Activity 3: Assessment of Marine and Coastal Biodiversity

Below are the global and regional obligations in this activity:
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Component 1: Guidelines (Indicators and Targets)

Directly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Develop scientific and technical guidance for the implementation of environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental assessments for activities and processes under national jurisdiction and control which may have significant adverse impacts on 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 CBD Decision IX/20, 8 SEE COMMENTARY 1
  • Identify shared wetlands, river basins and wetland-dependent species in implementing the Guidelines for international cooperation under the Ramsar Convention, Ramsar Resolution VII.19, 10i

Indirectly relevant obligations and commitments

Component 2: Research Requirements

Directly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Increase marine scientific research activities, in order to improve understanding and knowledge of the oceans and the deep sea, including, in particular, the extent and vulnerability of deep sea biodiversity and ecosystems , UNGA Resolution 63/111, 142
  • Improve understanding and knowledge of the deep sea, including, in particular, the extent and vulnerability of deep sea biodiversity and ecosystems, by increasing marine scientific research activities, UNGA Resolution 60/30, 85
  • Identify priority issues, species and habitats in the marine sphere requiring intervention by CMS in the next decade; CMS Resolution 9.9, 1
  • Identify endangered shark species that require consideration for inclusion in the Appendices, CITES Resolution 12.6
  • Identify activities and processes under national jurisdiction or control which may have significant adverse impact on deep seabed ecosystems and species beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, CBD Decision VII/5, 56 SEE COMMENTARY 10
  • Develop a research programme and conduct analyses of data on the common minke whale off the Korean peninsula, IWC Resolution 2005:2
  • Develop scientific research programmes on the migration, distribution, breeding, population assessment and other research of the entire range of the western gray whale. Resolution 2004-1
  • Undertake genetic and telemetry studies to identify narwhal stocks and improve catch reporting, as well as to assess the potential impact of threats including radionuclide contamination, Resolution 2001-13
  • Intensify research efforts in East Asia to discover the cause of the decline in ducks and large water birds, Ramsar Recommendation 3.2
  • Identify and review emerging and existing threats to migratory species and obstacles to migration identified and reviewed, CMS Resolution 8.2, Annex - SEE COMMENTARY 11
  • Enhance scientific activity to better understand the effects of climate change on the marine environment and marine biodiversity, UNGA Resolution 63/111, 100
  • Undertake risk assessments of alien species in wetlands, Ramsar Resolution VIII.18, 15 - SEE COMMENTARY 12
  • Identify invasive alien species in Ramsar sites and the threats they pose, Ramsar Resolution VIII.18, 16 - SEE COMMENTARY 13
  • Gather information on coral bleaching and related mortality on coral-reef ecosystems and the human communities which depend upon coral-reef services, CBD Decision VII/5, 5 and CBD Decision VII/5, 5 – Annex I (CBD PoW on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity) SEE COMMENTARY 14

Indirectly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Develop strategies for plant conservation with targets, including within the context of national biodiversity strategies and action plans and other relevant national and regional policies and action plans, CBD Decision IX/3, 1,b SEE COMMENTARY 15
  • Develop rapid assessment tools for the design and implementation of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use activities contributing to adaptation to climate change, CBD Decision VIII/30, 2
  • Initiate a legal and institutional review of cultural, environmental and social impact assessment, CBD Decision VII/16, F 2
  • Identify which migratory species are most likely to be impacted by climate change or climate change mitigation or adaptation activities, CMS Resolution 9.7, 2
  • Improve, integrate and analyse data sets across different flyways to determine migratory routes and population dynamics of species, CMS Resolution 8.27, 2
  • Support decision-making and rapid response through the development of risk analysis on invasive alien species, CBD Decision VII/13, 6 b : - SEE COMMENTARY 16
  • Carry out research and assessments on invasive alien species, CBD Decision VI/23, 24 - SEE COMMENTARY 17
  • Encourage research proposals on by-catch in geographical areas in which there is a particular lack of information,CMS Recommendation 7.2, c
  • Evaluate the possible negative ecological impacts of wind turbines on nature, particularly migratory species, prior to deciding upon permission for wind turbines, CMS Resolution 7.5, 1c
  • Assess the cumulative environmental impacts of wind turbines on migratory species: CMS Resolution 7.5, 1d
  • Advise on the issuance of exports permits and certificates of introduction for the sea, stating whether the proposed trade would be detrimental to the survival of the species in question: CITES Resolution 10.3 Recommends (g) - SEE COMMENTARY 18
  • Base findings and advice regarding export on the scientific review of available biological, ecological and trade information relating to the species concerned, CITES Resolution 10.3 Recommends (h)
  • Take into account any potential detriment to the survival of the listed species, when considering the making of non-detriment finding in accordance with Article IV paragraph 2 (a), for specimens of hybrids that are subject to the provisions of the Convention, CITES Resolution 10.17
  • Promote research on migratory species, CMS Article II, 3a
Component 3: Fisheries and Fish stocks (including sharks)

