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Marine and Coastal Living Resources

Marine and coastal living resources make up one of the programme elements of the elaborated programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity, adopted at the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties and contained in the annex to decision VII/5.

The overall goal of this programme element is to achieve conservation and long-term sustainable use of marine and coastal living resources in a manner that respects both societal interests and the integrity of ecosystems. Deep seabed biodiversity and coral are two focal areas of this programme element.

Many of the world's fishery resources are in danger of depletion. In addition, other living resources, such as mangroves, coral species and species amenable to bioprospecting, are subject to or under threat of overexploitation. The principal impact of overexploitation is unsustainable removal of marine and coastal living resources. The significant threats to biological diversity include habitat destruction, destructive fishing and Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, and by-catch.

The increasing number and severity of coral bleaching events induced by climate change is also a cause of concern to the Parties to the Convention. As a result, the Conference of the Parties updated the specific work plan on coral bleaching in decision VII/5 with the aim to make it increasingly action-oriented in undertaking management actions and strategies to support reef resilience, rehabilitation and recovery. The amendments to the coral bleaching work plan recognize the need to manage coral reefs for resistance and resilience to, and recovery from, episodes of raised sea temperatures and/or coral bleaching, including taking such factors into account when designing networks of marine protected areas (MPAs).

The Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity have also expressed their concerns about the increased risks to biodiversity in marine waters beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. This concern is expressed in decision VII/5, where the COP underlined that there is an urgent need for international cooperation and action to improve conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, including through the establishment of marine protected areas consistent with international law and based on scientific information. In this regard, seamounts, hydrothermal vents, cold-water corals and other vulnerable ecosystems were identified in paragraph 59 of decision VII/5 as threatened areas in need of rapid action to address threats by increasing human activities in the context of the precautionary approach and the ecosystem approach.

The COP recognized that MPAs represent only one of the many available tools for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction, and that other means for preventing practices destructive to biodiversity also exist. With this in mind, the COP, in paragraph 61, called upon the United Nations General Assembly and other relevant international and regional organizations, within their mandate, according to their rules of procedure, to urgently take the necessary short-term, medium-term and long-term measures to eliminate/avoid destructive practices, consistent with international law, on scientific bases, including the application of precaution, for example, consideration on a case-by-case basis, of interim prohibition of destructive practices adversely impacting the marine biological diversity associated in particular with areas with seamounts, hydrothermal vents, cold-water corals, other vulnerable ecosystems and certain other underwater features.

The ecosystem approach remains the basis for the Convention’s approach to the management of living resources. According to decision II/10, as adopted by the Conference of the Parties at its second meeting in Jakarta in November 1995, the present mono-species approach to modeling and assessment should be augmented by an ecosystem process-oriented approach, based on research of ecosystem processes and functions, with an emphasis on identifying ecologically critical processes that consider the spatial dimension of these processes. Models of ecosystem processes should be developed through trans-disciplinary scientific groups, including ecologists, oceanographers, economists, and fisheries experts, and be applied to the management of sustainable marine and coastal resources and environment. The central role of the ecosystem approach is also echoed in decision IV/5, V/3 and VII/5.

Programme element 2 on marine and coastal living resources is composed of:

Goal: To ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal living resources

  • Operational objective 2.1

To promote ecosystem approaches to the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal living resources, including the identification of key variables or interactions, for the purpose of assessing and monitoring, first, components of biological diversity; second, the sustainable use of such components; and, third, ecosystem effects.

  • Operational objective 2.2

To make available to the Parties information on marine genetic resources in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction and, as appropriate, on coastal and marine genetic resources under national jurisdiction from publicly available information sources.

  • Operational objective 2.3

  1. the biological and socio-economic consequences of physical degradation and destruction of key marine and coastal habitats including mangrove ecosystems, tropical and cold-water coral-reef ecosystems, seamount ecosystems and seagrass ecosystems including identification and promotion of management practices, methodologies and policies to reduce and mitigate impacts upon marine and coastal biological diversity and to restore mangrove forests and rehabilitate damaged coral reef; and in particular
  2. the impacts of mangrove forest destruction, coral bleaching and related mortality on coral-reef ecosystems and the human communities which depend upon coral-reef services, including through financial and technical assistance.

  • Operational objective 2.4

To enhance the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity of marine living resources in areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme