COP 12 Decision XII/22

XII/22.Marine and coastal biodiversity: ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs)

The Conference of the Parties,
Recalling decision X/29 and decision XI/17,
Also recalling that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out,
Reiterating the central role of the General Assembly of the United Nations in addressing issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction,
1.Welcomes the scientific and technical evaluation of information contained in the reports of the regional workshops for describing ecologically or biologically significant marine areas held in seven regions: Southern Indian Ocean (Flic en Flac, Mauritius, 31 July-3 August 2012); 120 Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific (Galapagos, Ecuador, 28-31 August 2012; 121 North Pacific (Moscow, Russian Federation, 25 February-1 March 2013); 122 South-Eastern Atlantic (Swakopmund, Namibia, 8-12 April 2013); 123 Arctic (Helsinki, Finland, 3-7 March 2014) 124 ; North-West Atlantic (Montreal, Canada, 24-28 March 2014); 125 and Mediterranean (Málaga, Spain, 3-7 April 2014); 126
2.Expresses its gratitude to all donors, hosting countries and collaborating organizations involved in the organization of the regional workshops referred to above;
3.Recalling paragraph 26 of decision X/29 and paragraph 6 of decision XI/17, requests the Executive Secretary to include the summary reports prepared by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice at its eighteenth meeting, as annexed to the present decision, in the EBSA repository, and to submit them, prior to the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, to the General Assembly of the United Nations and particularly its Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, as well as to Parties, other Governments and relevant international organizations in line with the purpose and procedures set out in decisions X/29 and XI/17 , and further requests the Executive Secretary to present the reports to the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects;
4.Notes that there is an ongoing scientific and technical process applying the EBSA criteria in the North-East Atlantic;
5.Recalls the sovereignty of coastal States over their territorial sea, as well as their sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, as well as the rights of other States in these areas, in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and recognizes that the sharing of the outcomes of the EBSA process does not prejudice the sovereignty, sovereign rights or jurisdiction of coastal States, or the rights of other States;
6.Requests the Executive Secretary, in line with paragraph 36 of decision X/29 and paragraph 12 of decision XI/17, to continue to facilitate the description of areas meeting the criteria for EBSAs through the organization of additional regional or subregional workshops where Parties wish workshops to be held;
7.Invites Parties and other Governments to undertake national exercises, as appropriate, to describe areas meeting the EBSA criteria, or other relevant compatible and complementary nationally or intergovernmentally agreed scientific criteria in areas within national jurisdiction, taking into account States’ own established processes within their respective jurisdictions, and to consider making this information, and other relevant information, available through the EBSA repository or information-sharing mechanism, in accordance with the process established in decisions X/29 and XI/17, and requests the Executive Secretary to report on progress to a meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties;
8.Encourages Parties and other Governments to make use, as appropriate, of the scientific information regarding the description of areas meeting EBSA criteria, including the information in the EBSA repository and information-sharing mechanism, as well as the information from indigenous and local communities as well as relevant sectors, including the fisheries sector, when carrying out marine spatial planning, development of representative networks of marine protected areas, taking into account annex II to decision IX/20, and application of other area-based management measures in marine and coastal areas, with a view to contributing to national efforts to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets;
9.Welcoming United Nations General Assembly resolution 68/70 on oceans and the law of the sea, further invites, in this context, the United Nations General Assembly as well as other competent international organizations to consider using, as appropriate, the scientific information included in the EBSA repository regarding the descriptions of areas meeting the EBSA criteria in the implementation of their respective mandates;
10.Also requests the Executive Secretary, building upon the existing scientific guidance and drawing upon the lessons learned from the series of regional workshops to facilitate the description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria and views gathered from Parties and other Governments, to develop practical options to further enhance scientific methodologies and approaches on the description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria, ensuring that the best available scientific and technical information and traditional knowledge of various users of marine resources, including fishers, are used and that the products are scientifically sound and up-to-date, and to report on progress to a meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties;
11.Invites Parties and other Governments who find it appropriate to do so, individually, in accordance with national legislation, bilaterally or jointly at the regional level, and, where appropriate, in collaboration with competent intergovernmental organizations, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS, to undertake scientific and technical analysis of the status of marine and coastal biodiversity in areas, within the respective jurisdictions of Parties and other Governments and the mandates of intergovernmental organizations, described as meeting the EBSA criteria and contained in the EBSA repository;
12.Requests the Executive Secretary, in collaboration with Parties, other Governments, relevant organizations, including regional seas conventions and action plans, and, where appropriate, regional fisheries management organizations with regard to fisheries management, to facilitate technical training, including the organization of regional and/or subregional capacity-building workshops, where Parties wish workshops to be held, on scientific methodologies and approaches of applying the EBSA criteria as well as the compilation and use of scientific and technical information contained in the EBSA repository and information-sharing mechanism, and other relevant information, with a view to contributing to the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and to report on progress to a meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties;
13.Recalling paragraph 22 of decision XI/17 and recognizing the scientific gaps, regarding the description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria, requests the Executive Secretary, encourages Parties and invites other Governments to collaborate with relevant international scientific bodies including, inter alia, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, to address knowledge gaps and lack of scientific information regarding the description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria;
14.Requests the Executive Secretary, and invites Parties, other Governments, and funding organizations, as appropriate, to provide adequate, timely and sustainable support to address capacity-building and financial needs regarding the description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria in developing country Parties, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States as well as countries with economies in transition;
15.Recalling paragraph 24 of decision XI/17 and recognizing the importance of traditional knowledge as a source of information for describing areas meeting the EBSA criteria, encourages Parties to promote, as appropriate and in accordance with national legislation, the use of the traditional, scientific, technical and technological knowledge of indigenous and local communities at the national level, with their full and effective participation, in support of the description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria and requests the Executive Secretary to facilitate the participation of indigenous and local communities, including fisheries communities, with a view to ensuring their full and effective participation in regional or subregional workshops on the description of areas meeting the criteria for EBSAs, and to incorporate the use of traditional knowledge in the EBSA training materials;


1.Pursuant to paragraph 36 of decision X/29 and paragraph 12 of decision XI/17, seven additional regional workshops were convened by the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, as follows:
Southern Indian Ocean (Flic en Flac, Mauritius, 31 July to 3 August 2012); 128 Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific (Galapagos, Ecuador, 28 to 31 August 2012); 129 North Pacific (Moscow, Russian Federation, 25 February to 1 March 2013); 130 South-Eastern Atlantic (Swakopmund, Namibia, 8 to 12 April 2013); 131 Arctic (Helsinki, Finland, 3 to 7 March 2014); 132 North-West Atlantic (Montreal, Canada, 24 to 28 March 2014); 133 and Mediterranean (Málaga, Spain, 7 to 11 April 2014). 134
2.Pursuant to paragraph 12 of decision XI/17, summaries of the results of these regional workshops are provided in tables 1 to 7 below, respectively, while full descriptions of how the areas meet the criteria for ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) are provided in the annexes to the respective reports of the workshops (UNEP/CBD/RW/EBSA/SIO/1/4, UNEP/CBD/RW/EBSA/ETTP/1/4, UNEP/CBD/EBSA/NP/1/4, UNEP/CBD/RW/EBSA/SEA/1/4, UNEP/CBD/EBSA/WS/2014/1/5, UNEP/CBD/EBSA/WS/2014/2/4, UNEP/CBD/EBSA/WS/2014/3/4).
3.In paragraph 26 of decision X/29, the Conference of Parties noted that the application of the EBSA criteria is a scientific and technical exercise, that areas found to meet the criteria may require enhanced conservation and management measures, and that this can be achieved through a variety of means, including marine protected areas and impact assessments, and emphasized that the identification of ecologically or biologically significant areas and the selection of conservation and management measures is a matter for States and competent intergovernmental organizations, in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
4.The description of marine areas meeting the criteria for ecologically or biologically significant marine areas does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Nor does it have economic or legal implications; it is strictly a scientific and technical exercise.
Key to the tables


  • H: High
  • M: Medium
  • L: Low
  • -: No information


  • C1: Uniqueness or rarity
  • C2: Special importance for life-history stages of species
  • C3: Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats
  • C4: Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity, or slow recovery
  • C5: Biological productivity
  • C6: Biological diversity
  • C7: Naturalness
Table 1.
Description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria in the Southern Indian Ocean
(Details are provided in the appendix to annex IV of the Report of the Southern Indian Ocean Regional Workshop to Facilitate the Description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), UNEP/CBD/RW/EBSA/SIO/1/4.)
Location and brief description of areas C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

1. Agulhas Bank Nursery Area

  • Location: The area is bounded by latitudes of approximately 34°S to 36°S and longitudes of approximately 20°E and 23°E. The area is entirely within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of South Africa.
  • As a spawning ground and nursery area, it is the centre of abundance of numerous warm temperate species, including several endemic sparids. It is the only warm temperate nursery area for species that spawn on the narrow shelf in the north and is important for retention, recruitment and feeding. Dense benthic copepod communities provide a rich food source. The area includes critically endangered mud habitats and unique high-profile volcanic offshore reefs that support cold-water coral communities. There is a spawning aggregation area for the threatened endemic reef fish Petrus rupestris within this area. This area has been identified as important habitat by two systematic planning initiatives.

2. Agulhas Slope and Seamounts

  • Location: The apex area of the Agulhas Bank at the southern tip of the continental shelf edge off southern Africa bounded by approximately 35°S to 38°S and 21° to 23°E.
  • The outer margin along the southern tip of the Agulhas Bank represents a dynamic offshore area with high productivity and high pelagic and benthic habitat heterogeneity. The Agulhas and Southern Benguela ecoregions meet at this point, and sporadic shelf-edge upwelling enhances the productivity along the outer margin. The area is recognized as a spawning area for sardine, anchovy, horse mackerel and hake. This area of the Agulhas Bank is recognized as a critical spawning area. Eddies in this area help recirculate water inshore and link important nursery areas with spawning habitat on the shelf edge. This area was identified as a priority area through a national spatial plan because of its high habitat diversity.

3. Offshore of Port Elizabeth

  • Location: The coastline to the upper slope off Port Elizabeth within the EEZ of South Africa (approximately 33°S to 35°S and 25°E to 27°E).
  • This area includes some rare habitat types of limited spatial extent and is considered an important benthic and pelagic area that supports important ecological processes. Complex circulation occurs in this area where the Agulhas Current leaves the coast, following the shelf break. Cold-water eddies, intrusions of Agulhas water onto the shelf and large offshore meanders of the Agulhas Current occur at this location. Seabird (including the endangered African penguin) breeding and foraging areas fall within the area, which also includes spawning areas, nursery areas and key transport pathways for demersal and pelagic fish. This area is also used by endangered leatherback turtles. Potential vulnerable habitats and species include submarine canyons, steep shelf edge, deep reefs, outer shelf and shelf edge gravels, and reef-building cold-water corals ranging in depth between 100 and 1000 m.

4. Protea Banks and Sardine Route

  • Location: Latitudes of approximately 30°S to 32°S and longitudes of approximately 30°E to 31°E.
  • This area includes a key component of the migration path for several fish (known as the sardine run) and an offshore area of high habitat complexity. Benthic features include a unique deep-reef system known as the Protea Banks, a steep shelf edge and slope, and four submarine canyons. The sardine run is a temporary feature associated with top foraging predators, including seabirds, mammals, sharks and gamefish. Protea Banks is an aggregating area with spawning of sciaenids and sparids reported. Some of these species are in decline and are considered threatened. This area has a moderate level of productivity, and the sardine run is an important ecological process that facilitates the transfer of nutrients from the more productive Agulhas Bank into the more oligotrophic environment further north.

5. Natal Bight

  • Location: East coast of South Africa, extending from Port Durnford to the Mgeni River offshore to 2000 m, including the Tugela Banks, the Natal Bight nursery area, the shelf edge and upper bathyal zone.
  • The Natal Bight is important for numerous ecological processes, including terrestrial-marine connectivity, larval retention, and recruitment and provides important nursery and foraging areas. The area is home to rare habitat types and supports some species known to exist in few localities. Cool productive water is advected onto the shelf through Agulhas-driven upwelling cells, and continental runoff from the large Thukela River is important for the maintenance of mud and other unconsolidated sediment habitats. The turbid, nutrient-rich conditions are important for the life-history phases of crustaceans, demersal fish, migratory fish, turtles and sharks, some of which are threatened. Potential vulnerable marine ecosystems and species include submarine canyons, cold-water corals and slow- growing sparids.

6. Incomati River to Ponta do Ouro (Southern Mozambique)

  • Location: This area is located in Incomati Bay and covers Maputo Bay from the Incomati River mouth, the Lagoa bight, the regions of Baixo Danae and the whole coastline and high seas of the southern tip from Inhaca Island to Ponta do Ouro (the border between Mozambique and South Africa in KwaZulu Natal).
  • The bay is diverse, harbouring critical habitats (e.g., extensive mangroves and seagrass beds, and the largest, southernmost coral reefs in sub-equatorial Africa, in addition to sandy and rocky beaches, rough and gentle coastlines). It hosts extremely high biodiversity in various taxa, including commercially significant fisheries and shrimp. The bay is also home to several species of special concern, such as dugongs, dolphins, three species of turtles (the leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, the loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, and the green turtle, Chelonia mydas), sharks, whales, seahorses, endangered bivalves, and the vulnerable seagrass, Zostera capensis. Inhaca Island is home to 33% of all bird species occurring in Southern Africa. The area is home to the marine and terrestrial reserves of Inhaca Island and Machangulo peninsula.

7. Delagoa Shelf Edge, Canyons and Slope

  • Location: Approximately 26°S to 29°S and 32°E and 34°. This area extends south, north and offshore of the existing Maputaland and St. Lucia marine protected areas in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
  • The area is home to important offshore habitats of endangered leatherback turtles and includes a key migratory route for humpback whales, a nursery area for bull sharks, spawning areas for fish (endemic sparids) and sharks, and includes habitat of other threatened species including coelacanths, marine mammals and sharks. Potential vulnerable marine ecosystems include numerous submarine canyons, paleo shorelines, deep reefs and hard shelf edge with reef-building cold-water corals also recovered at depths of more than 900 m. This is a seasonal feeding area for whale sharks.

8. Save River to San Sebastian (Central Mozambique)

  • Location: Bazaruto Archipelago is located up to 20 km off the Mozambique coast within latitudes 21o30’-22o 10’S and longitudes 35o22’-35o 30’E. This area also covers the Twelve Mile Reef at approximately 21o 21.300’S; 35o 30.200’E.
  • This area covers mainly the Bazaruto Archipelago site, which is home of the most viable dugong population in East Africa and is already a marine protected area. There are many megafauna, such as dugongs, turtles, dolphins and marlins, as well as seagrass meadows and mangrove forests found in this area.

9. Morrumbene to Zavora Bay (Southern Mozambique)

  • Location: The area covers Inhambane Bay, the peninsula, and Tofo up to Zavora (covering regions of Pomene and Paindane).
  • This area has abundant megafauna, mainly the reef manta (Manta alfredi), giant manta ray (Manta birostris), and whale shark (Rhincodon typus), described as among the largest populations in the world. The area also hosts dugongs, five species of turtles as well as coral reefs (one of which is unique) and mangroves forests with extensive seagrass beds, mainly around Morrumbene and Inhambane Bay. The area has recently become a focus of research, and recent reports of new species of nudibranch around Pomene/Zavora support the value of this emerging hotspot of biodiversity in Mozambique.

10. Quelimane to Zuni River (Zambezi River Delta)

  • Location: The area extends from the river dos Bons Sinais and the Zuni River in the south (mid-way from Chinde, main delta branch to Beira city).
  • The delta gives rise to the Sofala Bank, which extends from Save River to the chain islands of Ilhas Primeiras e Segundas, the largest and among the most productive fisheries area in Mozambique yielding close to 50% of the entire industrial catches of Mozambique (some 50,000 tons in 2002). Sofala Bank is here represented by the Zambezi delta (Quelimane to Zuni River, about 200 km coastline). The productivity of this area for fisheries is directly related to the extensive mangrove forests of the Zambezi River delta, the largest mangrove forest in all of East Africa, covering some 100,000 ha.
H H M L H - M

11. Agulhas Front

  • Location: 20oE to 83o E and 36oS to 44oS. It is located in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction within the Indian Ocean.
  • The site has a uniquely high level of productivity and supports a significant diversity of biota, including charismatic and threatened species such as southern bluefin tuna, southern right whales, pinnipeds and seabirds, including the endemic critically endangered Amsterdam albatross.

12. Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park

  • Location: Between 5° 03’ 37”S 39° 14’ 41”E and 5° 24’ 13”S 39° 08’ 12”E and 5° 21’ 39”S 39° 01’ 55”E and 5° 03’ 21”S 39° 03’ 21”E
  • Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park hosts a population of coelacanths, one of the world’s rarest and most enigmatic deep-water fish, which was previously thought to be extinct. Scientific research and the use of remotely operated videos in the area have shown coelacanths living in caves at depths between 150 and 200 metres.