Directly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Assess and address the impacts of global climate change on the sustainability of fish stocks and the habitats that support them, UNGA Resolution 63/112, 3
  • Identify endangered shark species that require consideration for inclusion in the Appendices, CITES Resolution 12.6
  • Assess the impacts of fishing, other human activities and environmental factors on target stocks and associated species, UNFSA Article 5d
  • Establish processes to strengthen data collection and reporting, UNGA Resolution 63/112, 11
  • Ensure that fisheries and other ecosystem data collection is performed in a coordinated and integrated manner , UNGA Resolution 63/112, 99
  • Collect and share data concerning fishing activities, as well as information from research programmes, UNFSA Article 5j – SEE COMMENTARY 19
  • Take action to address the issue of lost or abandoned fishing gear and related marine debris, including through the collection of data on gear loss, economic costs to fisheries and other sectors, and the impact on marine ecosystems, UNGA Resolution 60/31, 77 – SEE COMMENTARY 20
  • Study the causes and methods of and contributing factors to illegal fishing to increase knowledge and understanding of those possible connections, and to make the findings publicly available, UNGA Resolution 63/112, 59
  • advice from relevant scientific, research and management bodies when making non-detriment findings for CITES-listed shark species, CITES Decision 14.111
  • Assess whether individual bottom fishing activities would have significant adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems, UNGA Resolution 61/105, 83a – SEE COMMENTARY 21
  • Identify vulnerable marine ecosystems and determine whether bottom fishing activities would cause significant adverse impacts to such ecosystems and the long-term sustainability of deep sea fish stocks, UNGA Resolution 61/105, 83b– SEE COMMENTARY 22
  • Determine the impact of fisheries by-catch on migratory species for fisheries within waters under jurisdiction, or carried out by flagged fishing vessels under jurisdiction or control, by implementing appropriate schemes: CMS Recommendation 7.2, b SEE COMMENTARY 23
  • Develop processes to assess flag States’ performance, UNFSA RC, Annex, Article 43g

Indirectly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Develop processes to assess the flag state performance , UNGA Resolution 63/112, 47
Component 4: Cetaceans

Directly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Identify the status of the populations of Antarctic minke, Bryde’s and Pygmy right whales, Resolution 7.15, 1
  • Develop a research programme and conduct analyses of data on the common minke whale off the Korean peninsula, IWC Resolution 2005:2
  • Develop scientific research programmes on the migration, distribution, breeding, population assessment and other research of the entire range of the western gray whale. Resolution 2004-1
  • Undertake genetic and telemetry studies to identify narwhal stocks and improve catch reporting, as well as to assess the potential impact of threats including radionuclide contamination, Resolution 2001-13
  • Take all practicable measures to obtain data biological data in connection with the operations of factory ships and land stations, ICRW Article VIII, 4
  • Encourage, recommend, or if necessary, organize studies and investigations relating to whales and whaling, but conduct scientific research under special permit through the use of non-lethal means, ICRW Article IV and VIII, and IWC Resolution 1995:9 – SEE COMMENTARY 24
  • Halt the directed takes of Dall’s porpoises until a full assessment has been carried out, Resolution 2001-12 – SEE COMMENTARY 35

Indirectly relevant obligations and commitments

    No obligations!
Component 5: Turtles

Directly relevant obligations and commitments

Indirectly relevant obligations and commitments

    No obligations!
Component 6: Birds

Directly relevant obligations and commitments

Indirectly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Identify which migratory species are most likely to be impacted by climate change or climate change mitigation or adaptation activities, CMS Resolution 9.7, 2
  • Improve, integrate and analyse data sets across different flyways to determine migratory routes and population dynamics of species, CMS Resolution 8.27, 2
  • Identify priorities for future research, in particular which challenges for migratory species benefit from capacity building; CMS Resolution 9.12, 3
Component 7: Human Activities

