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North-East Atlantic governments delay protection of species at risk of extinction

Press Release Date

Thursday, January 21, 2016
Location: Madrid
Contact: Marta Madina: mmadina@oceana.org 0034 911 440 884

Oceana is outraged that governments have refused to expand the OSPAR list of threatened and declining species and habitats, thus further delaying the protection of declining ecosystems and species at risk of extinction in the North-East Atlantic. The Convention meeting held in Trondheim (Norway) concluded yesterday, with countries agreeing on few actions to improve either the inadequate list or the procedures for updating it. Despite OSPAR’s motto, ‘Protecting and conserving the North-East Atlantic and its resources,’ some countries appeared to be more interested in delisting species than in addressing gaps in protection.

“The latest OSPAR meeting can be easily summarised: North-East Atlantic countries see no urgency in protecting species threatened with extinction or fundamental marine habitats that are in decline due to human activities. Moreover, they did not even agree on any concrete changes to fix the listing process that so far has failed to recognise 8 out 10 threatened fish species. The best available science is being ignored”, stated Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for Oceana in Europe.

Despite the inadequacy of the OSPAR list, and the governments’ 2010 commitment to update it, no species or habitats have been added since 2008 and no countries came to the table with new proposals.

Two proposals presented by Oceana – to list kelp forests and Haploops communities – were not adopted. Both kelps and Haploops are important ocean builders, which create complex habitats that support many other species by providing them with shelter, feeding, breeding, and nursery areas. They are also strongly affected by physical impacts or changes in water quality due to pollution, temperature due to climate change, and eutrophication.

Photo gallery of threatened species unprotected by OSPAR