13. Pemba-Shimoni-Kisite

  • Location: Between the latitudes 04º 50’S and 05º 30’S.
  • The Pemba Channel has a high diversity of fish comprising pelagics, turtles, dolphins, dugongs and whales. The Kisite-Mpunguti area, located in the Shimoni area on the southern coast of Kenya, incorporates the Kisite Marine Park, the largest no-take area in Kenya (28 km²), and the adjacent Mpunguti Marine Reserve, Kenya’s smallest reserve (11 km²). The area supports a high diversity of marine life, including corals, reef fish and sea turtles, and is important for the life history of the coconut crab, a rare and endemic species. Kisite Island is an Important Bird Area (IBA), hosting species such as the sooty tern (Sterna fuscata) and large numbers (up to 1000 breeding pairs recorded) of crested tern (Thalasseus bergii) and roseate terns (Sterna dougallii), and encompasses a wide range of habitats, including mangrove forests, coral reefs, seagrass beds and offshore waters, which are considered important fish nursery grounds. The Pemba-Shimoni-Kisite area thus provides prime habitat for sea mammals and various types of corals and associated fish species.

14. Baixo Pinda – Pebane (Primeiras and Segundas Islands)

  • Location: Latitude 14.2oS to 18oS and from longitude 38oE to 41.5oE.
  • The area is highly productive and hosts pristine coral reefs. It also covers the fishing ground of São Lazaro (located from Angoche south to Nacala/Ilha de Moçambique). Baixo Pinda is a good example of a unique coastal region in Mozambique with complex lagoons and intertidal areas. Unique fisheries and an endemic species of macrolagae, Kapaphycus alvereii, are found in the area. Furthermore, there are several submarine canyons off Nacala and Ilha de Moçambique.

15. Zanzibar (Unguja) – Saadani

  • Location: Between latitude 5.50°S to 6.9° S and longitude 38.7° to 39.8°E.
  • The Zanzibar (Unguja) – Saadan is known to have relatively high concentrations of biologically important species such as sharks, dolphins, dugongs, prawns, and sea turtles. The area provides habitats to many fin fish and shellfish and also is a prominent coastal tourism area due to its attractive diversity of corals, fin fish and shellfish.

16. Rufiji – Mafia- Kilwa

  • Location: Between latitude 7.1o S to 9.0o S and longitude 39.2o E to 40.6o E.
  • The area hosts significant populations of a variety of endangered marine species, such as dugong, sea turtles, coelacanth and other fin fish, shellfish and birds. The largest continuous mangrove areas are to be found on the coasts of Mafia, Kilwa and the delta of the Rufiji River.

17. Watamu Area

  • Location: Between 39.9°E, 3.5°S and 40.2°E, 3.3°S.
  • Habitats in this area include intertidal rock, sand and mud, fringing reefs and coral gardens, coral cliffs, sandy beaches and the Mida Creek mangrove forest. Biodiversity in this area includes fish, turtles, dugongs and crabs. The area is surrounded in part by the Mida Creek forest and has a high diversity of mangrove species, including Ceriops tagal, Rhizophora mucronata, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, Avicennia marina and Sonneratia alba. These provide refuge to a variety of both resident and migrant bird species.

18. Pemba Bay - Mtwara (part of the Mozambique Channel)

  • Location: Pemba Bay in northern Mozambique, 400 km to the Ruvuma estuary and the Mtwara-Mnazi Bay reef system in southern Tanzania.
  • The Quirimbas Archipelago is a string of coastal islands extending from Pemba Bay in northern Mozambique, 400 km to the Ruvuma estuary and the Mtwara-Mnazi Bay reef system in southern Tanzania. The archipelago has the highest diversity of corals recorded in the region (along with northern Mozambique), with almost 300 species in 60 genera. Charismatic species include turtles and dugongs, and many rare and endemic plant species.

19. Mozambique Channel

  • Location: The area runs across the Mozambique Channel from Mtwara in southern Tanzania to the north-eastern corner of Madagascar, southwards to the south-eastern tip of Madagascar and St Lucia Lighthouse in South Africa
  • The eddy and gyre dynamics in the channel are globally unique, contributing to the Agulhas Current, a major western boundary current in the Indian Ocean. The geology and oceanography of the channel profoundly affect the ecosystem dynamics and habitats of the channel. The unique eddy dynamics of the channel and upwelling on the Madagascar Plateau contribute to the highly connected and highly productive shallow benthic and pelagic marine communities, affecting the productivity of coral reefs, planktonic and pelagic communities, and the spatial and temporal activity of faunal groups, including large fish, marine turtles, seabirds and marine mammals.

20. The Iles éparses (part of the Mozambique Channel)

  • Location: The Iles éparses stretch down the length of the Mozambique Channel, between the east coast of Africa and Madagascar. The Glorieuses Islands (11.3°S) are in the northern part of the area, Juan de Nova is in the centre, and Bassas da India and Europa (22.4°S) are in the southern part of the area.
  • These islands are fairly remote and largely still intact, protected since 1972 and offering sites of high conservation value. They are important places for migratory species, such as marine turtles, marine mammals, and seabirds. They are also important breeding and foraging zones. The area is important to a number of species of sea turtles and aggregations of juvenile sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis).

21. Lamu-Kiunga Area

  • Location: This area covers 40.3° E and 3.2° S and 41.9° E and 1.5° S.
  • The mangrove and tidal flat habitats in the area of Lamu on the Indian Ocean coast of north-eastern Kenya, close to the Somali border, are known as some of the most extensive and species-rich along the entire coast of East Africa. They are highly valuable in terms of biodiversity, climate protection (blue carbon), fisheries, nature-based tourism and coastal protection.

22. Walters Shoals

  • Location: Between 33°9-16'S, 43°49-56'E. The base of the area is defined by the 800 m isobath.
  • The Walters Shoals are steep-sided and cone-shaped with flat tops (minimum depth 15 m) covered by coral reefs of broken and jagged relief, especially along the outer edges. Their base is defined by the 800 m isobath. They are the only known habitat of the recently described giant species of spiny lobster, Palinurus barbarae (Decapoda, Palinuridae) and 30 to 40% of the shallow water fish fauna of Walters Shoals is endemic to some part of the West Wind chain of islands and seamounts.

23. Coral Seamount and Fracture Zone Feature

  • Location: Between 41o00’S - 41o40'S and 42o10 – 43o10’E.
  • The area is the only known cold-water coral reef habitat in Sub-Antarctic waters. This is a unique area in the south-west Indian Ocean that includes large areas of steep topography extending from the seamount summit of the Coral Seamount at 300 m to the bottom of an adjacent deep-sea trench/fracture zone feature at 5200 m, lying just 10 km to the west of the seamount. The area is home to cold-water coral reefs and coral gardens, including for Scleractinia and Octocorallia. There are high densities of associated fauna, including sessile (corals, sponges) and mobile (squat lobsters, echinoderms) species. In addition, the pelagic ecosystem associated with the seamount differs from seamounts studied north of the Subantarctic Front. In particular, the Coral Seamount has large concentrations of pelagic grenadiers.
H M - H - H M

24. Northern Mozambique Channel

  • Location: Southern part of Tanzania, from Mtwara southwards; northern Mozambique, the northwest and northeast part of Madagascar, Comoros archipelago, the southern Seychelles, including the Aldabra group, Providence plateau and Farquhar, and the French overseas territories Mayotte and Glorieuse.
  • The Northern Mozambique Channel can be presented as a homogeneous ecological biogeographic sub-unit characterized by a strong dynamic of gyres and eddies contributing to the high connectivity between islands. The current pattern linked to these eddies and gyres dynamics has led to the highest concentration of biodiversity in this area of the region.

25. Moheli Marine Park

  • Location: Between 11° 20' and 13° 04' S and 43° 11 and 45° 19' E.
  • As an IUCN category VI park, this is a sanctuary for many species and ecosystems that are representative at regional and international scales. This is a nesting site for the green turtle, an important breeding area for humpback whales and a refuge for dugongs.

26. Prince Edward Islands, Del Cano Rise and Crozet Islands

  • Location: Bounded by 43°to 48° to the south and 32.73° to 55° to the east.
  • This is a foraging and breeding area for many threatened bird species and is important in terms of terrestrial and oceanic connectivity, including among bathymetric features. There is considerable pelagic and benthic habitat heterogeneity with potentially sensitive habitats and vulnerable species including reef-forming cold-water corals. Habitats in this area include seamounts, transform faults and fracture zones, deep trenches, hydrothermal vents, abyssal plains and several types of pelagic habitats.

27. Southern Madagascar (part of the Mozambique Channel)

  • Location: The area is an extensive underwater plateau or ridge located between 1000 to 2500 m deep extending south from Madagascar for a distance of nearly 1000 km.
  • The highly productive waters of this area are critical feeding grounds for the highly migratory species of the region, including seabirds and cetaceans. The area is characterized by large coastal dunes, lagoons and coastal ponds, forming unique coastal habitats and wetlands. The shallow benthic communities of this area are dominated by hard substrate communities, with small isolated coral reefs at the extremities.

28. Tromelin Island

  • Location: Roughly 580 km northwest of la Réunion (54°31' E, 15°53' S)
  • Due to the limited accessibility of this area, scientific knowledge is low and targeted to very few taxa. Marine turtles have been monitored since the 1980s, and long-term analysis has demonstrated that Tromelin is one of the most important nesting sites for the green turtle in the Western Indian Ocean. Genetic isolation has been found in coral and bird species in this area, also making this island very valuable for conservation. Moreover, the area is home two species of Faviid corals that are rare in the region.

29. Mahe, Alphonse and Amirantes Plateau

  • Location: Between 50º00’E and 58º00’E and between 0º00’S and 10º00’ S.
  • This is an area of high diversity and a breeding, feeding and nursery area for cetaceans, providing migratory paths for these species and important feeding sites for pelagic fish, especially tuna and shark species. Coral reefs and mangroves characterize this area, providing important sites for fish spawning and nurseries, while mangroves help in reducing sedimentation and runoff to coral reefs. The plateau assists in the conservation of seabirds through provision of breeding and feeding sites. Important nesting sites for green and hawksbill turtles are found here.

30. Atlantis Seamount

  • Location: Approximately 32o38'S - 32o48'S and 57o12'E - 57o20'E
  • An active tectonic, seamount/guyot/sunken island, the complex geomorphology this area harbours a very diverse deep-sea fauna at depths from 700 to 4000 m. The seamount hosts diverse coral gardens and complex sea-cliff deep-sea communities characterized by large anemones, sponges, and octocorals. The seamount hosts populations of pelagic armourhead (Pseudopentaceros wheeleri) and alfonsino.

31. Blue Bay Marine Park

  • Location: Blue Bay Marine Park is located in south-eastern Mauritius, stretching from Pointe Corps de Garde in the north to Pointe Vacoas in the south.
  • There are two types of reefs are found in the park: fringing reefs and patch reefs. There is a high degree of coral species diversity, with at least 38 different species recorded, representing 28 genera and 15 families. Commercial species and many reef fish, including those that have schooling behaviour, are present in the park, as are other marine fauna, including seven species of echinoderms, eight species of molluscs, four species of crustaceans, four species of sponges, two species of nudibranchs, four species of holothurians and one species of turtle.
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32. Saya de Malha Bank

  • Location: Between 8°30 - 12° S and 59°30 - 62.30° E.
  • The Saya de Malha Bank is the largest of three shallow banks forming the Mascarene Plateau. The Mascarene Plateau, being remote, with emergent land and small islands only at its southern extreme, is not yet well-known globally or well-studied, but there are strong indications of unique oceanographic features and habitats, in this area including the largest seagrass beds and shallow-water biotope in the world, species endemism and significant aggregations of marine mammals and seabirds.
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33. Sri Lankan Side of Gulf of Mannar

  • Location: This area is situated within the EEZ of Sri Lanka and within the continental shelf. The area is in coastal waters bordering the north-western and northern coastlines. Towards the landside it borders the coastline and extends towards the sea 5 km from the coastline
  • This area has a high level of ecological and biological diversity and is a site for some endangered species of turtles and dugongs. Additionally, the area holds very fragile sensitive coastal ecosystems – coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove-bordered lagoons and estuaries, mud flats, sand dunes and a few river mouth openings. Globally, endangered marine mammals such as Balaenoptera musculas and Dagong dugong have been recorded in this area. This area hosts a substantial diversity of fin fish, sharks, rays, shrimp, spiny lobsters, slipper lobsters, conch shells, sea cucumbers and reef fishes. Important natural pearl beds are also located in this area.

34. Central Indian Ocean Basin

  • Location: The area lies to the south and east of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, over the mid-Indian Ocean basin and parts of the Ninety East Ridge.
  • This area is known to be a key feeding site for at least four species of seabird that nest on islands in the Western Indian Ocean, with birds migrating over 3000 km to feed here during a pronounced seasonal phytoplankton bloom during the austral winter.
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35. Rusky

  • Location: 31o 20’S, 94o 55’E - 31o 20’S, 95o 00’E - 31o 30’S, 95o 00’E - 31o 30’S, 94o 55’E
  • This is a knoll in the middle part of Broken Ridge at 95° E, rising from the base seafloor of the ridge at 1200 m, to a depth of 580 m. This is the only knoll that occurs on the central ridge. Small alfonsino (Beryx splendens) and amourhead (Pseudopentaceros spp) are found on the knoll. Some bottom-trawling has occurred on the knoll, and black coral (Cnidaria) has been identified from catches made. This is the only known area containing black coral on Broken Ridge and has been declared a Benthic Protected Area by SIODFA.
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36. Fool’s Flat

  • Location: 31o 32'S, 94o 40'E - 32o S, 95o 32’E - 31o 50’S, 95o 38’E - 31o 24’S, 94o 51’E
  • This area is located on the southern side of Broken Ridge Plateau. The central area of the ridge shoals to around 990 m, and its southern side drops down steeply to over 4000 m. On the southern rim of the ridge are significant stands of cold-water corals that have elevations of 20 to 30 m and have been surveyed by sidescan sonar. There appears to be strong upwelling over the south-west boundary, and this no doubt has resulted in favourable conditions for the growth of deepwater corals. The main framework building species appears to be Solenosmilia variabilis. The framework largely comprises dead coral.
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37. East Broken Ridge Guyot

  • Location: 32o 50’S, 100o 50’E - 32o 50’S, 101o 40’E - 33o 25’S, 101o 40’E - 33o 25’S,100o 50’E
  • This guyot is a bathymetric high, coupled with an area of localized high gravity, and is located to the eastern end of Broken Ridge. It rises from 3000 to 1060 metres deep. It is separated from Broken Ridge by deep water, and is the southernmost and one of the shallowest of a series of gravimetric highs that runs north around 100 o E to north of 28 o S. The gravimetric highs are over guyots that rise 1500-200 m off the seafloor, but are in very deep water (4000-5000 m). It is characterised by numerous slips and canyons extending down the sides, and appears heavily eroded. As far as is known it has not been previously described and has not been trawled on. It is believed to be biologically pristine, and its benthos and highly fractured topography have not yet been described. There are some indications that this feature may have been above sea level at some time in the past. This guyot is significantly different in structure to the remainder of Broken Ridge. It is long and narrow, with complex geomorphology on the western side and surrounded by deep water.
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38. South of Java Island

  • Location: Latitude 12o to 17o S and longitude 107o to 117o E
  • This area is the only known spawning area of southern bluefin tuna (SBT). The population of SBT comprises a single stock that mingrates widely in the southern hemisphere. The species returns to spawn in the area south of Java. Spawning takes place from September to April, and juvenile SBT migrate down the west coast of Australia and disperse throughout the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
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39. Due South of Great Australian Bight

  • Location: The central coast of South Australia
  • This is a globally significant feeding area for several threatened species of seabird and fish. The area is important for specific life-history stages for the sooty albatross (Phoebetria fusca) from Amsterdam Island during the non-breeding season and wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) from Crozet Island during its juvenile stage. It is also used by migrating critically endangered southern bluefin tuna.
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Table 2.
Description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria in the Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific 135
(Details are provided in the appendix to annex IV of the Report of the Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific Regional Workshop to Facilitate the Description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), UNEP/CBD/RW/EBSA/ETTP/1/4.)
Location and brief description of areas C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

1. área de Agregación Oceánica del Tiburón Blanco del Pacifico Nororiental (North-East Pacific White Shark Offshore Aggregation Area)

  • Location: Approximately 250-km radius centred around 23.37°N, 132.71°W
  • This is an area of seasonal aggregation for adult great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in oceanic waters of the North-East Pacific at the north-western corner of the geographic boundary defined for this workshop. The sharks come from two coastal wintering areas (Central California, USA, and Guadalupe Island, Mexico) as well as from Hawaii. Shark aggregation in a persistent and predictable area for several months of the year is important for this population even though it occurs in a region where dynamic oceanographic processes are not known to occur and where surface primary productivity is low.
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2. Clipperton Atoll

  • Location: Clipperton Island (10° 17’ N, 109° 12’ W) is located between the tip of Baja California and the Equator. The limits of the area are based on the area of foraging of the boobie Sula dactylatra, which is within 200 km of the island.
  • This is the only atoll in the Tropical Eastern Pacific, and for this reason, it represents a particular and unique ecosystem in the region. Located more than 1000 km off the Mexican coast, it constitutes both an outpost for the migratory flux coming from the west and a kind of isolate for many marine species with low larval dispersion range. Endemism is present in several major taxa, like fish (5%), or crustaceans (6%). The atoll seems to be used as a reproduction ground by sharks, at least for the white tip shark (Carcharhinus albimarginatus), a species classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN. The masked booby (Sula dactylatra) occurs in globally significant numbers in this area, and the site qualifies as an Important Bird Area (IBA) under BirdLife criteria. Around 110,000 individuals are estimated to be present here, with 20,000 pairs breeding, making it the largest colony in the world of this species. The limit of the area is defined by the foraging range of this species.

3. Santuario Ventilas Hidrotermales de la Cuenca De Guaymas (Guaymas Basin Hydrothermal Vents Sanctuary)

  • Location: The coordinates of this area are latitude N max 27°05’49.54” - latitude N min 26°57’20.43”; longitude W max 111°27’53.01” - longitude W min 111°19’24.88”; at depths below 500 metres in the water column and on the seafloor.
  • Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California is a hydrothermally impacted, semi-enclosed basin where oxidation and precipitation of oxides are particularly intense. It is an unusual hydrothermal system due to its close proximity to the coast, where high sedimentation rates maintain a thick blanket of organic compound-rich sediment over the ridge axis. It has a unique benthic species composition. Hydrothermal sediments of the Guaymas Basin contain highly diverse anaerobic thermophilic microorganisms, including methanogens, sulfate-reducing bacteria, and presumably also methanotrophs

4. Ecosistema Marino Sipacate-Cañón, San José (Sipacate-Cañón Marine Ecosystem of San José)

  • Location: The Sipacate-Cañón marine coastal area of San José is located in the eastern Pacific Ocean, in the territorial waters of Guatemala.
  • The Sipacate-Cañón has been identified as a priority area for inclusion in Guatemala’s National System of Protected Areas. It contains a marine coastal area that is influenced by major mangrove forests and estuarine lagoons, and is key to the life cycles of commercially important fish species and to the life cycles of marine species such as turtles, seabirds and cetaceans.

5. Golfo de Fonseca (Gulf of Fonseca)

  • Location: The Gulf of Fonseca extends across approximately 2015 km2 of water associated with the Pacific Ocean in Central America. It borders three countries: El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
  • The gulf comprises various ecosystems, primarily mangroves of the Gulf of Fonseca, dry tropical forest, intertidal flats, and intertidal and subtidal rocky zones. Several confluent rivers bring nutrients, contaminants and sediment to this body of water. The gulf also contains various islands, some of which are significantly above sea level (>500 m). The area is important to traditional fishing and shell-fishing. Salt production and shrimp farming also take place in the area.
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6. Dorsal Submarina de Malpelo (Malpelo Ridge)

  • Location: 1º 29’24''N - 5º 0’02''N and 79º 40’26''W and 82º 44’56''W. The Malpelo Ridge is entirely within national jurisdiction in the central zone of the Colombian Pacific Ocean basin.
  • It extends from north-east to south-west over a distance of 240 km and is 80 km wide. It rises sharply from a depth of approximately 4000 m on the eastern side. This area is a habitat for endemic species and has a high level of biodiversity. Various species of marine mammals and sharks live out part of their respective life cycles in this area. The area has a heightened vulnerability due to the over-exploitation of fishery resources in the area and the effects of the El Niño Southern Oscillation.

7. Upwelling System of Papagayo and adjacent areas

  • Location: The size and location of this area varies throughout the year but the mean position is near 9°N 90°W, between the westward North Equatorial Current and the Eastward North Equatorial Countercurrent.
  • This is an area of high primary productivity in the north-eastern tropical Pacific, which supports marine predators such as tuna, dolphins and cetaceans. The endangered leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), which nests on the beaches of Costa Rica, migrates through the area. The area provides year-round habitat that is important for the survival and recovery of the endangered blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). The area is of special importance to the life history of a population of the blue whales that migrate south from Baja California during the winter for breeding, calving and feeding.
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8. Corredor Marino del Pacifico Oriental Tropical (Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor)

  • Location: Central eastern tropical Pacific.
  • The importance of the biological diversity of this area has been recognized by the four countries to which it belongs (Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and Panama), through their declaration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in these areas. The geomorphological structures of the area are biologically and ecologically significant and are important for the connectivity of species on their migratory routes and at other times of their life cycles (e.g., mating, birth, feeding). The area plays an important role for populations of hammerhead sharks, humpback whales, leatherback and Ridley turtles, and birds, such as cormorants, boobies and pelicans.

9. Zona Ecuatorial de Alta Productividad (Equatorial High-Productivity Zone)

  • Location: This open-ocean system is located from latitudes of approximately 5° N to 5° S of the equator, and longitudes of approximately 165° E to the Galápagos Islands.
  • The Pacific Ocean equatorial high productivity zone is a large-scale oceanographic feature associated with the Equatorial Current System. It comprises almost the entire width of the Pacific Basin, but is limited to a narrow band spanning the equator. The thermocline in this region shoals from west to east due to wind forcing, bringing waters with a high nutrient content near the surface and leading to elevated primary productivity relative to the adjacent waters to the north and south. There is strong benthic-pelagic coupling, with benthic secondary production in the abyssal plains being strongly related to the surface primary productivity. Historically, high sperm whale abundance was recorded in this area. This feature is highly influenced by El Nino events. As well, climate change could reduce the strength of the upwelling and nutrient cycling in the area that supports its high levels of primary productivity.
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10. Archipiélago de Galápagos y Prolongación Occidental (Galápagos Archipelago and its Western Extension)

  • Location: The area covers an area of 585 914 km2 within the following coordinates: 95.2477°W; 3.6744° N; 87.2051°W; 3.4350°S.
  • The Galápagos Islands host a great diversity of endemic species that are protected by the Galápagos Marine Reserve (GMR). The Galápagos ecosystem has a vast biodiversity of species distributed throughout various marine habitats, which reflect not only the archipelago’s geology and varied oceanography, but also its intra-annual and inter-annual variability. Various studies of species associated with the archipelago (e.g., sharks, whales, marlins, albatrosses) have shown the constant migration patterns of many species in the area. During these migrations, individuals are vulnerable to both interaction with industrial fisheries and collision with large vessels in transit. There is a constant occurrence of species in the region (3464 marine invertebrates, 684 fish; the list continues to grow), which demonstrates the importance of this marine area in terms of its levels of diversity and endemism. The high degree of biodiversity in the region is associated with its elevated primary productivity, which is not only a feature within the GMR (because of the “island effect”), but also a prevailing characteristic of habitats such as seamounts, the platform slope, abyssal plains and hydrothermal benthic systems.

11. Cordillera de Carnegie – Frente Ecuatorial (Carnegie Ridge – Equatorial Front)

  • Location: The Carnegie Ridge begins at the west coast of Ecuador and Peru and extends to 1°S, to 6°S, and to 88°W.
  • This area includes Ecuadorian territorial waters (continental and insular), international waters and Peruvian territorial waters; it also includes various structures of great importance. The equatorial front, which is a transition zone between the water masses transported by the El Niño and Humboldt currents, is characterized by an intense thermohaline gradient, which reaches its peak during the dry season (24°C–33.5 ppt at 1° S; and 18°C–35 ppt between 2 and 3° S). The southern band of the equatorial front has traditionally seen high biological productivity. The Carnegie Ridge is an aseismic ridge of volcanic origin in the Pacific Ocean located between the coasts of Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. The southern limit of the eastern tropical Pacific is an area of vast biodiversity, which contains over 70% of the species of the Peruvian littoral zone. It contains numerous endemic species and the largest population of various species of the eastern tropical Pacific biogeographic province. It is the southern limit of mangrove distribution and has biological communities of unique structure. It is a breeding ground for large cetaceans and is the southern limit of the breeding range of sea turtles. The area contains many threatened or overexploited species. The area has a high level of productivity because it receives nutrients from the Humboldt ecosystem zone.

12. Golfo de Guayaquil (Gulf of Guayaquil)

  • Location: The mouth of the gulf extends 200 km from north to south along the 81ºW meridian, from Puntilla de Santa Elena (2°12’S) in Ecuador to near Mancora (4°07’S) in Peru. The gulf extends landward approximately 120 km.
  • The Gulf of Guayaquil is the largest estuary along the South American coast of the eastern Pacific. The gulf extends landward approximately 120 km. The Gulf of Guayaquil is naturally divided into an outer estuary, which originates on the western side of Puná Island (80º 15´W), and an inner estuary, which extends northeastward from the western end of Puná Island, including the Estero Salado and Guayas River systems. Its high degree of biological productivity, its status as a habitat for a diverse and rich biota, which supports the country’s most important fisheries, the presence of mangroves on all the edges of the estuaries, the vast amounts of organic material deposited in it by inflowing rivers, the influence of various water masses, the predominant estuarine conditions combining marine and fluvial characteristics, the large area and shallowness of the inner platform, and many other factors distinguish the gulf from other comparable environments in the area. The oceanographic conditions of the Gulf of Guayaquil, which are related to the development of the equatorial front, coastal upwelling and the interaction of various types of water masses (such as saltwater and fresh water from the inner estuary of the gulf) are factors that significantly contribute to the diversity of phytoplankton in the gulf.

13. Sistema de Surgencia de la Corriente Humboldt en Perú (Humboldt Current Upwelling System in Peru)

  • Location: This region is located in the coastal zone of the Humboldt Current ecosystem, facing the central coast of Peru, between latitude 5 and 18°S. The western limit extends from the coastline to the outer limit of the continental slope, which reaches an isobath of approximately 5000 m.
  • The Humboldt Current ecosystem off the coast of Peru is one of the world’s most productive marine areas. It is linked to an active system of coastal marine upwelling, which is unique because of its high degree of endemism. These zones typically host large populations of small pelagic fish (anchovies and sardines), which, in turn, feed large populations of predators and sustain fishing activities. There are seven foci of intense upwelling that are crucial to the re-establishment of the system after high climatic variability events. In addition, the area has a degree of biodiversity of worldwide significance and has been named one of the 200 world ecoregions identified as global priorities for conservation.

14. Centros de Surgencia Mayor y Aves Marinas Asociadas a la Corriente de Humboldt en Perú (Permanent Upwelling Cores and Important Seabird Areas of the Humboldt Current in Peru)

  • Location: Six foci have been identified in centres of biological activity where the friction of intense winds against the morphology of coastal ledges produces the most important upwelling centres associated with the Humboldt Current. These centres are: 1) Punta Aguja (5°47´S); 2) Chimbote (9°5S); 3) Callao (12°59´S); 4) Paracas (13°45´S); 5) Punta San Juan (15°22´S); and 6) Punta Atico (16°14S).
  • The upwelling in the Peruvian ecosystem is mainly induced by the wind parallel to the coast and is highly affected by other factors, such as thermocline depth, coastal morphology, and the topography of the ocean floor. On the Peruvian coast, this has produced a series of upwelling centres that are of major importance to the aggregation of marine predators, as is the case for the densest aggregations of seabirds in the world: those of guano-producing birds. These centres are crucial to the re-establishment of the Humboldt system after warming events, and during such events, they serve as refuges as a result of the persistence of the upwelling events.

15. Sistema de Surgencia de la Corriente de Humboldt en el Norte de Chile (Northern Chile Humboldt Current Upwelling System)

  • Location: The area is located between 21°S and 24°S at the northern upwelling region of Chile, with an offshore extension up to 200 km from the coastline
  • This coastal upwelling region includes the El Loa river area, the coastal upwelling Center of Mejillones Peninsula and surrounding areas. Both the El Loa river zone and Mejillones Peninsula are well known sites of strong biological activity driven by upwelling and within which both pelagic and benthic communities become concentrated, giving rise to important spawning and nursery areas for fishes, crustacean and mollusk species. The continuous upwelling provides nutrients and hence the flourishing of a large variety of phytoplankton with extremely short life cycles, which provide the opportunity for the evolution of a higher diversity of subsequent trophic levels.
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16. Sistema de Surgencia de la Corriente de Humboldt en Chile Central (Central Chile Humboldt Current Upwelling System)

  • Location: An area between 29 and 31ºS and extending 200 km to the west.
  • This area includes an important wind-driven upwelling centre located in its southern boundary, four bays of different sizes and orientations with respect to the coastline that constitute a larger bay, several islands of different sizes and a couple of seamounts, and a topography and current-driven upwelling centre in its northern boundary. The system is highly productive because the upwelling occurs all year round; the bays in the area provide areas of recruitment for several species. There are habitats for several resident populations of endangered birds and marine mammals in the area.
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17. Sistema de Surgencia de la Corriente de Humboldt en el Sur de Chile (Southern Chile Humboldt Current Upwelling System)

  • Location: The area is located between 35°S and 38°S near central southern Chile, with an offshore extension up to 200 km from the coastline.
  • This area exhibits extremely high primary productivity and is characterized by strong seasonal upwelling, with intensive events taking place during the austral spring and summer period, along a relatively wide continental shelf (>50 km) interrupted by submarine canyons. Over the continental shelf, extended periods of hypoxia affect the benthic environment, promoting the development of a large amount of biomass, in the form of mats of the giant bacterium Thioploca. The high productivity of this ecosystem exhibits a strong inter-annual variability related to the ENSO cycle, causing uncertainty in the sustainability of the resources derived from this ecosystem and in the potential ecosystem responses to ongoing climate change.
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18. Dorsal de Nazca y de Salas y Gómez (Salas y Gómez and Nazca Ridges)

  • Location: Salas y Gomez ridge is located between 23°42’ S and 29°12’ S, and between 111°30’ W and 86°30’ W. Nazca ridge is located between 15°00’ S and 26°09’ S, and between 86°30’ W and 76°06’ W.
  • The area is a biological hotspot, with one of the highest levels of marine biological endemism (41.2% in fishes and 46.3% in invertebrates) in the world. It is considered a stepping stone for some marine mammals (e.g., blue whale), and it has been identified as a foraging area for leatherback turtle. In addition, it has been described as a recruitment and nursery area for swordfish and a breeding zone for Chilean jack mackerel, an overexploited species.

19. Montes Submarinos en el Cordón de Juan Fernández (Juan Fernández Ridge Seamounts)

  • Location: The area corresponds to the continental and insular EEZs of Chile in which there are seamounts. The area is divided into seven zones: North, Centre, South, Far South, San Félix, Juan Fernández, and Easter Island.
  • 118 seamounts have been identified and described in Chile’s various EEZs. Moreover, in Juan Fernández seamounts 1 and 2 (JF1, JF2), oceanographic and biological data (on phytoplankton, zooplankton, invertebrates, and exploratory fishing using various techniques) have been collected. Historical information indicates that in JF1 and JF2, a total of 82 species have been captured; notably, black coral has been caught in lobster traps. Underwater photographs of seamounts JF1 and JF2 show characteristics attributable to the impact of bottom trawling and dredging. Fishing efforts have taken place mostly in JF2. Fishing effort increased considerably in 2002, 2003, and 2005, changing the spatial structure of the aggregations of resources in seamount JF2.

20. Convergencia de la Deriva del Oeste (West Wind Drift Convergence)

  • Location: Between 41.5( S and 47(S off the coast of Chile (including fjords and channels and the offshore area until 100 nm from the straight baselines). It covers pelagic through hadal depth zones.
  • The area proposed comprises an intricate array of inner seas, archipelagos, channels, and fjords stretching some 600 linear km and enclosing roughly 10,700 km of convoluted and protected shoreline. This region has been classified as one of ‘main concerns’ within the process of setting geographic priorities for marine conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean. The area partly belongs to the Cold-temperate South America Province, also known as Chiloense Ecoregion.

21. área de Alimentación del Petrel Gris en la Sur del Dorsal del Pacífico Este (Grey Petrel Feeding Area in the South-East Pacific Rise)

  • Location: The area is bounded approximately as follows: NW -120, -47; NE -112, -49; SE -112, -57, SW -120, -57. The area is located near the southern end of the East Pacific Rise and the western part of the South Pacific Basin. The nearest land lies 2000 km south to Antarctica, 2500 km north to Easter Island, 4000 km east to South America, and 7000 km west to New Zealand islands.
  • This site is the key feeding area for the Antipodes Island, New Zealand population of the Near Threatened grey petrel (Procellaria cinerea) during their non-breeding season. Birds migrate from their breeding colonies to feed in this area between October and February. The site is located near the southern end of the East Pacific Rise, and the western part of the South Pacific Basin. BirdLife International recognizes this site as an Important Bird Area (IBA). A habitat use analysis of non-breeding grey petrel tracking data, using boosted regression trees, determined that bathymetry, mixed layer depth, mean temperature between the surface and 50 m, chlorophyll a concentration, and current velocity influenced the distribution of the birds.
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Table 3.
Description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria in the North Pacific
(Details are provided in the appendix to annex V of the Report of the North Pacific Regional Workshop to Facilitate the Description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), UNEP/CBD/EBSA/NP/1/4.)
Location and brief description of areas C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

1. Peter the Great Bay

  • Location: The area is located at the southern-most limit of Russian territorial waters. Peter the Great Bay includes three smaller bays: Amur, Ussuri and Posieta
  • The area is characterized by high biodiversity due to a mix of northern and subtropical fauna. Common benthic fauna in this area includes various types of oysters and scallops. The area contains vast growths of Laminaria kelp, eelgrass (zostera), ahnfeltia and gracilaria. Commercial fish stocks include Alaska pollock, groupers and sardines. Commercial stocks of benthic invertebrates, such as Kamchatka craboid, snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio), Spisula and Mactra are also represented, as are grey and black sea urchins and Red Listed gastropods. Sharks are regularly observed in this area, which serves as a feeding area. The marine area and islands are inhabited by more than 350 species of birds, 200 of which have links to the sea. The area is one of the main stop-over areas on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

2. West Kamchatka Shelf

  • Location: This area is located in the eastern part of the Sea of Okhotsk along the western coastline of the Kamchatka peninsula (Russian Federation) in the North Pacific: from 57°15' N along the parallel to the 200-metre isobath, then to the south along the 200-metre isobath to 50°51' N 156°39' E, then straight to the east to Cape Lopatka.
  • This is a key area for feeding and pre-spawning migrations for various species of Pacific salmon. The West Kamchatka shelf is an important reproduction area for crabs, Alaska pollock, herring, cod and halibut, among others. This region plays a unique role in supporting the productivity and biodiversity of the entire Sea of Okhotsk. This area includes the largest natural spawning ground for sockeye salmon (O. nerka) in the world.