Directly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Assess the potential effects of planned activities under national jurisdiction or control when there are reasonable grounds for believing that such activities may cause substantial pollution of or significant and harmful changes to the marine environment and communicate results, UNCLOS Article 206
  • Assess the impacts of fishing, other human activities and environmental factors on target stocks and associated species, UNFSA Article 5d
  • Apply, for assessing the impacts of extractive use, the SEA guidance on Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment: updated scientific and technical guidance, Ramsar Resolution X.26, 14 and Ramsar Resolution X.17, Annex
  • Ensure that, in SEA and EIA studies related to extractive industries, potential upstream and downstream impacts in river basins are fully considered through ecosystem approaches, Ramsar Resolution X.26, 17 - SEE COMMENTARY 28
  • Scientific research proposals on ocean fertilization should be assessed on a case-by-case basis using an assessment framework to be developed by the scientific groups under the London Convention and Protocol; UNGA Resolution 63/111,115
  • Ensure that ocean fertilization activities are not carried out until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities, including an assessment of associated risks; UNGA Resolution 63/111,116 and CBD Decision IX/16, 4 SEE COMMENTARY 36
  • Scientific studies on ocean fertilization should be authorized only if justified by the need to gather specific scientific data, should be subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts of the research studies on the marine environment, should be strictly controlled and should not be used for generating and selling carbon offsets or for any other commercial purposes; UNGA Resolution 63/111,116

Indirectly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Monitor and assess long term impacts of tourism on biodiversity and consequently improve strategies and plans for tourism activities, CBD Decision V/25, 4c
  • Assess the applicability and status of implementation of the Guidelines on biodiversity and tourism development, CBD Decision VII/14, 7 and CBD Decision VII/14, Annex
  • Collect baseline information in order to strengthen and support SEA and EIA processes, especially in those areas that are potentially the focus of exploration and development of new extractive industrial projects, Ramsar Resolution X.26, 23
  • Identify processes and categories of activities which have or are likely to have significant adverse impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, CBD Article 7c
Component 8: Climate Change

Directly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Enhance scientific activity to better understand the effects of climate change on the marine environment and marine biodiversity, UNGA Resolution 63/111, 100
  • Assess and address the impacts of global climate change on the sustainability of fish stocks and the habitats that support them, UNGA Resolution 63/112, 3
  • Improve efforts to address coral bleaching by, inter alia, improving monitoring to predict and identify bleaching events , UNGA Resolution 63/111, 138
  • Gather information on coral bleaching and related mortality on coral-reef ecosystems and the human communities which depend upon coral-reef services, CBD Decision VII/5, 5 and CBD Decision VII/5, 5 – Annex I (CBD PoW on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity) SEE COMMENTARY 29
  • Pursue urgently further research on ocean acidification, UNGA Resolution 63/111, 99 – SEE COMMENTARY 30

Indirectly relevant obligations and commitments

  • Develop rapid assessment tools for the design and implementation of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use activities contributing to adaptation to climate change, CBD Decision VIII/30, 2
  • Identify vulnerable regions, sub regions and, where possible, ecosystem types, including vulnerable components of biodiversity within these areas, in order to enhance the integration of climate-change considerations related to biodiversity in the implementation of the CBD Convention, CBD Decision IX/16, A, 4, a
  • Identify the properties under most serious threat of climate change, WHC Decision 29 COM 7B.a, 10
  • Identify which migratory species are most likely to be impacted by climate change or climate change mitigation or adaptation activities, CMS Resolution 9.7, 2
  • Undertake assessments of country-specific technology needs for mitigation and adaptation and make the results available, UNFCCC Decision 4/CP.7, 1 and UNFCCC Decision 4/CP.7, Annex (Framework for meaningful and effective actions to enhance the implementation of Article 4, paragraph 5, of the Convention ) – SEE COMMENTARY 31
  • Assess the threats and likely impacts of climate change and both the positive and negative impacts of climate change mitigation and adaptation activities on biodiversity, CBD Decision IX/16, A, 4c SEE COMMENTARY 32
  • Follow an assessment and evaluation process to prevent maladaptation and to ensure that climate change adaptation actions are environmentally sound, UNFCCC Decision 1/CP.10, 4 - SEE COMMENTARY 33
  • Review the range states list for CMS species as changes in distribution are seen as a consequence of climate change: CMS Resolution 8,13, 1c
  • Consider the potential impacts of climate change within management planning, in particular with monitoring, and risk preparedness strategies, and take early action in response, WHC Decision 29 COM 7B.a, 6
  • Monitor the impact of droughts on the ecological character of Ramsar sites and report to the Ramsar Bureau, Ramsar Resolution VIII.35, 15 : - SEE COMMENTARY 34

Restrict again!

