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2015 began in style for Oceana’s campaigners with an OSPAR meeting, hosted by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography in Gijón, the biggest city in the region of Asturias in the northern part of Spain. The Working Group on Protection of Species and Habitats (POSH) gathered for the first time to advance the work of the OSPAR Commission on protecting declining species and habitats in the North-East Atlantic.

In 2008, OSPAR listed 42 marine species and 16 marine habitats as threatened, and has since then adopted specific recommendations for actions to be taken by Parties on the identified groups (e.g. create Marine Protected Areas, establish educational program for the public, and carry out scientific research).  OSPAR POSH working group was mandated to establish working arrangements to further strengthen the cooperation at a regional level, through an increased collaboration on joint conservation plans and joint communication among several key fisheries authorities such as the UE, ICCAT or NEAFC. Experts also discussed possible additions to the OSPAR List with new species and habitats in need of protection.

As a result, Oceana has successfully proposed the protection of two new habitat types – Kelp Forests and Haploops communities - which will now be revised by national experts in order to make a reasonable scientific case for listing them.

Kelp forests along with coral reefs are one of the most vital ocean ecosystems providing shelter to thousands of marine species and habitats. The largest existing kelp forest in the world is the giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), reaching a height of 30 metres. As one of the fastest growing species in the world, it can grow up to 30cm per day. For a while now, Oceana has been working on the recognition of protection measures for kelp forests in Europe, that until now have not been given priority under European legislation.

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Haploops communities- are very important for other species as they account for the feeding ground for fish. They can be mostly observed in the Kattegat but also in the North Pacific, North Atlantic and the Atlantic coast of Europe, all the way from Norway to the Mediterranean and Adriatic. Regular monitoring of haploops has shown that they are in decline; the exact reason for which is still unknown. . In 2011 and 2012, Oceana conducted surveys at Kattegat trench and documented a number of rare benthic species of haploops communities.

 

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