3. Southeast Kamchatka Coastal Waters

  • Location: The boundary of this area begins at Cape Lopatka (the southern point of the Kamchatka peninsula, 50° 90' N, 156° 70 E), then to the north along the edge of the territorial sea of the Russian Federation, until Cape Kozlova (54° 65' N, 161° 89' E).
  • The southeast Kamchatka coastal waters are critical for several species of marine megafauna. The Russian Far East generally has a relatively straight shoreline. It supports a high level of biodiversity in a small area and attracts marine megafauna (cetaceans, pinnipeds) as well. Migration routes of different vertebrates (marine birds, cetaceans, pinnipeds, salmons) are located along the shore in this area.
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4. Eastern Shelf of Sakhalin Island

  • Location: The area is situated along the eastern coast of Sakhalin island, Russian Federation, from the southern point of Sakhalin Island to the north along the 200 m isobath and then east to the mouth of the Amur River.
  • Thick benthic aggregations make this area an important feeding ground for grey whales. The smallest population of whales in the world depends on its welfare (Okhotsk-Korean population of the grey whale). The bottom community is characterized by a high density of shellfish and sea urchins. The area at the northern part of Sakhalin is a feeding ground for beluga whales due to congregations of salmon passing to spawning grounds in the Amur River. Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), a commercially important fishery, is found in the area. Red-listed kaluga (Huso dauricus), aggregations of Dromia personata, and red-listed Sakhalin taymen (Hucho perryi) are regularly seen in the area.

5. Moneron Island Shelf

  • Location: Moneron Island (46°14'00? N, 141°13'00? E) is located in the Strait of Tatary, 45 km south-west of Sakhalin Island, Russian Federation. The boundary of its shelf lies along the 150 m isobath.
  • This is a biodiversity hotspot, with a high diversity of benthic communities and an intact marine ecosystem, including aggregations of sponge, bryozoans and red hydrocorals. It is located at the northern boundary of the abalone (Haliotis) range, which has a high degree of inter-annual variability caused by natural factors. The only rookery of Steller’s sea lion in the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk is found in this area as well as the highest density of zooplankton in the Sea of Okhotsk.
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6. Shantary Islands Shelf, Amur and Tugur Bays

  • Location: The area is located in the southeastern part of the Sea of Okhotsk and encompasses the Shantary archipelago. The boundary of this area is 30 nautical miles (nm) around the Shantary Islands, Russian Federation.
  • The flora and fauna of this area, as well as its abiotic landscape components, have many unique features. Large rookeries of pinnipeds are located on the islands, and the number of whales is steadily increasing within adjacent waters. Bird diversity is very high, as more than 240 species (including IUCN Red-listed species) use the area for both nesting and migration. The biomass of Tugur Bay is about 100,000 tonnes, comprising sponges, actinias, ascidians, sea barnacles and bivalves.

7. Commander Islands Shelf and Slope

  • Location: The Commander Islands are located on the geographical boundary of the western Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean and include two large islands (Bering and Mednyi), two smaller islands (Toporkov and Ariy Kamen) and several rocks that are a continuation of the Aleutian Islands. The area covers the insular shelf and slope, down to a depth of 4000 m, with the respective water column, and is entirely within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.
  • This area shows remarkable uniqueness and a high level of not yet fully documented marine biodiversity. It plays an extremely important role in maintaining populations of a number of key marine species, and is crucial with regard to protection of endangered and threatened species. It maintains a high level of naturalness, particularly in offshore areas. It is very sensitive but has a long history of protection. However, further documenting of marine biodiversity and monitoring of all important levels of the marine ecosystem are critical for managing this area and supporting conservation efforts in the entire North Pacific.

8. East and South Chukotka Coast

  • Location: The area extends from Krest Bay (Zaliv Kresta), the northwestern part of the Bay of Anadyr, along the complex coastline of the Chukotka Peninsula to Dezhnev Cape. The offshore boundary coincides with the border of the Russian Federation’s EEZ in the Bering Sea and its maritime border in the Bering Strait and is thus entirely within Russia’s jurisdiction.
  • The uniqueness of the coastal waters of the western Bering Strait and the southern Chukotka Peninsula is associated with the largest and best-known polynya system in the North Pacific and the Chuckchi Sea. This is a wintering ground for bowhead whales, beluga whales, Pacific walruses and numerous seabirds. In spring, polynyas are used as migration routes. In summer, the southern and south-western coast of the Chukotka Peninsula harbours the largest breeding colonies of seabirds in Chukotka. Due to its complex coastline and diverse sea ice regime, this area has a high diversity of littoral and sublittoral habitats and a relatively high diversity of marine species for an Arctic area.

9. Yamskie Islands and Western Shelikhov Bay

  • Location: The area, which is located in the EEZ of the Russian Federation, starts east of the latitude of Zavialov Island in the north-western Sea of Okhotsk at the 200 m isobath and follows the isobaths surrounding Piagin and Koni peninsulas and Yamskie Islands up to the point of Gizhiga Peninsula, including the western part of Shelikhov Bay.
  • Shelikhov Bay is characterized by upwelling, strong tidal currents and particular ice conditions. High productivity attracts many species to the area, including endangered species. The Yamskie Islands shelf serves as important area for cetaceans, while the islands are occupied by seabirds.

10. Alijos Islands

  • Location: The Alijos Islands (Mexico) are located in the eastern Pacific Ocean at 24° 57.5’ latitude N, and 115° 45.0’ longitude W, 300 km west of the Baja California Peninsula.
  • The Alijos Islands are a group of small volcanic islands in columnar form rising from depths between 2400 and 4500 m. Alijos Islands belong to the Pacific coastal biome and are located in the southern section of the California Current Province (CALC), north-west of the convergence front, which lies south-west of the tip of Baja California. Upwelling makes this a highly productive area that supports high densities of fish and other vertebrates. The Alijos Islands are characterized by large aggregations of birds. The rocky outcrops are major nesting sites for seabirds. The islands are considered among Mexico’s Marine Priority Areas. Due to its remoteness and the small area exposed, its naturalness has been preserved, although current knowledge and available biological, environmental and oceanographic data are limited.
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11. Coronado Islands

  • Location: The Coronado islands are located on the continental margin, 13.6 km off the north-west coast of Baja California, within Mexico’s EEZ. An archipelago, they comprise four small islands:
  • Coronado Norte (32°28’N, 117°18’O), with a surface area of 48 ha;
    Pilón de Azúcar (32° 25’N, 117°16’O) covering 7 ha;
    Coronado Centro (32°25’N, 117°16’O) covering 14 ha;
    Coronado Sur (32°25’N, 117°15’O) covering 183 ha.
  • The four islands of this complex support an abundant bird population. A narrow continental shelf surrounds the islands. The coastal zone of the islands comprises beaches, cliffs, dunes, coastal lagoons and bays, which lead to deep-sea habitats. This diversity in habitats explains the islands’ high biological diversity. Upwelling in this area elevates primary productivity seasonally and supports a high biomass of invertebrates, and large aggregations of fish, marine birds and mammals.

12. Guadalupe Island

  • Location: Guadalupe Island is an oceanic island of volcanic origin in the Mexican EEZ, 241 km to the west of the Baja California Peninsula. It is located at 29°2’N and 118°16.6’W.
  • Guadalupe Island occurs on the Pacific tectonic plate and is home to two shield volcanoes. The oceanic system is highly productive due to upwelling and supports large populations of endemic marine birds, invertebrates, fish and marine mammals. This area is of high importance for the life stages of certain species of birds and marine mammals. An important aspect of this area is its connectivity to other populations along the California current system. It hosts many endemic terrestrial and marine species that are at risk due to the introduction of carnivores and pests, and the use of the island’s resources for development.

13. Upper Gulf of California Region

  • Location: The area is located within Mexico’s national jurisdiction.
  • The Colorado River Delta and the upper portion of the Gulf of California have biophysical features, endemic biota and oceanographic characteristics that are unique to this region. Among them are strong tidal mixing due to tidal movements and the influx of fresh water in the delta area, which depends on the release of water from the Colorado River. Extensive sediment beds deposited here over a long period concentrate nutrients, which make this area extremely productive. The area is also home to endangered endemic species, including the Gulf of California porpoise and the totoaba. The area is also important for fin whales, common dolphins, sea lions and a multitude of seabird species. The commercial fisheries in the area, both industrial and small-scale, make the area vulnerable to human impacts.

14. Midriff Islands Region

  • Location: The Midriff Islands region is located within Mexico’s national jurisdiction.
  • The central portion of the Gulf of California is characterized by the presence of two large islands and several small ones, divided by narrow, deep channels that create wind-driven upwelling fronts and eddies and further increase primary productivity in this already biodiversity-rich marine area. The biota of the midriff islands region is rich and diverse. Marine mammal diversity includes almost all large baleen whales, sperm whales, large schools of dolphins and numerous sea lion rookeries. Along the shorelines of the rugged, mountainous and arid islands are several seabird colonies, where important populations nest. Tiny Rasa Island stands out because it is here that a large percentage of the global population of elegant and royal terns and Herman’s gulls nest.

15. Coastal Waters Off Baja California

  • Location: The area extends from the north at Guerrero Negro lagoon and Cedros and San Benitos Islands and Natividad Island, and incorporates San Ignacio lagoon and Magdalena Bay and the areas offshore directly west and north of this productive bay. This area is within Mexico’s national jurisdiction.
  • This large coastal area includes large coastal lagoons that serve as nursing and breeding grounds for endangered grey whale populations, and islands and offshore areas that are important feeding grounds for pelagic fauna. The area’s lagoons are important for whales as well as shorebirds, sea turtles, invertebrates and fish. Islands in the area provide nesting sites for the endangered sooty shearwater, and its offshore areas are critical feeding sites for loggerhead sea turtles, sharks and tuna. These breeding and feeding grounds provide connectivity for populations that migrate along the Pacific coast of North America in the case of grey whales, and across the Pacific to Japan in the case of loggerhead turtles.

16. Juan de Fuca Ridge Hydrothermal Vents

  • Location: The area is composed of a complex of vents located on three short spreading areas, specifically the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Gorda Ridge and Explorer Ridge off the coasts of British Columbia, Canada, and the states of Washington, Oregon and California, USA. Only vents that fall outside the EEZs of Canada and the USA have been evaluated with respect to the EBSA criteria.
  • The sea floor, physical structures associated with the vents, surrounding water column (which is influenced by chemical and thermal properties of the vent fluids and gases), and biological communities associated with the vents collectively meet the criteria. The formation of hydrothermal vents is driven by dynamic tectonic activity. The microbrial communities associated with vents in the northeast Pacific Ocean are diverse, rare and unique in terms of physiologies, metabolism, thermal tolerance and halotolerance.
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17. North-east Pacific Ocean Seamounts

  • Location: A series of seamount complexes, including the Cobb-Eickleberg seamount chain, are located in the north-east Pacific Ocean and range along the Cascadia subduction zone from the Aleutian Islands in the north to Axial Seamount in the south.
  • The North-east Pacific Ocean Seamounts are a series of seamount complexes that range from the Gulf of Alaska to the coasts of British Columbia, Canada, and Washington and Oregon, USA. Eight seamount complexes were evaluated against the EBSA criteria on the basis of survey data, knowledge of the seamount morphologies (including depth, height, proximity to neighbouring seamounts), models that predict occurrences of octocorals and deepwater corals, and inferences about the distribution and abundance of corals based on similar seamounts within national jurisdictions. The chain of seamount complexes was evaluated as one area because of their similar geological origins, and their configuration may facilitate gene flow and migration of benthic and pelagic species from southern to northern latitudes.

18. Emperor Seamount Chain and Northern Hawaiian Ridge

  • Location: Emperor Seamount Chain and Northern Hawaiian Ridge stretch for ca. 3000 km from the Aleutian Trench to the northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the western North Pacific Ocean (53-30°N, 164-177°E).
  • The Emperor Seamount Chain and Northern Hawaiian Ridge stretch from the Aleutian Trench to the northwestern Hawaiian Islands across the North Pacific Basin. The area is home to commercially important fisheries, as well as a number of species of corals.

19. North Pacific Transition Zone

  • Location: The latitudinal extent of this area changes seasonally between 28° to 34°N and 40° to 43°N, being further south during northern winters. The feature is bounded to the south by the Subtropical Frontal Zone and to the north by the Subarctic Frontal Zone.
  • The North Pacific Transition Zone (NPTZ) is an oceanographic feature of special importance to the biology of many species in the North Pacific. A latitudinal gradient of physical features, including eddies and frontal zones, creates a highly productive habitat that aggregates prey resources, thereby attracting many species of pelagic predators—including endangered and commercially valuable species. The feature also serves as a migratory corridor for species such as bluefin tuna and juvenile loggerhead sea turtles.

20. Focal Foraging Areas For Hawaiian Albatrosses During Egg-Laying And Incubation

  • Location: 35-45° N, and 175-155° W.
  • Northwest Hawaiian Island breeding colonies of black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes, Vulnerable, IUCN Red List) and Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis, Near Threatened, IUCN Red List) in the area account for 90% of the global population of each species. Although widely distributed during much of the annual cycle, during egg-laying and incubation (November-February), adults concentrate their foraging effort in an area of frontal habitats close to the breeding colony. Black-footed albatrosses are concentrated within a more restricted band south of the subarctic front, while Laysan albatross capitalize on the colder waters within the subarctic front to the north.
Table 4.
Description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria in the South-Eastern Atlantic
(Details are provided in the appendix to annex IV of the Report of the South-Eastern Atlantic Regional Workshop to Facilitate the Description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), UNEP/CBD/RW/EBSA/SEA/1/4.)
Location and brief description of areas C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

1. Coastal habitats of the neritic zone of Mauritania and the far north of Senegal

  • Location: 17.238 W and 16.024 W; 20.773 N and 15.802 N.
  • This area contains specific habitats such as clam and maerl beds in the north, the rocky zones south of Cap Timiris, the habitat of overexploited demersal species such as grouper (genus Epinephelus) and the mullet spawning area located between southern Nouakchott and Chatt Boul. The environmental conditions in this area vary considerably in terms of temperature, salinity, suspended matter, nutrients and turbulence, which influence the high biological diversity in this area. The area is characterized by high productivity (especially in the euphotic zone). It serves as a nursery and habitat for the fishery resources that support the country’s economy and for emblematic species of great ecological value, such as monk seals, humpback dolphins and sea turtles. The area is of considerable economic and social importance for Mauritania, being an important site for small-scale fishing. Moreover, the area is under strong anthropogenic pressure (as it contains urban centres and is used for many purposes).
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2. Cold-water coral reefs off Nouakchott

  • Location: These cold-water coral reefs are located on the continental slope (on the rise of the slope, approximately 400 km long). They include the Banda and Timiris mounds.
  • Cold-water coral reefs were discovered in Mauritania at the foot of the continental slope at a depth of 600 metres. These structures occur along 400 km of the slope. These coral reefs form veritable seamounts that rise up to 100 m above the seabed: the “Timiris Mounds” off Cap Timiris and the “Banda Mounds” off Nouakchott.
The corals are “ecosystem engineers” and are home to a wealth of biodiversity. However, the role of living corals and fossil reefs in Mauritania has received little study. Although the living corals were sampled in 2010, the quantity and location of living coral communities on the reef have not yet been determined. The role of these rigid structures in water and resource dynamics is unknown.
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3. Permanent upwelling cell in northern Mauritania

  • Location: The cell is the core (21°N) of the Canary upwelling ecosystem, one of the four most important upwelling systems in the world. The strong tradewinds in the cold weather period (November to June) push the coastal waters out to sea and cause the upwelling of nutrient-rich cold waters from the depths. In summer (July-October), when the wind changes direction and the Mauritanian sea is fed by warm surface waters from the south (the Guinea Current), most of the upwelling stops, except off Cap Blanc (21°N), where it persists throughout the year.
  • The area is characterized by significant fishery resources, large populations of Palaearctic, Antarctic and subregional (including Macaronesian) marine birds and emblematic megafauna (tuna, swordfish, sailfish, sharks, rays, dolphins, bottlenose whales, baleen whales and sperm whales). Also noteworthy is the seasonal presence of many pelagic fish, marine birds (including gannet and phalaropes), and large predators and cetaceans. It is thus one of the key zones for small pelagic fish (sardinettes, sardines, anchovies, horse mackerel and mackerel), representing more than 85% of fisheries production in the Mauritanian EEZ. It is also a key area for a large proportion of demersal fish, with small pelagic fish serving as forage species. This is a dynamic system, with an area of high primary productivity, which may expand or shrink (spatially or temporally) and could potentially be influenced by climate change.
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4. Timiris Canyon system

  • Location: Timiris Canyon is the largest canyon in the Mauritanian EEZ. Its depth is 250 to 300 m and it varies between 2 and 7.5 km in width. It winds for 450 km perpendicular to the coast in the abyssal area.
  • The structure of the canyon plays an important ecological role as a corridor connecting the flora and fauna in the bathyal and abyssal zones with the biodiversity in the neritic and coastal zone. Transport of sediments from the coast to deeper waters is facilitated by the canyon’s structure. The same is true for the movement of waters from the depths to the surface. It is thus probable that the surface waters around the canyon serve as a sanctuary for pelagic biodiversity. Canyons play an important part in the linkage of the ecosystems of the abyssal plain, slope and continental shelf.

5. Cayar Seamount

  • Location: The Cayar Seamount is located off Cayar, 300 km west of Cap-Vert, Senegal, at longitudes 17.864223 W and 17.496424 W and latitudes 15.832420 N and 15.368942 N. It is found at depths of from 200 to 500 m at a distance of approximately 100 nautical miles from the coast.
  • This complex comprises three mounts: called Cayar mount, Petit Cayar mount and Medina mount. The Cayar Seamount is one of the rare seamounts off the coast of Senegal characterized by high biodiversity and strong hydrodynamics. The positive consequences of this dynamic water flow, including high biodiversity and primary productivity, encourage the frequentation of these zones by trawlers and even by small-scale fishers, who often engage in destructive fishing activities.
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6. Cayar Canyon

  • Location: Cayar Canyon is located at approximately 15°25'N and 18°0'W. It is situated in Senegalese territorial waters and the EEZ.
  • Cayar Canyon is located at approximately 15°25'N and 18°0'W. This canyon is a rare ecosystem in terms of its size and specificity. It is characterized, moreover, by high biodiversity. This area is an important zone for the migration of seabirds, turtles and several species of coastal pelagic fish and coastal demersal fish.

7. Saloum Delta

  • Location: 17.071 W and 16.573 W, 14.235N and 13.601 N.
  • The Saloum Delta is located in the centre-west of Senegal. Straddling the regions of Thiès and Fatick 80 km to the west of the town of Kaolack, it combines the characteristics of a humid, marine, estuarine, lake and wetlands zone. It is an amphibious domain, composed of three large groups of islands surrounded by a dense network of channels (generally known as “bolons”). It is the primary environment for fish species and water birds to reproduce, forage and take refuge. This rich environment is linked to the presence of many mudflats surrounded by mangroves.

8. Mouth of the Casamance River

  • Location: The mouth of the Casamance is located in southern Senegal on the Atlantic side. It is situated between 17.150513 W and 16.737610 W, and between 12.835083 N and 12.393311 N.
  • From a biological standpoint, the zone includes the nurseries of several pelagic and demersal species (Sardinel1a aurita, Sardinella maderensis, Trachurus trecae, Decapterus rhonchus, Epinephelus aeneus). It is a migration and reproduction area for several species of fish, sea turtles and birds.

9. Island of Boavista

  • Location: The Boavista marine zone covers the area situated between 15.802917 N and 20.773682 N latitude and between 16.024292 W and 17.238525 W longitude. It covers the south-west and south-east part of the island of Boavista and the João Valente, Boavista and Cape Verde seamounts, in Cape Verde.
  • The marine zone around the island of Boavista is characterized by a large diversity of corals, which is considered one of the 10 hotspots for the conservation of coral in the world. It is also the top reproduction area for loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) on the eastern Atlantic margin and the third largest in the world. The biological and ecological importance of this zone is also accentuated by the presence of seamounts, notably those of João Valente, Boavista and Cape Verde. Moreover, it is significant as a foraging and reproduction area for many marine species, including sharks and cetaceans. Lastly, the zone contains most of the marine biomass of Cape Verde.

10. Santa Luzia, Raso and Branco complex

  • Location: 16º86’ – 16º51’N; 24º85’ – 24º51’W
  • Situated north of the Cape Verde archipelago, the islands of Santa Luzia, Branco and Raso are uninhabited and are near other sparsely populated islands (Sao Vicente and Boavista). Their biological richness and the need to preserve their biodiversity have led the national authorities (Directorate-General of Environment) to establish a wilderness reserve and, since 2009, a marine protected area to reconcile conservation activities and the need to ensure the harmonious development of local communities, consisting mostly of fishers.

11. Santo Antão north-west region

  • Location: The area extends from north-western Boavista, rising from depths of 2,000 to 30 m, and is located 15 nautical miles from the island of Santo Antão in Cape Verde. The site is situated between 15.802917N and 20.773682N latitude and between 17.238525 W and 16.024292 W longitude.
  • The Santo Antão north-west region is a site of great biological and ecological value, characterized by the presence of large habitats, such as seamounts, canyons and corals. The site also provides habitat for many emblematic and threatened species, such as cetaceans and sea turtles, and presents a high level of biological productivity. The Santo Antão north-west is one of the principal fishery zones in Cape Verde, particularly for tuna, and also hosts endemic species. Additional data are needed in order to evaluate the natural or non-natural character of the (criterion 7), although current activities (mainly fishing) indicate some disturbance.
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12. Bijagos archipelago

  • Location: The Bijagos archipelago is located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, in the estuary of the Geba/Corubal rivers, between 15.802917 N and 20.773682 N latitude and between 16.024292 W and 17.238525 W longitude. It covers a vast island complex with a total surface area of 1,046,950 ha, including islands and islets. It extends up to 100 km off the coast, approaching the edge of the continental shelf, within national jurisdiction.
  • The Bijagos archipelago is an exceptional site, characterized by the presence of many threatened and emblematic species, a diversity of critical habitats and a high biological productivity. The archipelago is the second-largest site for Palaearctic birds and the largest breeding ground for green turtles on the African continent. Moreover, the Bijagos archipelago is thought to be the last refuge for sawfish, a species in critical danger of extinction in West Africa. The area encompasses the entire marine portion of the archipelago, following the 10-metre depth contour.

13. Rio Pongo

  • Location: Rio Pongo, which takes its name from the river bordering it, is located in the prefecture of Boffa, on the northern Guinean coast between 10°01’-10°13’ N and 14°04-14°12’ W. Its surface area is 0.300 km2
  • This is an area of refuge, reproduction and growth for juveniles and a migration corridor for many marine and coastal organisms. Rio Pongo is located on the northern Guinean coast between 10°01’-10°13’ N and 14°04-14°12’ W in the prefecture of Boffa. Compared to other sections of the coastline, this site is less degraded and harbours bird species such as Ciconia episcopus, Ardea goliath, Scopus umbretta, Ibis ibis, Haliaetus vocifer and Pandion haliaetus. The presence of the West African manatee Trichechus senégalensis has also been noted. Data exist on the marine biological diversity (phytoplankton, zooplankton, shrimp, benthos and fish) in the Fatala and Motéba estuaries. These data confirm that the two estuaries are nursery areas that deserve attention and protection. To ensure the continued supply of biological products to the Guinean population, on the one hand, and, on the other, to sustainably protect birds and other threatened species, the Republic of Guinea designated Rio Pongo, among others, as a Ramsar site in September 1992.

15. Yawari Complex

  • Location: The area lies within the southern shelf region of Sierra Leone’s coastal waters between latitudes 7º22'29.66" N and 8º07'16.35" N, and longitude 12º41'11.16" W and 13º20'11.24" W.. The Yawri Complex traverses Yawri Bay, Banana and Turtle Islands and extends southward in the Sherbro Island and 10 km west off the bay into the adjacent continental shelf waters of Sierra Leone.
  • The Yawri Complex supports threatened biodiversity, including royal tern (Sterna maxima), West Africa manatee (Trichechus senegalensis), sharks and marine turtles (Chelonia mydas, Caretta caretta, Lepidochelys olivacea). Much research has shown that this area is a very important spawning site for many fin and shell fish species as well as threatened sea turtles.
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16. Rivercess-Greenville Turtle-Breeding Ground

  • Location: The area is located in the southern part of Rivercess and Sinoe counties in the south-eastern part of Liberia. It is approximately 20 miles from Cestos city in Rivercess and 10 miles from Greenville city in Sinoe County. The area is entirely within Liberia’s national jurisdiction.
  • Rivercess-Greenville is a breeding ground for sea turtles, pelagic, benthic and other fish species that dwell in warm, shallow water. More than ten species of marine turtle can be found along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Different species of marine turtle were found. The area is found along the southern continental margin of Liberia. Part of Cape Mount, specifically Semberhun, Banjor Beach in Montserrado and Baford Bay were identified as turtle-breeding grounds, but the shoreline between Rivercess and Greenville predominates over the rest of the area, hence the reason for its description. The spawning ground is linked to the estuary of Sanquin River, which transports pieces of decayed wooden material that provide shelter and food for the inhabitants. Seabirds, such as streaked shearwater, great winged petrel and Murphy’s petrel, inhabit the area. This area is considered a priority because of its biological significance and the vulnerability of the marine ecosystem.
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17. Tabou Canyon and Seamount

  • Location: This area is located off the coast of Tabou, Côte d’Ivoire.
  • This area includes a canyon and seamount, and the water depth offshore is over 100 m. The seabed presents sandy or muddy habitats, a combination of the two, distinctive facies and rocks. The region is also characterized by non-mature upwellings. The biological communities include many giant algae (such as Ulva sp. and Sargasum sp.) attached or unattached to the rocks, which provide refuge and foraging sites for many sea animals, molluscs (mainly mussels Mytilus perna), which also serve as food; crustaceans (characterized by spiny lobsters Palinurus sp, slipper lobsters Scyllarides sp. and prawns Penaeus notialis); pelagic fish; demersal fish (such as Brachydeuterus auritus (Val. 1834), Sardinella aurita C.V., Sardinella eba, Anchoviella guineensis, Pseudolithus senegalensis V., Pseudolithus typus BLKR, and Ethmalosa fimbriata Bowdich); reptiles (mainly sea turtles such as leatherback turtles Dermochelys coriacea, Olive Ridley turtles Lepidochelys olivacea, green turtles Chelonia mydas and hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata); and, lastly, aquatic mammals such as West African manatees (Trichechus senegalensis).

18. Abidjan Canyon and Trou sans Fond

  • Location: This area, located at latitude 3°N-5°N and longitude 3.8°W-4.3°W, subdivides Ivorian marine waters into two sectors, in a plane perpendicular to the coastline: the western sector from Abidjan to the Liberian border and the eastern sector from Abidjan to Ghana.
  • In the marine region of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire has a canyon and a trou sans fond (bottomless hole) that maintain its maritime biological diversity heritage. With depths of over 3,000 m, the canyon and trou sans fond are rich in benthic communities (about 200 species of polychaetes) and fish, including six families and 17 species of fish belonging to the community of coastal pelagic fish dominated by Sardinella aurita, S. eba, S. rouxi etc. The benthic habitat, dominated by mud and distinctive facies, such as faecal pellets, constitute a receptacle for all the pollutants from the city of Abidjan. Lastly, the canyon and trou sans fond contribute to the self-purification of the marine environment and Ebrié and Grand-Lahou lagoons, and to the ecological balance of the region.

19. Shrimp and sardine route from Tabou to Assinie

  • Location: The Tabou-Assinie marine area is located at latitude 5°N-4°N and longitude 7°W-3°W.
  • The landscape of the coastline, over 500 km long, is dominated by evergreen forests, swamp forests, mangroves, pre-lagoon savannahs, nature parks and reserves, direct communication of watercourses with the sea or with lagoons, and Fresco, Grand-Lahou, Ebrié and Aby lagoons. The western part is made up primarily of cliffs overhanging the sea and sandy beaches where sea turtles nest, while the eastern part is dominated by sandy beaches and often presents areas of severe erosion and closed river mouths. The region is traversed by the Guinea current and counter-current, which produces mature, nutrient-rich seasonal upwellings. These upwellings are the basis for the creation of the region’s food web. The first link in this chain is the production of phytoplankton. The production of zooplankton is also relatively high. The volume of shrimp production fluctuates between 600 and 800 tonnes/year, and that of fish, mainly sardines, amounts to between 30,000 and 40,000 tonnes a year. In addition, with more than 300 species of fish sampled, the region holds more than 80 per cent of the country’s marine species.

20. The EEZ off the coast of Côte d’Ivoire

  • Location: The waters of this area, located at latitude 3°N-0° and longitude 2.5°W-8.5°W, are over 100 m deep.
  • Côte d’Ivoire has marine waters offshore in the EEZ and a special marine area that are ecologically and biologically significant, being a site for migration, reproduction and development of larval, juvenile and adult deep-sea red crabs (Geryon maritae), migratory fish, including albacore (Thunnus albacares), skipback (Katsuwanus pelamis), bigeye (Thunnus obesus), longfin (Thunus alalunga), small tuna including little tunny (Euthynnus alleterratus) and frigate mackerel (Auxis thazard), Atlantic sailfish (Istiophorus albicans), swordfish (Xiphias gladius) and sharks. The benthic environment is dominated by muddy bottoms and distinctive facies, and the region is characterized by strong, mature upwellings. The main threats to the region are illegal fishing, overexploitation and pollution, as well as invasive alien species. Given the socio-economic importance of the region, many studies are being carried out there; a tuna observatory is being established and observers are soon expected to participate in the tuna campaigns.

21. Agbodrafo coastal and marine habitat

  • Location: The area is located within the national jurisdiction of Togo. It is primarily coastal and is bounded by the continental shelf. Its geographical coordinates are as follows:
  • LatitudeLongitude
    6°09’00" N1°18’00" E;
    5°56’24" N1°20’24" E;
    6°00’00" N1°34’48" E;
    6°12’32" N1°31’12" E.
  • The Agbodrafo coastal and marine habitat is situated between the autonomous port of Lomé to the west and the ore port of Kpémé. Mainly coastal, it ends at the continental shelf and presents significant characteristics for the development of a very important biological community. It has a primarily sandy bottom, artificial reefs, including three shipwrecks, and pipeline installation structures. The presence of “beach rock” is an essential element in this habitat because it acts as a support around which many algal communities develop. Besides the 452 species of fish found in Togo, this area is home to four species of sea turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys olivacea and Dermochelys coriacea), the last two of which nest along the whole coast. It is a foraging site for green turtles (Chelonia mydas), which eat the algae that grow on the beach rock. The area is also home to 16 species of sea mammals, including a population of humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii). Most of these species are in the vulnerable category on the IUCN red list. The area in question is threatened by, among other things, coastal erosion, various types of pollution, the growth of maritime traffic and the overexploitation of natural resources.

22. Bouche du Roi-Togbin

  • Location: The area is situated in Togo, at the following coordinates:
  • LatitudeLongitude
    6°19'35" N1°54'33" E;
    6°20'43" N2°20'33" E;
    6°00'00" N1°54'32" E;
    6°00'00" N2°24'28" E.
  • The Bouche du Roi-Togbin marine area is part of the coastal plain, which is a complex of barrier beaches separated by tidal flats and lagoons. The water depth varies from 0 to more than 1,000 m. The region is also characterized by a small seasonal upwelling. This process encourages the proliferation of biological communities, including phytoplankton, zooplankton, algae attached to isolated rocks and the chain of coral reefs, crustaceans, pelagic and demersal fish, cetaceans and marine reptiles, including turtles. This site was chosen because of the voluntary reduction in authorized catches and the increase in fishing managed by quotas.

23. Togo-Benin cross-border marine area

  • Location: This cross-border area straddles the countries of Togo and Benin. It is mainly coastal in nature and ends at the continental shelf. It is located within the national jurisdiction of the two countries. It is located between Aného pass (in Togo) and the mouth of the Mono River (in Benin). The geographical coordinates are as follows:
  • LatitudeLongitude
    6.23° N1.58° E;
    6.03° N1.63° E;
    6.12° N1.99° E;
    6.30° N1.96° E.
  • This is a long area running approximately 27 km along the coast and extending more than 22 km into the sea. The two river mouths offer good conditions for high biological productivity in the coastal and marine ecosystems. A very significant marine and coastal biological diversity is found in both countries, with some emblematic species that are now registered on the IUCN Red List and are covered by many international treaties on the conservation of biological diversity. However, this area is exposed to quite a number of threats, owing to human settlements and the exploitation of resources, but also, and especially, to the building of major public works such as dams and mines.

24. Kribi-Campo

  • Location: The geographical boundaries of the area, located in Cameroon, are approximately as follows: UTM (32N591356; 259684); (600000; 320000); (574337; 320000); (574337; 262513).
  • The Kribi-Campo marine area is one of the richest sites in Cameroon in terms of biodiversity. In addition to sea turtle nesting grounds, it includes archaeological sites and mythic rocks (Rocher du Loup). Also found there are the Waterfalls of Lobé, which tumble directly into the sea. The Cameroonian Government realized the need to create a marine protected area on part of the Kribi-Campo marine area. Despite the threats posed by the Kribi deep-water port construction project, this plan has already made considerable progress. Moreover, this area, situated off the coast of Kribi, which covers a total surface of about 126,053 hectares, has already been declared a Public Interest Marine Zone, by the Minister of Forests and Wildlife.
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25. Lagoa Azul and Praia das Conchas

  • Location: The island of Sao Tomé, part of the country of Sao Tomé and Principe, is located approximately between 2º32' - 2º43' N and 7º20' - 7º28' E, and 300 km from the African continent, has a linear coast of 143 km, a land surface of 859 km² and a continental shelf surface of 436 km², with a small-scale fishing zone of 3,171 km².
  • This marine area includes many ecosystems, comprising many habitats, including 33 bays, corals, rocks, sandy bottoms and beaches that are frequented by numerous marine animals, such as fish (Epinephelus goreensis, Istiophorus albicans, Caranx crysos, Scomber scombrus, Euthynnus alleteratus, Hemiramphus balao Cypselurus melanurus, Trachurus trachurus and Katsuwonus pelamet), sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys olivacea, Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta), and seabirds (Egretta garzetta). All or part of the life cycle of these animals occurs in this zone, sometimes supporting large fisheries that help to improve the well-being of the coastal communities.