Author Commentary 1

Note that, for the purpose of CBD Decision IX/20, 8 and 9, an expert workshop was established under CBD Decision IX/20, 10 , with a mandate to discuss scientific and technical aspects relevant to environmental impact assessment in areas beyond national jurisdiction with a view to contributing to the development of such scientific and technical guidance, building on ongoing relevant sectoral, regional and national environmental impact assessment efforts.

Author Commentary 2

CBD Decision VII/30, 15 basically repeats CBD Decision III/9, 5 on national targets for biodiversity conservation although additionally asking for incorporation of the targets into plans and programmes.

Author Commentary 3

CBD Article 7 requires Parties to identify and monitor biodiversity

Author Commentary 4

Guidelines for the conduct of cultural, environmental and social impact assessments regarding developments proposed to take place on, or which are likely to impact on, sacred sites and on lands and waters traditionally occupied or used by indigenous and local communities

Author Commentary 5

CBD Decision VII/32, 1 , CBD Decision V/18, 1c and CBD Decision III/18, 6 on the integration of biodiversity into impact assessments complement each other and partially overlap.

Author Commentary 6

CBD Decision VII/32, 1 , CBD Decision V/18, 1c and CBD Decision III/18, 6 on the integration of biodiversity into impact assessments complement each other and partially overlap.

Author Commentary 7

Ramsar Resolution VIII.9, 10 and CMS Resolution 7.2, 3 endorse CBD Decision VI/7, A2 (part 1), to which the CBD Guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact assessment legislation and/or process and in strategic environmental assessment are annexed.

Author Commentary 8

This is target 2.8 in the Strategic Plan 2006-2011, under objective 2: To ensure that migratory species benefit from the best possible conservation measures.

Author Commentary 9

Ramsar Resolution VIII.9, 10 and CMS Resolution 7.2, 3 endorse CBD Decision VI/7, A2 (part 1) to which the CBD Guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact assessment legislation and/or process and in strategic environmental assessment are annexed.

Author Commentary 10

This relates to the implementation of Article 3 of the CBD Convention

Author Commentary 11

This is target 1.4 in the Strategic Plan 2006-2011, under objective 1: To ensure that the conservation and management of migratory species is based on the best available information.

Author Commentary 12

Ramsar Resolution VIII.18, 16 and Ramsar Resolution VII.14, 18 are largely identical, while Ramsar Resolution VIII.18, 15 adds climate change as an aspect to be taken into account.

Author Commentary 13

Ramsar Resolution VIII.18, 16 and Ramsar Resolution VII.14, 18 are largely identical, while Ramsar Resolution VIII.18, 15 adds climate change as an aspect to be taken into account.

Author Commentary 14

This is Operational Objective 2.3, under programme element 2 of the CBD program of work on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity: Marine and coastal living resources. The goal of this programme elements is to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal living resources

Author Commentary 15

The Global Strategy on Plant Conservation can be found in document CBD Decision VI/9, Annex

Author Commentary 16

CBD Decision VI/23, 12 , CBD Decision VI/23, 24 ( a , b, e,i )and CBD Decision VII/13, 6 b address the need for risk assessment on invasive alien species, stressing different aspects: capacity-development ( CBD Decision VI/23, 12 ), support to decision-making and rapid response (CBD Decision VII/13, 6 b ), and research and assessment of a number of specific features of the invasive alien species challenge ( CBD Decision VI/23, 24 ( a , b, e,i )).

Author Commentary 17

Including on:
a. Characteristics, vulnerability of ecosystems, and the impact of climate change
b. The impact on biological diversity
c. The importance of various pathways for the introduction of invasive alien species
d. The socio-economic implications of invasive alien species
e. The development of environmentally benign methods to control and eradicate invasive alien species
f. The use of bio control agents to control and eradicate invasive alien species
g. Means to enhance the capacity of ecosystems to resist or recover from alien species invasions
h. Priorities for taxonomic work
i. Criteria for assessing risks from alien species
j. The use of traditional knowledge in addressing invasive alien species
CBD Decision VI/23, 12 , CBD Decision VI/23, 24 ( a , b, e,i )and CBD Decision VII/13, 6 b address the need for risk assessment on invasive alien species, stressing different aspects: capacity-development ( CBD Decision VI/23, 12 ), support to decision-making and rapid response (CBD Decision VII/13, 6 b ), and research and assessment of a number of specific features of the invasive alien species challenge ( CBD Decision VI/23, 24 ( a , b, e,i )).

Author Commentary 18

This paragraph reinforces the obligations set out in Article IV.2 (a) and Article IV.6 (a).

