Protection of High Seas biodiversity in the Antilles, West Africa and Antarctica: inventory of EBSAs and VMEs


To protect deep-sea biodiversity, the United Nations have adopted a number of resolutions that should protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), such as cold water corals and sponges, by the regulation of deep-sea fisheries on the high seas. In a parallel process, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) calls upon states to identify Ecological and Biological Significant Areas (EBSAs) that serve as focal areas, without any special legal status, and establish a network of marine protected areas by 2012. In addition, at the tenth meeting of the Conference to the Parties of the CBD in Nagoya, in 2010, it was agreed that by 2020, 10% of coastal and marine areas should be protected.

The Netherlands is involved in both processes since our country has ratified the CBD and therefore is bound to contribute to the protection of biodiversity, both in its national waters and in the high seas. In this report we provide a worldwide overview on the protection of VMEs and of the status of the EBSA selection processes as per March 2012. Next, we zoom in on three areas that are of interest to the Dutch government (Caribbean, West Africa, Antarctica) and we summarize the spatial protection measures, list the closed VME areas and EBSA selection processes and we provide information on the regional seas conventions and their mandates.

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