26. Ilhas Tinhosas

  • Location: The marine area on the island of Principe, part of the country of Sao Tomé and Principe, is situated approximately 160 km north of the island of Sao Tomé, between 1º32' - 1º43' N and 7º20' - 7º28' E, and 220 km from the African continent. The main island has a total area of 142 km2 and is associated with several small islets.
  • The marine area presents different ecosystems and habitats, including sandy beaches where many species of sea turtle nest and lay their eggs, the most important of which are Dermochelys coriacea, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys olivacea, Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta. In addition, the region abounds with many endemic corals (Montastraea cavernosa, guineense and Porites bernardi), demersal fish (Epinephelus goreensis), pelagic fish, such as Istiophorus albicans, Caranx crysos, Scomber scombrus, Euthynnus alleteratus, Hemiramphus balao, Cypselurus melanurus, Trachurus trachurus and Katsuwonus pelamet, and sharks (Charcharinidae, Hemigaleidae and Sphyrnidae). Lastly, the region is frequented by many seabirds, such as Phaeton lepturus, Onychoprion fuscatus, Sula eucogaster, Onychoprion fuscatus and Anous minute.

27. Mayumba marine and coastal area

  • Location: The special nature of this part of the Gabonese coast is related to the presence of vast lagoon areas, extending from Fernan Vaz lagoon, 500 km north of this marine area, to beyond the border with Congo.
  • The Mayumba marine and coastal area is characterized by large aquatic mammals (whales, orcas, sharks and dolphin), and large land mammals (elephant, water buffalo and hippopotamus) in the barrier beaches covered with vegetation, in particular leatherback turtles arriving and laying their eggs between October and April.
The Mayumba coast is characterized by a long sandy beach, a large lagoon surrounded by several smaller lagoons, mangrove ecosystems, barrier beaches and coastal paleodunes, behind which a group of coastal savannahs and forests is developing. This area is distinguished by its rich biodiversity: it is home to shore animals (lobsters, ghost crabs), but also birds, primates (mandrills, gorillas and chimpanzees) and a multitude of coastal and marine fishery resources.

28. North-west continental shelf

  • Location: It is located off the coast of Pointe Noire, including area between the depth contours of 120 to 450 m and beyond. The area is situated within national jurisdiction of Congo.
  • It is characterized by the high productivity of coastal waters, biodiversity and the high levels of fish stock. This area between the 120- and 450-m isobaths has a 20-km wide terrace. The bathymetry of the area, in schematic form, is as follows: Off the coast of Congo, in the northern Gabonese-Congolese part, it presents a simple topography, with a regularly and slightly inclined bottom, reaching 100 m, with outcrops between 75 and 100 m. The communities of living resources include deep-sea demersal resources and offshore pelagic resources. It is situated on the shelf at depths of 120 m and beyond. It has special characteristics, in terms of climate and the variability of resources.

29. Muanda coastal and marine area

  • Location: It covers an area of approximately 66,000 ha, and its geographical coordinates are located between 5°45’ – 6°55’ S latitude and 12°45’ – 13° E longitude, within the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • The Atlantic coast of the Democratic Republic of Congo is 40 km long, with a large area of mangroves erected in the Marine Mangrove Park up to its northern border with the Angolan province of Cabindo. This western region of the coastal area covers about 110,000 hectares.
The Marine Mangrove Park is divided into two areas: area A, composed of mangroves under wildlife protection, and area B, made up of humid savannah and a coastal strip, which is partially protected. The area includes the coastline, where sea turtles nest, the area around the mangroves and the marine basin created by the underwater canyon adjacent to the zone of influence of the Congo River in the Atlantic region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This area meets the EBSA criteria because of the significance of its marine biodiversity. One can observe manatee, hippopotamuses, whales, dolphins, sea turtles, fish, seabirds, molluscs, crustaceans, mangroves, etc. Moreover, the presence of a canyon and the influence of the Congo River at its mouth have led to the formation of a marine basin. Added to this situation is the phenomenon of upwelling, which attracts many marine animals, thereby creating a favourable living environment for foraging and reproduction. The presence of this basin also encourages primary production, salinity, the distribution of marine organisms, marine hydrodynamics and the orientation of the Benguela and Guinea currents.
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30. Equatorial tuna production area

  • Location: This area, which straddles the equator, originates in the Congo marine basin; its waters are more than 100 m deep and at times more than 1,000 m deep.
  • The offshore marine waters of the coastal African countries adjacent to the Guinea Current have a regional marine area known as an “equatorial production zone”, which meets the EBSA criteria because it a site for migration, reproduction and development of larval, juvenile and adult tuna and associated species (including albacore (Thunnus albacares), skipback (Katsuwanus pelamis), bigeye (Thunus obesus), longfin (Thunnus alalunga), small tuna including little tunny (Euthynnus alleterratus) and frigate mackerel (Auxis thazard), Atlantic sailfish (Istiophorus albicans), swordfish (Xiphias gladius), sharks and rays. Tuna catches are estimated at more than 200,000 tons a year. The benthic habitat is composed primarily of mud and distinctive facies, and the region seasonally experiences strong, mature upwellings. Given the socio-economic importance of the region, many studies have been carried out on both the fauna and the environment.

31. Area of convergence of the Canary and Guinea currents

  • Location: This area, located at approximately 3°-15° N and 12°-25° W, covers the ecosystems and habitats of the coast of southern Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and northern Liberia and the national and EEZ marine waters, and extending into the deep-sea waters, encompassing many seamounts.
  • This area is home to many ecosystems, habitats and, in particular, seamounts. The area includes species such as pink shrimp (Penaeus notialis), grooved shrimp (P. kerathurus), spiny lobsters (Panulirus spp.) and molluscs. Also present are pelagic and demersal fish, including Clupeidés, Sciaenidés, Drepanidés, Polynemidés, Pomadasyidés, Lutjanidés, Cynoglossidés, Psettodidés (Psettodes belcheri), Tetraodontidés (Lagocephalus laevigatus), Gerridés (Gerres melanopterus), Ariidés (Arius spp), Sphyraenidés (Sphyraena spp), Dasyatidés (Dasyatis margarita) and Albulidés (Albula vulpes). Highly migratory fish are also represented by albacore (Thunnus albacares), skipback (Katsuwanus pelamis), bigeye (Thunus obesus) and longfin (Thunus alalunga). In this area one may also find small tuna, including little tunny (Euthynnus alleterratus) and frigate mackerel (Auxis thazard); Atlantic sailfish (Istiophorus albicans) and swordfish (Xiphias gladius); sharks and aquatic mammals such as the West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis). Lastly, birds are represented in the area by, among others, Ciconia episcopus, Ardea goliath, Scopus umbretta, Ibis ibis, Haliaetus vocifer and Pandion haliaetus. The region is also characterized by strong upwellings, which are the basis for the high productivity of the marine waters.

32. Ramiros-Palmerinhas Coastal Area

  • Location: The area is located to the south of Luanda City, Angola. The area excludes the Mussuolo Peninsula but includes the lagoon and Cazanga Island, as well as the coastal area southward to the Kwanza River.
  • This area includes two estuaries, small coastal islands, mangroves and sandy beaches. The vegetation in the area is dominated by low-growing saltmarsh species and other flora and fauna that inhabit intertidal flats. The area is an important breeding site for threatened marine turtles and a nursery area for crabs, with a diversity of other species. The mangroves and associated habitat, and some species (such as nesting turtles), are sensitive to anthropogenic pressures (e.g., traffic, pollution, exploitation, development and associated fragmentation) with implications on their ecosystem functions (refuge, breeding and foraging areas, etc). The area is vulnerable considering species that grow and reproduce slowly and are therefore slow to recover from population declines/deforestation (including turtles, the manatee, mangroves).

33. Kunene-Tigress

  • Location: The area is delineated as encompassing ~4841 km2 (103 km x 47 km), with a northern limit 10 km north of Tigres Island, a southern limit 2 km south of the Kunene River mouth and an offshore extent of 25 nautical miles. The area is well within the national jurisdictions of the two neighbouring countries it straddles (i.e., Angola and Namibia) with >80% of the area falling within Angolan jurisdiction
  • The Kunene River and the Tigres Island-Bay complex are integrally linked by physicochemical processes. Although separated by ~50 km, the Kunene River influences the salinity, sediment and productivity within the Tigres Bay north of the river mouth. This area is characterized by its uniqueness, importance for migratory birds, nursery functions and its high diversity of habitats and species.

34. Namibian Islands

  • Location: The area comprises four islands (as one unit) located between the latitudes of 24 and 27°S, within the national jurisdiction of Namibia.
  • The Namibian offshore islands are located in the central region of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) within the intensive Lüderitz upwelling cell. Four Namibian offshore islands are characterized by their significance for life history stages of endangered and vulnerable seabird species. The four islands (Mercury Island, Halifax Island, Ichaboe Island and Possession Island) are seabird breeding sites within the existing Namibian Islands Marine Protected Area (NIMPA). A buffer area of 5 km around each island is used to delineate the ecological and biological significance of the islands and adjacent marine environment.

35. Orange Cone

  • Location: The estuary is located at 29°S and forms the coastal boundary of South Africa and Namibia, which continues seaward in a south-west direction. The area extends 30 km north and south of the Orange River, and to approximately 60 km offshore, although as far as100 km offshore, the area still has characteristics of the Orange Cone marine environment. This area straddles marine areas within the national jurisdictions of both South Africa and Namibia.
  • The Orange Cone is South Africa’s major river in terms of run-off to the marine environment. The estuary is rich in biodiversity, but modified. The coastal area includes a critically endangered habitat (Namaqua Sandy Inshore). The marine environment experiences slow, variable currents and weaker winds, making it potentially favourable for reproduction of pelagic species. Further, given the proven importance of river outflow for fish recruitment at the Thukela Banks (a comparable shallow, fine sediment environment), there is likely to be a similar ecological dependence for the inshore Orange Cone. Comparable estuary/inshore habitats are not encountered for 300 km south (Olifants River) and over 1300 km north (Kunene). The Orange River Mouth is a transboundary Ramsar site under consideration as a protected area by South Africa and Namibia. In summary, this area is considered to be highly relevant in terms of “Uniqueness or rarity” and “Special importance for life history stages of species”.

36. Orange Shelf Edge

  • Location: The area occurs at the outer shelf and shelf edge of the western continental margin of South Africa and Namibia, in the vicinity of the border between the two countries. It is within the national jurisdiction of the two countries.
  • On the Namibian side, it includes Tripp Seamount and a shelf-indenting canyon. The area in South Africa is known to consist of shelf/shelf edge habitat with hard and unconsolidated substrates, including at least three of 60 offshore benthic habitat types that have been identified. According to a recent threat status assessment of coastal and marine habitat in South Africa, these three habitat types are threatened; one of these is Critically Endangered. However, the area is one of few areas in South Africa where these threatened habitat types are in relatively natural/pristine condition. Based on analysis of a long-term trawl survey data series, the area has been identified as a persistent hotspot of demersal fish biodiversity. This may be related to the heterogeneous habitat of the area. In summary, it is considered to be highly relevant in terms of the following EBSA criteria: ”Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats”, “biological diversity” and “naturalness”.

37. Childs Bank

  • Location: The Childs Bank area is located approximately 190 nautical miles off Hondeklipbaai on the west coast of South Africa and lies entirely within national jurisdiction.
  • Childs Bank is a unique submarine bank feature occurring within South Africa’s EEZ, rising from 400 m to 200 m on the western continental margin on South Africa. This area includes five benthic habitat types, including the bank itself, the outer shelf and the shelf edge, supporting hard and unconsolidated habitat types. One habitat type within this area is assessed to be “Critically Endangered” and another two as “Vulnerable”. However, the benthic area of the bank itself is considered to be in “Good” natural state indicating that the ecological patterns and processes are intact. Childs Bank and associated habitats are known to support structurally complex cold-water corals, hydrocorals, gorgonians and glass sponges, species that comprise vulnerable marine ecosystems. The Childs Bank area is highly relevant in terms of the following EBSA criteria: “Uniqueness or rarity”, “Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity or slow recovery” and “Naturalness”.

38. Namaqua Coastal Area

  • Location: The area is within the national jurisdiction of South Africa, occurring on the west coast, in the Namaqua bioregion. It is bounded to the north and south by the Spoeg and the Sout river estuaries, respectively.
  • The Namaqua bioregion is characterized by high productivity and biomass of communities along its shores. A large proportion of the area is characterized by habitat that is in relatively good (natural/pristine) condition, due to much lower levels of anthropogenic pressures relative to other coastal areas in the Northern Province. Therefore the area is important for several threatened habitat types represented there (including some that have been classified as Critically Endangered). The area is also considered to be important for the conservation of estuarine areas and of coastal fish species and highly relevant in terms of the following EBSA criteria: “Biological productivity”, “Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats” and “Naturalness”.

39. Cape Canyon and Surrounds

  • Location: This area is located off the southwest coast of South Africa and is completely within its national jurisdiction. The area includes the Cape Canyon, the adjacent shelf edge, outer and inner shelf areas and parts of St Helena Bay. Langebaan Lagoon and the islands off Saldana Bay are also included in this area.
  • Cape Canyon is one of two submarine canyons off the west coast of South Africa, and this broader area has been recognized as an important area in three systematic conservation plans. Both benthic and pelagic features are included, and the area is important for pelagic fish, foraging marine mammals and several threatened seabird species. The canyon and a muddy habitat on the shelf edge are habitat types of limited extent and are considered critically endangered. There is evidence that the submarine canyon hosts fragile habitat-forming species and there are other unique and potentially vulnerable benthic communities in the area. The hard ground areas, particularly those outside of the trawl footprint, are also likely to be susceptible to damage and there are increasing petroleum and mining applications in this area. There are several small coastal MPAs within this area.

40. Browns Bank

  • Location: Browns Bank includes benthic and pelagic habitats of the outer shelf and shelf edge along the western continental margin of South Africa. This area is off the southwest coast of South Africa and is completely within national jurisdiction.
  • The area includes a unique gravel habitat, reef-building cold-water corals and untrawled hard grounds. It is an important fish spawning area for demersal and pelagic species. The spawning area is linked to nursery grounds on the inshore area of the west coast and the Agulhas Bank and has better retention than areas further north. The Agulhas and Southern Benguela ecoregions meet at the southeastern boundary of the area, and sporadic shelf edge upwelling enhances the productivity along the outer margin. The area is important for threatened habitats and species; including a critically endangered benthic habitat type and overlapping substantially with two proposed marine Important Bird Areas, namely for Cory’s Shearwater and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. The area was identified as a priority area through two systematic biodiversity plans, meeting targets for habitat representation, vulnerable marine ecosystems and hake spawning.

41. Namaqua Fossil Forest

  • Location: This area occurs on the middle shelf in the 120-140 m depth range off the Namaqualand coast in South Africa. It is within the EEZ of South Africa.
  • The Namaqua Fossil Forest is a small (2 km2) seabed outcrop composed of fossilized yellowwood trees in the 136-140 m depth range approximately 30 km offshore on the west coast of South Africa. The fossilized tree trunks have been colonized by fragile, habitat-forming scleractinian corals, confirmed by images from submersible surveys. The outcrops are composed of laterally extensive slabs of rock of dimensions up to 5 x 1 x 0.5 m. Based on regional side scan sonar interpretations, the outcrop is believed to be unique to the area. The site is considered to be un-mined although it may fall within a current diamond mining lease area. In summary, the Namaqua fossil forest is considered to be a highly unique feature with substantial structural complexity that is highly vulnerable to benthic impacts.
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42. Namib Flyway

  • Location: The Namib Flyway is situated between Cape Cross and Sandwich Harbour on the inshore area of the terrestrial Dorob National Park and the Namib Naukluft Park, between latitudes 21 and 24 degrees south. The area extends offshore for 50 nautical miles, within the national jurisdiction of Namibia.
  • The Namib Flyway is a highly productive area in the Benguela system that attracts large numbers of sea and shorebirds, marine mammals, marine turtles and other fauna. It contains two marine Ramsar sites, four Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and two proposed offshore IBAs. The upwelling cell off Lüderitz has its impact further north with the longshore drift and predominant onshore winds. Primary production of the Benguela current is highest in the central regions of the Namibian coast, driven by delayed blooming.