Author Commentary 19

Data requirements are specified in ANNEX I of the UNFSA

Author Commentary 20

This obligation has been reaffirmed by UNGA Resolution 63/112, 111

Author Commentary 21

This obligation is of primary importance for the protection of vulnerable ecosystems and deep sea stocks from destructive fishing practices. It is directed to regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements with the competence to regulate bottom fisheries. It is relevant for States, through their membership in RFMOs, as well as the direct obligations established under , UNGA Resolution 61/105, 85 and 86, in areas where no RFMOs exists which are mandated to regulate these fisheries. UNGA Resolution 63/112, 103 calls again for the urgent implementation of this provision.

Author Commentary 22

This obligation is of primary importance for the protection of vulnerable ecosystems and deep sea stocks from destructive fishing practices. It is directed to regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements with the competence to regulate bottom fisheries. It is relevant for States, through their membership in RFMOs, as well as the direct obligations established under , UNGA Resolution 61/105, 85 and 86, in areas where no RFMOs exists which are mandated to regulate these fisheries. UNGA Resolution 63/112, 103 calls again for the urgent implementation of this provision.

Author Commentary 23

CMS Recommendation 7.2, b asks Parties to determine the impact of by-catch on migratory species whilst CMS Resolution 6.2, 2 asks to protect migratory species from by-catch. Schemes should include, where appropriate, onboard observers, and where relevant, this should be carried out in the context of FAO’s International Plans of Action on Seabirds and Sharks.

Author Commentary 24

The commitment to scientific research is enshrined in Article IV of the ICRW. As formulated under the convention, it establishes an obligation to the Commission, rather than to Parties to the Convention. Article VIII gives members the right to issue permits for the take of cetaceans for scientific purposes.

Although Article VIII does indeed exempt whales taken for scientific purposes from the specific regulations of the Convention, it does not authorize members to ignore the general obligation to conserve whales for the benefit of future generations. Nor does it exempt members from general requirements under international law, including the Law of the Sea, to ensure that marine resources are not overexploited and to co-operate with the appropriate international organizations.

Current definitions of non-compliance with respect to marine conservation, such as that in the draft FAO compliance agreement, define non-compliance to include any action that undermines the effectiveness of conservation measures adopted by the competent regional or international organization, regardless of whether or not the action is technically legal. Thus, even countries which take the view that Article VIII of the ICRW legalizes all scientific takes, however excessive, cannot claim to be in compliance with the ICRW so long as they continue to ignore IWC decisions in this regard.

Author Commentary 25

This recommendation applies to the Range States of the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and eastern Atlantic Ocean regions.

Author Commentary 26

CITES Decision 13.38, c applies to States and territories in the wider Caribbean region.

Author Commentary 27

Ramsar Resolution VIII.38, 20 and Ramsar Recommendation 4.12 both ask Contracting Parties to participate in water bird surveys, with Ramsar Resolution VIII.38, 20 emphasizing globally threatened and data deficient species.

Author Commentary 28

Apply Wetlands and river basin management: consolidated scientific and technical guidance, Ramsar Resolution X.19 – Annex

Author Commentary 29

This is Operational Objective 2.3, under programme element 2 of the CBD program of work on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity: Marine and coastal living resources. The goal of this programme elements is to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal living resources.

Author Commentary 30

The Resolution refers to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including its findings on the acidification of oceans, and to paragraph 4 of CBD decision IX/20.

Author Commentary 31

This refers to paragraph 5 and is directed at Parties other than developed country Parties, particularly developed country Parties, and other developed Parties not included in Annex II. Results are to be made available through the national communications and other related national reports and channels (e.g. technology information clearing houses). UNFCCC Article 4.5 refers to technology transfer. See also the adaptation section of the Biodiversity and Climate Change module.

Author Commentary 32

The objective of this obligation is to enhance the integration of climate-change considerations related to biodiversity in the implementation of the CBD Convention.

Author Commentary 33

This can be seen as a specific way of implementing UNFCCC Article 4.1(f) . See also the adaptation section of the Biodiversity and Climate Change module.

Author Commentary 34

Author Commentary 35

This obligation applies specifically to Japan.

Author Commentary 36

The decision has been taken in accordance with the precautionary approach. Decision IX/16, 3 Recognizes the current absence of reliable data covering all relevant aspects of ocean fertilization, without which there is an inadequate basis on which to assess their potential risks. CBD Decision IX/16, 4 further provides for an exception for small scale scientific research studies within coastal waters. Such studies should only be authorized if justified by the need to gather specific scientific data, and should also be subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts of the research studies on the marine environment, and be strictly controlled, and not be used for generating and selling carbon offsets or any other commercial purposes.