or with slow recovery. The criteria indicate the degree of risk that will be incurred if human activities or natural events in the area or component cannot be managed effectively, or are pursued at an unsustainable rate.

    Vulnerability of species

  • Inferred from the history of how species or populations in other similar areas responded to perturbations.
  • Species of low fecundity, slow growth, long time to sexual maturity, longevity (e.g. sharks, etc).
  • Species with structures providing biogenic habitats, such as deepwater corals, sponges and bryozoans; deep-water species.
  • Vulnerability of habitats

  • Ice-covered areas susceptible to ship-based pollution.
  • Ocean acidification can make deep sea habitats more vulnerable to others, and increase susceptibility to human induced changes.
  • Interactions between vulnerability to human impacts and natural events
  • Existing definition emphasizes site specific ideas and requires consideration for highly mobile species
  • Criteria can be used both in its own right and in conjunction with other criteria.
  • Biological productivity Area containing species, populations or communities with comparatively higher natural biological productivity. Important role in fuelling ecosystems and increasing the growth rates of organisms and their capacity for reproduction
  • Frontal areas
  • Upwellings
  • Hydrothermal vents
  • Seamounts polynyas
  • Can be measured as the rate of growth of marine organisms and their populations, either through the fixation of inorganic carbon by photosynthesis, chemosynthesis, or through the ingestion of prey, dissolved organic matter or particulate organic matter
  • Can be inferred from remote-sensed products, e.g., ocean colour or process-based models
  • Time-series fisheries data can be used, but caution is required
  • Biological diversity Area contains comparatively higher diversity of ecosystems, habitats, communities, or species, or has higher genetic diversity. Important for evolution and maintaining the resilience of marine species and ecosystems
  • Sea-mounts
  • Fronts and convergence zones
  • Cold coral communities
  • Deep-water sponge communities
  • Diversity needs to be seen in relation to the surrounding environment
  • Diversity indices are indifferent to species substitutions
  • Diversity indices are indifferent to which species may be contributing to the value of the index, and hence would not pick up areas important to species of special concern, such as endangered species
  • Can be inferred from habitat heterogeneity or diversity as a surrogate for species diversity in areas where biodiversity has not been sampled intensively.
  • Naturalness Area with a comparatively higher degree of naturalness as a result of the lack of or low level of human-induced disturbance or degradation.
  • To protect areas with near natural structure, processes and functions
  • To maintain these areas as reference sites
  • To safeguard and enhance ecosystem resilience
  • Most ecosystems and habitats have examples with varying levels of naturalness, and the intent is that the more natural examples should be selected.
  • Priority should be given to areas having a low level of disturbance relative to their surroundings
  • In areas where no natural areas remain, areas that have successfully recovered, including reestablishment of species, should be considered.
  • Criteria can be used both in its own right and in conjunction with other criteria.
  • [Annex II

    SCIENTIFIC GUIDANCE FOR SELECTING AREAS TO ESTABLISH A REPRESENTATIVE NETWORK OF MARINE PROTECTED AREAS, INCLUDING IN [OPEN OCEAN WATERS AND DEEP-SEA HABITATS]

    Required network properties and components Definition Applicable site specific considerations (inter alia)
    Ecologically and biologically significant areas Ecologically and biologically significant areas are geographically or oceanographically discrete areas that provide important services to one or more species/populations of an ecosystem or to the ecosystem as a whole, compared to other surrounding areas or areas of similar ecological characteristics, or otherwise meet the criteria as identified in annex I.
  • Uniqueness or rarity
  • Special importance for life history stages of species
  • Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats
  • Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity or slow recovery
  • Biological productivity
  • Biological diversity
  • Naturalness
  • Representativity Representativity is captured in a network when it consists of areas representing the different biogeographical subdivisions of the global oceans and regional seas that reasonably reflect the full range of ecosystems, including the biotic and habitat diversity of those marine ecosystems. A full range of examples across a biogeographic habitat, or community classification; relative health of species and communities; relative intactness of habitat(s); naturalness
    Connectivity Connectivity in the design of a network allows for linkages whereby protected sites benefit from larval and/or species exchanges, and functional linkages from other network sites. In a connected network individual sites benefit one another. Currents; gyres; physical bottlenecks; migration routes; species dispersal; detritus; functional linkages. Isolated sites, such as isolated seamount communities, may also be included.
    Replicated ecological features Replication of ecological features means that more than one site shall contain examples of a given feature in the given biogeographic area. The term “features” means “species, habitats and ecological processes” that naturally occur in the given biogeographic area. Accounting for uncertainty, natural variation and the possibility of catastrophic events. Features that exhibit less natural variation or are precisely defined may require less replication than features that are inherently highly variable or are only very generally defined.
    Adequate and viable sites Adequate and viable sites indicate that all sites within a network should have size and protection sufficient to ensure the ecological viability and integrity of the feature(s) for which they were selected. Adequacy and viability will depend on size; shape; buffers; persistence of features; threats; surrounding environment (context); physical constraints; scale of features/processes; spillover/compactness

    [Annex III

    FOUR INITIAL STEPS BE TAKEN IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE NETWORKS OF MARINE PROTECTED AREAS:

    1. Scientific identification of an initial set of ecologically or biologically significant areas. The criteria in annex I above should be used, considering the best scientific information available, and applying the precautionary approach. This identification should focus on developing an initial set of sites already recognised for their ecological values, with the understanding that other sites could be added as more information becomes available.

    2. Develop/choose a biogeographic, habitat, and/or community classification system. This system should reflect the scale of the application and address the key ecological features within the area. This step will entail a separation of at least two realms–pelagic and benthic.

    3. Drawing upon steps 1 and 2 above, iteratively use qualitative and/or quantitative techniques to identify sites to include in a network. Their selection for consideration of enhanced management should reflect their recognised ecological importance or vulnerability, and address the requirements of ecological coherence through representativity, connectivity, and replication.

    4. Assess the adequacy and viability of the selected sites. Consideration should be given to their size, shape, boundaries, buffering, and appropriateness of the site management regime.]


    Note:

    3/: One delegation expressed the view that since the adoption of decision VIII/24, further developments might suggest modifications in the language used with regard to the application of the ecosystem approach, and that the World Summit on Sustainable Development established more than one target related to biodiversity, as contained in paragraph 44 of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

    4/: One delegation expressed the view that since the adoption of decision VIII/24, further developments might suggest modifications in the language used with regard to the application of the ecosystem approach, and that the World Summit on Sustainable Development established more than one target related to biodiversity, as contained in paragraph 44 of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

    • United Nations
    • United Nations Environment Programme