43. Benguela Upwelling System

  • Location: The geographical extent of the Benguela upwelling system is from Cape Point in the south to the Angola-Namibia border (17°15'S) in the north along the southwestern African coast. Furthermore it is delineated as the area from the high water mark to the limit of the >1000 mg C/m2/day productivity threshold derived from the mean of the Vertically Generalized Production Model (VGPM) estimates of Global Ocean Productivity. At the northern region the offshore limit of the Benguela Upwelling System area extends outside the EEZs of Namibia and Angola.
  • The Benguela upwelling system is bounded in the north and south by warm water current systems and characterized by very high primary productivity (>1000 mg C/m2/day). This high biological productivity supports numerous commercial, artisanal and recreational fisheries. It includes important spawning and nursery areas for fish as well as foraging areas for endangered and threatened bird species. Another key characteristic feature is the diatomaceous mud-belt in northern Benguela. This includes regionally unique low oxygen benthic communities that depend on sulphide oxidizing bacteria.

44. Walvis Ridge

  • Location: This feature is entirely outside national jurisdiction, extending obliquely from the Namibia – Angola continental margin (19.3°S) to the Tristan da Cunha island group at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (37.4°S).
  • The Walvis Ridge is a significant seamount chain forming a bridge running east to west from the African continental margin to the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is a unique geomorphological feature likely to be of special importance to vulnerable sessile macrofauna and demersal fish associated with seamounts. Although bottom fisheries occur on the Walvis Ridge, the spatial extent of commercial fishing is limited to a relatively small area. Due to the variation in depths, ranging from slopes to summits and surface waters, it is likely that the area supports a relatively higher biological diversity. The feature supports a high diversity of globally threatened seabirds.
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45. Subtropical Convergence Zone (STCZ)

  • Location: The area is an elongated polygon from 9°–18°W to 36°–43°S and connects with the fringes of the Walvis Ridge and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to the West. Specific elements of the feature extend the boundary up to 31° and down to 45.5°S. The oceanographic features of the STCZ continue to the west towards the South American continental margin. The national jurisdiction of the Tristan da Cunha is excluded from the westward end of the area. This area is located exclusively in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). The Subtropical Convergence Zone borders to the north the subtropical gyres and to the south the northernmost current band of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.
  • The area has high productivity compared with the oligotrophic waters to the north and supports a significant diversity of biota. The area supports species such as southern bluefin tuna, southern right whale and seabirds recognized as threatened by IUCN, including the critically endangered tristan albatross.
Table 5.
Description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria in the Arctic
(Details are provided in the appendix to annex VIII of the Report of the Arctic Regional Workshop to Facilitate the Description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), UNEP/CBD/EBSA/WS/2014/1/5.)
Location and brief description of areas C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

1. The Marginal Ice Zone and the Seasonal Ice-Cover Over the Deep Arctic Ocean

  • Location: This area comprises the surface ice and related water column features associated with the marginal sea ice area in waters more than 500 m deep in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The marginal ice zone, at the edge of the ice pack, is a geographically and temporally dynamic feature and also changes in area, shape and geographic location from year to year, due to interannual variability of the Arctic ice pack. The multi-year marginal ice range of this area has been restricted to areas beyond national jurisdiction and waters greater than 500 m deep within the geographic scope of the workshop.
  • Large areas of the basins in the central Arctic Ocean now have annual ice and are thus ice edge and seasonal ice zones with a period of open water in summer. This new significant region of ice edge/seasonal ice and seasonal open water over the deep Arctic is highly dynamic both spatially and temporally. The marginal ice zone, which results from seasonal ice-cover over the deep Arctic Ocean (deeper than 500 m), is a significant and unique feature in areas beyond national jurisdiction. This kind of ice habitat is found nowhere else in the Arctic. Changes in sea ice alter the amount, timing and location of primary production, both within the ice and in the water column, with potential cascading effects throughout the ecosystem. The area is important for several endemic Arctic species. Some of the ice-related species are listed as vulnerable by IUCN, and/or listed as under threat and/or declining by OSPAR. The marginal ice zone and leads are important feeding areas for ice-associated species. Sea ice is important breeding, moulting and resting (haul out) habitat for certain marine mammals.
2. Multi-year Ice of the Central Arctic Ocean
  • Location: This area comprises the surface ice and related water column features associated with the multi-year sea-ice area. This area is described as a geographically and temporally dynamic feature. The multi-year ice range provided in this description refers to the area beyond national jurisdiction.
  • This area provides a range of globally and regionally important habitats. Projections of changing ice conditions due to climate change indicate that the central Arctic Ocean beyond national jurisdiction and in adjacent Canadian waters is likely to retain ice longer than all other regions of the Arctic, thus providing refugia for globally unique ice-dependent species, including vulnerable species, as the ice loss continues. A shift towards less multi-year sea ice will affect the species composition and production of the primary producers in the area, with potential cascading effects throughout the ecosystem. In a situation with decreasing ice cover, the effects on the ice fauna will be strongest at the edges of the multi-year sea ice. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are highly dependent on the sea ice habitat and are therefore particularly vulnerable to changes in sea ice extent, duration and thickness. The multi-year ice habitat is especially important as breeding habitat for polar bears of the southern and northern Beaufort Sea sub-populations.

3. Murman Coast and Varanger Fjord

  • Location: This area is located in the Barents Sea. It is bounded to the east by the White Sea, and to the west by the Russian/Norwegian maritime border. The area is bounded by the Murmansk Coastal Current, conventionally within 30 km from shore and generally shallower than 200 m depth.
  • This area is characterized by very high productivity (9-13% of annual net primary production; as well as high benthic biomass. It is used as a spawning area by several species of pelagic fishes (e.g., capelin, sand eel), while the coast contains a large number of seabird colonies — more than 50,000 breeding pairs of different species. The large diversity of avifauna is due to the overlap of distribution ranges of eastern and western species. The coast of the Kola peninsula is a wintering area for many seabirds from the eastern part of the Barents Sea. It also plays an important role in maintaining marine mammal populations, serving as an important feeding and breeding area for grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) and a feeding area for minke whales, harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and orcas (Orcinus orca). The coastal waters of the Kola Peninsula are used by beluga whales (Delphinapterus beluga) as a migration corridor and feeding area. Other cetaceans listed on the IUCN Red List are also regularly observed here, such as humpback whales (Megaptera novangliae), sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) and white-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris).

4. White Sea

  • Location: This area includes the entire White Sea except the northern part of Voronka, which is oceanographically close to the Barents Sea. It is located entirely within the EEZ of the Russian Federation, but contains international sea routes.
  • The White Sea, the youngest sea in Europe, has a peculiar oceanographic regime, with cold, deep water formation in the Gorlo strait. The Gorlo area is characterized by strong tidal currents creating high turbulence and mixing the water column down to the seabed. It spreads cold water to the south and fills the deep areas of the entire White Sea and retains sub-zero temperatures all year round. These specific conditions form a biotic boundary that limits dispersal of fauna from outside the area into the White Sea.
Deep areas filled with cold water provide habitats for pelagic and benthic biota, while upper layers and shallow areas host typical boreal fauna and macrophyte flora (i.e., kelp and seagrass). In certain areas, the number of macrobenthic species exceeds 460, while the number of phytoplankton species in the White Sea exceeds 440. The White Sea harbours two endemic subspecies of fish, migration routes of Atlantic salmon and their abundant stocks. Bays and islands of the White sea provide breeding habitats for 17 species of aquatic birds and serve as nesting areas of common eiders (Somateria molissima). This area overlaps with the East Atlantic flyway and thus has huge importance as a migration corridor and staging area. The polynyas that develop in winter are important wintering grounds for several seabird species. With regards to marine mammals, the White Sea contains important feeding, whelping and moulting areas of harp seals (Pagophilus groenladicus) and extremely important mating grounds of beluga whales (Delphinapterus beluga).

5. South-eastern Barents Sea (the Pechora Sea)

  • Location: The area largely covers the south-eastern shallow region of the Barents Sea, which is influenced by the Pechora River discharge. This area is traditionally called the Pechora Sea, even though it is not formally recognized as the sea. The area lies entirely within the territorial waters and the EEZ of the Russian Federation.
  • The shallow, south-east portion of the Barents Sea, known as the Pechora Sea, has specific oceanography, hydrology, ice regime and a distinct ecosystem mainly based on benthic production. It differs from the rest of the Barents Sea by its more continental climate, lower salinity, shallow depths and lowland shores. The most outstanding environmental feature is the Pechora River — the second-largest river draining into the European part of the Arctic Ocean. Its discharge influences this area and justifies certain biological features. The Pechora Sea is known to hold rich and highly productive benthic communities supported by considerable nutrient influx transported by the Pechora River. The benthic fauna numbers more than 600 taxa. Total biomass recorded at the Kolguev shallow, in the Kara and Yugor Shar straits, exceeds 500 mg/m2, which is the highest value found in the Barents Sea. This provides a good food base for benthic-feeding animals like sea ducks and walruses. Waterbirds represent another remarkable biological feature of the area. The Pechora Sea is located in the centre of the East Atlantic flyway and is a key stopover site for the majority of waterfowl species during the final stages of their migrations. Most of the waterfowl and other aquatic birds do not pass the area in transit but make extensive use of the rich food resources of sea shoals and sheltered bays, the littoral zone and adjacent coasts. Altogether, about 130 bird species are observed there. The Pechora Sea serves as a key habitat for Atlantic walrus and provides an important feeding ground and migration path for beluga whales (IUCN, vulnerable). Polar bears inhabit the area throughout the year. In addition to this, the Pechora Sea basin supports the only European stock of Arctic cisco (Coregonus autumnalis) and is an important migration area for the Pechora Atlantic salmon stock. It also serves as a principal spawning area for polar cod.

6. Coast of Western and Northern Novaya Zemlya

  • Location: The area covers the fjordic coastal zone and the adjacent shelf generally within the 100 m isobath (with the exception of the very northern part of the north island of Novaya Zemlya, where greater depth occurs very close to the shore. This area is located within Russia’s territorial sea and the EEZ.
  • The coast of western and northern Novaya Zemlya in the Barents Sea is a highly productive marine area based on a fluctuating polar front zone and marginal ice zone. Atlantic and Arctic water masses meet here and form the polar front, which is characterized by strong gradients in both temperature and salinity, and its position fluctuates along the eastern Barents Sea, thus accounting for the enhanced productivity of the entire coast off western Novaya Zemlya. Another feature supporting high productivity is a marginal ice zone, which moves in the course of a season in the same area. The area provides feeding grounds for common species of Barents Sea pinnipeds and ceatceans as well as breeding grounds for bearded (Erignathus barbatus) and ringed (Phoca hispida) seals. The system of shore leads and drift ice up along the west coast of Novaya Zemlya is supposed to constitute a spring migration route for beluga of the Kara stock and possibly for Atlantic walrus. The high productivity of this marine area supports the largest seabird colonies in the North-East Atlantic, including a large breeding population of common eiders. Rare and threatened species/habitats include staging and moulting grounds for the threatened Steller's eider and long-tailed duck (Speers and Laughlin, 2010). Benthic biomass in some places exceeds 1000 g/m2 at the western shore, and the area thus serves as an important feeding ground for Atlantic walruses. In winter the marginal ice zone, polynyas and leads off the west coast of Novaya Zemlya are important wintering areas for seabirds and polar bears.
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7. North-eastern Barents–Kara Sea

  • Location: The area covers the High Arctic Russian archipelagos of Franz-Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya, and several offshore islands, internal archipelagic waters and inland seas, the adjacent Russian territorial waters and the EEZ.
  • The area is an example of a unique, pristine and vulnerable High Arctic marine cryopelagic ecosystem characteristic of the Atlantic region. Its bathymetry consists of an archipelagic shelf and adjacent shelf break with numerous deep-water canyons; a marginal ice zone moves through the area in the course of the year. Its surface waters are typical Arctic waters, with Atlantic waters flowing along the continental slope and enriching local communities and biological productivity. The area has a high abundance of typical Arctic species (e.g., seabirds, marine mammals, benthic invertebrates), with core areas for several globally threatened species of birds and marine mammals.
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8. Ob-Enisey River Mouth

  • Location: The area includes deltas and estuaries of the great Siberian rivers Ob and Enisei, along with their outer maritime zones. Ob Gulf is the largest estuary in the Russian Arctic, and is nearly 1000 km long from the Ob Delta to the opening to the south-central Kara Sea in north. The Enisei Gulf is the second-largest, after the Ob.
  • The Ob and Enisei gulfs form the largest estuarine area in the Arctic. The continental outflow here is the greatest recorded in the Arctic seas. A large amount of fresh, warm river discharge causes an unstable saline regime in the upper layer of the largest part of the Kara Sea. Primary production in the frontal areas is high, which supports large stocks of freshwater and semi-anadromous fishes, aquatic birds and waterfowl. Anadromous and semi-anadromous species perform seasonal migrations through the estuary, while fast ice in the outer part of the river mouth zone serves as an important spawning area for the polar cod. The coastal zone of the area is characterized by exceptionally high biological and landscape diversity (coastal systems of transient habitats from sandy beaches to tundra, or “laidas”). It is the area where most of the biological hotspots are observed.
The area supports a variety of aquatic bird species. Most of them have closer relations to the marine habitats during non-breeding seasons. These include globally threatened species like Steller’s eider (Polysticta stelleri), velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca) and long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis), which breed in tundra but make extensive use of coastal waters during the non-breeding period. The estuary also provides moulting and feeding habitats for sea ducks, geese and swans, including king eider, long-tailed ducks, scoters, dark-bellied Brent goose and Bewick’s swan. The area also serves as an important summer feeding ground for beluga whales, and polar bears occur in the outer part of it.

9. Great Siberian Polynya

  • Location: This area is located in the Laptev Sea and corresponds to the maximum extent of the polynyas developing in the middle shelf of the Laptev Sea between East Taymyr and the area north of New Siberian Islands (on the boundary with the East Siberian Sea). This area is located entirely within the EEZ of the Russian Federation.
  • The system of polynyas in the Laptev Sea and specific conditions of the waters of New Siberian Islands is characterized by a high degree of naturalness, with limited shipping as the only human activity. Its most remarkable feature is the Laptev walrus. It was previously considered an endemic subspecies (Odobenus rosmarus laptevi), but the latest molecular genetic studies have failed to prove its isolation from the Pacific subspecies (O. rosmarus divergens). However, the Laptev walrus is indeed a peculiar population differing from the neighbouring Pacific populations by the absence of long seasonal migrations and the location of wintering grounds.
This area plays an important role in the recruitment of polar cod (Boreogadus saida), which is a key food item for most of the top predators in the High Arctic ecosystem. Laptev polynyas support a chain of colonies dominated by thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia) and black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla). These polynyas are used by birds, in particular, Steller’s eider, during the spring migration period. The Laptev polynya network also sustains stable, high populations of seals, which in turn draw its main predator: the polar bear.

10. Wrangel-Gerald Shallows and Ratmanov Gyre

  • Location: The area extends from the waters around Wrangel Islands, along the midline of De Long Strait to 180 W, then along the 30 m isobaths to Gerald Island, including part of Gerald Trench, and to the latitude somewhat east of Cape Serdtse-Kamen’ at 173 W. The northern boundary conventionally follows the 100 m isobaths. This area lies within the EEZ and territorial sea of the Russian Federation.
  • The Wrangel – Gerald Shallows and Ratmanov Gyre is a shelf area in the Russian part of the Chukchi Sea. Unlike most shelves in the Russian Arctic seas, it is not influenced by the discharge of great Eurasian rivers. Most of the area is filled by water originating from the Bering Sea, which enters through the Bering Strait in seasonal pulses and circulates in the Chukchi Sea. There is a large, stable gyre in the eastern part of this area (known as the Ratmanov Gyre), which stabilizes the conditions, provides a significant supply of nutrients and high primary production that fluxes to the bottom, and is the basis for stable and persistent benthic communities. The biomass of benthic infauna and epifauna is very high. Around Wrangel Island, landfast ice and polynyas are formed. The formation of polynyas off Wrangel Island is a result of the interaction between the Arctic and the Siberian anticyclones. The area is largely untouched by human activities.
This area provides a spring migratory pathway for hundreds of bowhead whales daily, as well as beluga whales, polar bears, Pacific walrus and gray whales during summer and autumn. There are no proven endemic species in the area, however, several species have been described in the Chukchi Sea that are thus far known only in this region. In winter, the polynyas adjacent to Wrangel Island form an area with a high concentration of ringed (Phoca hispida) and bearded (Erignathus barbatus) seals and their predators – polar bears (Ursus maritimus). The area serves as a feeding area for seabirds, walruses and cetaceans.

11. Coastal Waters of Chukotka

  • Location: The area extends from the western and northern extremities of Ayon Island in the East Siberian Sea, includes the Chaun Bay (Chaunskaya Guba, in Russian), Kolyuchin Bay (Kolyuchinskaya Guba, in Russian) and conventionally extends to 35 miles from the typical shore. It lies entirely within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation (internal marine waters of inlets, territorial sea and the EEZ).
  • These waters are covered with ice for most of the year; however, sea ice conditions differ from west to east and from south to north. The coastal Chukchi Sea differs from the seas of the Siberian shelf by its increased pelagic primary production and the flux of carbon to the sea floor. Chaun Bay and other inlets and lagoons harbour kelp communities, which significantly increase productivity in coastal areas compared to most part of the Siberian shelf seas. Benthic biomass in the coastal areas is high in protected bays and inlets. Some communities are particularly rare, i.e., the fucoid communities, kelp and mussel beds along the eastern shore of Chaun Bay, which are relics of the warmer Holocene conditions.
Shallow bays, with their specific regime, and the marshes along the coast serve as staging, moulting and nesting areas for numerous aquatic birds, including eiders, long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis) and alcids. In winter, most of the Chukotka Peninsula coastal zone forms an area of high concentration of ringed (Phoca hispida) and bearded (Erignathus barbatus) seals and their predators: polar bears (Ursus maritimus). The area also serves as a migration route for gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) of the Californian-Chukchi population and bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus).
Table 6.
Description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria in the North-West Atlantic
(Details are provided in the appendix to annex IV of the Report of the North-West Atlantic Regional Workshop to Facilitate the Description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), UNEP/CBD/EBSA/WS/2014/2/4.)
Location and brief description of areas C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

1. Labrador Sea Deep Convection Area

  • Location: This area is located in the central gyre of the deep oceanic basin in the Labrador Sea. The area is not fixed by geographic coordinates; instead it is delineated dynamically according to physical oceanographic properties.
  • The Labrador Sea is a key component of the global ocean circulation system. It is the only site in the North-West Atlantic where deep winter convection serves to exchange surface waters with the deep ocean. In the convection process, seawater constituents, such as carbon dioxide, oxygen and organic carbon, are transported from surface to depth. This area also provides the mid-water overwintering refuge for pre-adult Calanus finmarchicus, which is a keystone species that seeds zooplankton populations on the Labrador Shelf and areas further downstream. Year-to-year variability in ocean-ice-atmosphere interaction leads to strong inter-annual variability in the intensity and extent of convection. However, in the long term, the ongoing warming and freshening of sub-polar surface waters is likely to be a factor leading to weaker convection overall. Consequently, one may expect ecologically significant change in this area to be propagated through the ecosystems of the North-West Atlantic.
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2. Seabird Foraging Zone in the Southern Labrador Sea
  • Location: The area is located in the southern portion of the Labrador Sea, north-east of Newfoundland. The identified seabird habitats span the Canadian EEZ and adjacent pelagic waters, but the area described as meeting the EBSA criteria is restricted to the pelagic portion. The specific areas used by each seabird species are likely to vary seasonally and inter-annually so the area is dynamic in nature.
  • The waters off Newfoundland and Labrador support globally significant populations of marine vertebrates, including an estimated 40 million seabirds annually. A number of recent tracking studies highlight the importance of the southern Labrador Sea, in particular, as foraging habitat for seabirds, including over-wintering black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) thick-billed murres (uria lombia) and, and breeding Leach’s storm petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa). This habitat spans the Orphan Basin in the south to 56(N, covering continental shelf, slope and adjacent offshore waters. While the habitat supporting these seabirds spans the Canadian EEZ and adjacent area beyond national jurisdiction, this description represents the portion located within the pelagic zone, where core foraging and wintering areas for the three seabird species, representing 20 populations, intersect.

3. Orphan Knoll

  • Location: The area is located in the North Atlantic, north of the Flemish Cap, and is rises to depths less than 1800 m from the surface. Orphan Knoll is an irregularly shaped feature with one named seamount adjacent to the south-east. Boundaries were drawn around Orphan Knoll and the small seamount to encompass both features. The 4000 m depth contour was followed to the east, and the 3000 m depth contour was followed to the south and the north-west. To the south-east the boundary connected the 3000 m and 4000 m contours to encompass a small feature near the later. To the west, the depth contours were followed (approx. 2750 m) to capture the slope of the Orphan Knoll between the 3000 m contours to the north and south.
  • The Orphan Knoll provides an island of hard substratum and uniquely complex habitats that rise from the seafloor from the surrounding deep, soft sediments of Orphan Basin. Owing to their isolation, seamounts tend to support endemic populations and unique faunal assemblages. Although Orphan Knoll is close to the adjacent continental slopes, it is much deeper and appears to have a distinctive fauna. Fragile and long-lived corals and sponges have been observed on Orphan Knoll during underwater camera and video surveys. A Taylor Cone circulation has been identified, providing a mechanism for retention of larvae over the feature.
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4. Slopes of the Flemish Cap and Grand Bank

  • Location: The area is delimited by the 600 m and 2500 m bathymetric contours and lies beyond the limit of the Canadian EEZ.
  • The slopes of the Flemish Cap and Grand Bank of Newfoundland contain most of the aggregations of indicator taxa for vulnerable marine ecosystems identified in international waters of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Regulatory Area. This area also includes all the current NAFO closures to protect corals and sponges in their Regulatory Area as well as a component of the Greenland halibut fishery grounds in international waters. It is also the habitat of a number of threatened and listed species. A high biodiversity of marine taxa are found within the boundary of the area described as meeting the EBSA criteria.

5. Southeast Shoal and Adjacent Areas on the Tail of the Grand Bank

  • Location: The area is located at the southern portion of the Grand Bank, south-east of Newfoundland. The area extends from the 200 nm (Canadian EEZ) to the 100 m contour.
  • The Southeast Shoal and adjacent areas (referred to as the “Tail of the Grand Bank”) is a highly productive ecosystem that has sustained a dynamic web of marine life for centuries. The Southeast Shoal is an ancient beach relic that provides a shallow, relatively warm, sandy habitat with a unique offshore capelin-spawning ground. The area also supports a nursery ground for yellowtail flounder, as well spawning areas for depleted American plaice, depleted Atlantic cod and striped wolfish (listed as a species of special concern by Canada's federal Species at Risk Act – SARA). Unique populations of blue mussels and wedge clams are also found here. Due to the presence of abundant forage fish, the “tail” is an important feeding area for a number of cetaceans, including humpback and fin whales, and is frequented by large numbers of seabirds, including species that travel over 15,000 km from breeding sites in the South Atlantic to feed in the area during the non-breeding season.

6. New England and Corner Rise Seamounts

  • Location: The area includes named seamounts in each of the New England and Corner Rise Seamount chains. Given the large distance of about 300 km between the two seamount chains, this area includes separate polygons for these two chains. The New England Seamounts feature extends into the EEZ of the United States of America but the area described here is entirely beyond national jurisdiction.
  • The New England and Corner Rise seamounts are rare islands of hard substratum and uniquely complex habitats that rise from the deep sea into shallow water, in one case to less than 200 m from the surface. Owing to their isolation, seamounts tend to support endemic populations and unique faunal assemblages. Both the New England and Corner Rise seamount chains host complex coral and sponge communities, including numerous endemic species. Benthic diversity is very high relative to the surrounding abyssal areas. Seamount slopes and deeper summit environments (greater than 2000 m from the surface) currently remain free of any direct impacts of human activities, although some of the shallower seamounts have been commercially fished.
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7. Hydrothermal Vent Fields

  • Location: The area follows the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from the Lost City vent fields at 30.125°N 42.1183°W to the Snake Pit vent fields at 23.3683°N 44.95°W. The entire feature is located beyond national jurisdiction.
  • Hydrothermal vents are unique habitats dominated by temperatures much warmer than those of the surrounding deep-sea and characterized by a sulphur-rich chemistry. A small number of endemic taxa are adapted to these otherwise inhospitable environments and can occur at high density and biomass. This area follows the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from the Lost City vent fields and includes the confirmed active Broken Spur and Transverse-Atlantic Geotraverse vents. The Lost City vent field is estimated to have been active for more than 30,000 years and has unique characteristics, being a low temperature vent with high alkalinity.
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Table 7.
Description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria in the Mediterranean
(Details are provided in the appendix to annex IV of the Report of the Mediterranean Regional Workshop to Facilitate the Description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), UNEP/CBD/EBSA/WS/2014/3/4.)
Location and brief description of areas C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7

1. Northern Adriatic

  • Location: Part of the Northern Adriatic Basin, off the coasts of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. The area is roughly delimited by the 9 m isobaths, encompassing the area above the straight line linking Ancona (Conero) and the island of Ilovik. The area is located in the northern part of the North Adriatic Sea Basin, with an average depth of 35 m and is strongly influenced by the Po river plume.
  • It includes mobile sandy bottoms, seagrass meadows, hard bottom associations and unique rocky outcrops called “trezze” and “tegnue”. The area is important for several threatened species. It hosts a population of the highest density of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in the Mediterranean, it is one of the most important feeding grounds in the Mediterranean of the Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and it is a nursery area for a number of vulnerable species (blue shark (Prionace glauca), sandbar shark (Carcharinus plumbeus), anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus), etc.). The area hosts a strong diversity of benthic and pelagic habitats due to an important gradient of environmental factors from its western portion to its eastern coasts. It is also one of the most productive areas in the Mediterranean Sea.

2. Jabuka/Pomo Pit

  • Location: The area encompassing three distinct, adjacent depressions, with maximum depths of ca. 270, respectively. The area extends 4.5 nautical miles from the 200 m isobath. The area encompassing the adjacent depressions, the Jabuka (or Pomo) Pit is situated in the Middle Adriatic Sea and has a maximum depth of 200 – 260 m.
  • It is a sensitive and critical spawning and nursery zone for important Adriatic demersal resources, especially European hake (Merluccius merluccius). This area hosts the largest populations of Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) and is important especially for juveniles in the depths over 200 m. Based on available scientific data it is a high density area for the giant devil ray (Mobula mobular), an endemic species listed on Annex II SPA/BD protocol and listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. The Pit could function as a favourable environment for some key life history stages of the porbeagle shark, and Lamna nasus, which is critically endangered (IUCN 2007), and both of which are listed on Annex II SPA/BD Protocol. Regarding benthic species, several types of corals can be found (Scleractinia and Actiniaria).

3. South Adriatic Ionian Straight

  • Location: The area is located in the centre of the southern part of the Southern Adriatic basin and in the northern part of the Ionian Sea. It includes the deepest part of the Adriatic Sea on the western side and it encompasses a coastal area in Albania (Sazani Island and Karaburuni peninsula). It also covers the slopes in near Santa Maria di Leuca. The area is located in the centre of the southern part of the Southern Adriatic basin and the northern Ionian Sea.
  • It is characterized by steep slopes, high salinity and a maximum depth ranging between 200 m to 1500 m. Water exchange with the Mediterranean Sea takes place through the Otranto Channel, which has a sill that is 800 m deep. This area contains important habitats for Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris), an Annex II species of the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA/BD Protocol) in the framework of Barcelona Convention, and significant densities of other megafauna such as the giant devil ray (Mobula mobular), striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) and loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), all of which are listed in Annex II of SPA/BD Protocol. Benthos includes deep-sea cold-water coral communities and deep-sea sponge aggregations, representing important biodiversity reservoirs and contributing to the trophic recycling of organic matter. Tuna, swordfish and sharks are also common in this area.

6. North-western Mediterranean Pelagic Ecosystems

  • Location: The area is located from the southern Balearic Islands to the Ligurian Sea, including the Gulf of Lion and some part of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
  • The area is characterized by a set of geomorphological and oceanographic characteristics that enable it to host comparatively exceptional levels of species diversity and abundance. The oceanography of the water masses in the area is at the base of its productivity and extraordinary biological and ecological significance. For some groups of large pelagics, including tuna and tuna-like species, the western Mediterranean represents an important area for reproduction and feeding. Marine turtles (Caretta caretta and Dermochelys coriacea) from the Atlantic as well as C. caretta from the eastern and central Mediterranean are distributed in the northern part of the island and the Catalan sea. The Balearic Islands represent an area of contact between the two turtle populations. The area also includes ca. 63 Important Bird Areas, with important populations of the endemic Balearic Shearwater and Audouin’s Gull.

North-western Mediterranean Benthic Ecosystems

  • Location: The area is located off the coasts of Italy, Monaco, France and Spain. The depth range of the area is around 2500 m and cover a surface of 196 000 km2.
  • The area is both representative of the peculiarities of the western basin in terms of oceanographic conditions, geomorphology and ecosystems that harbour singular trophic webs. With its wide variety of features on the seafloor, shelf and slope, the area hosts a unique diversity of habitats of relevant conservation interest starting from the mediolittoral until the bathyal zone, and a significant biodiversity, characterized by engineer species (species that modify their environment). Most of these species and habitat are vulnerable and characterized by low resilience.

Sicilian Channel

  • Location: The Sicilian Channel is located between the island of Sicily and Tunisia, where Pantelleria (Italy), Pelagie Islands and Lampedusa (Italy), and Malta, Gozo and Comino Islands (Malta) are located.
  • In this area, there is exchange of water masses and organisms between the west and east Mediterranean basins. In the wider area of the channel, significant ecological and biological components coexist spatially in a relatively limited area, which is considered a biodiversity hotspot within the Mediterranean. Seamounts and deep-sea corals are found close to Sicily, including mounds of white corals, which are vulnerable species and provide valuable habitat for a number of other species. The complex oceanographic conditions in this area lead to a high degree of productivity and provide good conditions for fish spawning, making the Sicilian Channel an important spawning ground for a number of commercially important fish species, including bluefin tuna, swordfish and anchovy, as well as a number of demersal fish species. The area is also believed to be an important nursery area for the endangered white shark. The Sicilian Channel is thought to be the last important habitat for the critically endangered Maltese skate.

9. Gulf of Gabès

  • Location: The Gulf of Gabès has a linear coastline 626 km long, represented by three large geomorphological units: (1) the area contains a great diversity of coastal formations (sabhkas (salt flats), beaches, lagoons, dunes and wetlands) and coastal ecosystems (oases, wadis and communities of unique vegetation); (2) the marine area delimited by Ras Kaboudia to the north, to the south by the border with Libya, and to the East by the 50-m isobath. A variety of island ecosystems is found there, the most important of which are the Djerba, Kerkennah and Kneiss islands. (3) the Gulf de Gabès region, representing 33 per cent of the Tunisian coast.
  • The shoreline of the Gulf of Gabès is characterized by low-lying sandy, sandy/muddy or even swampy coasts. The Gulf of Gabès is a Mediterranean nursery and incubator, and the biocenosis of Posidonia oceanica is considered the largest in the world. Posidonia oceanica seagrass forms the most characteristic and important marine ecosystem in the Gulf of Gabès and is threatened in several ways. The seagrass meadows in the Gulf of Gabès are the largest in the Mediterranean. Most of the benthic communities associated with seagrass in the Mediterranean are represented in this area. The height of the tides in the Gulf of Gabès is unique in the Mediterranean, where this phenomenon is practically non-existent. The vertical amplitude of the mesolittoral zone is exceptional, with a unique biological diversity and diversified fauna. The number of species inventoried in the Gulf of Gabès stands at 1,658, accounting for 14.8 per cent of all species identified in the Mediterranean. Invertebrates are the most highly represented, with about 68 per cent of the specific diversity being found in the Gulf of Gabès. In view of its special biological, biogeographical and climatological features, this area is considered a living laboratory for observing the possible consequences and impacts of climate change in other regions of the Mediterranean in the future.

10. Gulf of Sirte

  • Location: The area comprises around 750 km of coastline and includes the marine area between Misurata and Benghazi, which hosts the southernmost sandy beaches in the Mediterranean Coast.
  • The Gulf of Sirte is a very large natural area in the southern Mediterranean coast, entirely located in Libya’s national jurisdiction. Its naturalness provides excellent coastal habitats for the reproduction of several endangered or threatened species such loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) and lesser crested terns (Sterna bengalensis emigrata). The area is of great importance for life-history stages, conservation and productivity of large numbers of pelagic species, such bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) and many Chondrichthyan fish species, including many of the ones listed as endangered and threatened species within the Barcelona Convention Annex II. One of the six spawning areas of bluefin tuna is included in this area.

11. Nile Delta Fan

  • Location: Located in the southern Levantine Sea, the area includes the continental shelf and slope off the Nile Delta and Sinai Peninsula.
  • The ecological and biological significance of the Nile Delta Fan (NDF) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea stems from the area’s geological features and natural phenomena (Nile silt sedimentation, physical and biological oceanographic and climatic characteristics). Important geomorphological features are also located in the area, including highly active cold seeps, canyons (Alexandria canyon), a fan, an escarpment and a continental shelf. Knowledge of deep-sea benthic habitats in this area is scarce, however it is known that there are unique habitats related to gas hydrocarbon chemosymbiotic communities in this area. The area is home to vulnerable ecosystems composed of endemic molluscs and polychaete species. In addition, deep-sea coral communities are also predicted to be present in the area. The biodiversity index in the area is quite high (38 out of 50), as the area is home to major components of pelagic and benthic communities. Small pelagic fisheries are very important, as is the bluefin tuna fishery; furthermore the NDF is known as one of the few spawning grounds in the Mediterranean Sea for bluefin tuna. Furthermore due to its productivity, pelagic species and marine turtles aggregate in feeding grounds in the shelf portion of the area, which are also used as breeding areas for birds.

12. East Levantine Canyons (ELCA)

  • Location: The East Levantine Canyons is located all along the Lebanese and Syrian coastline. The East Levantine Canyons is a system composed of deep canyons, as well as hydrothermal vents and submarine freshwater springs, and is of particular biological importance. The coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean host one of the largest areas of Opisthobranch formations, and its waters experience the highest winter temperatures, allowing it to act as a refuge and spawning ground for many biologically important species of chondrichthyes, marine mammals, reptiles and teleosts (many of which are listed as vulnerable/endangered on the IUCN Red List).
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13. North-East Levantine Sea

  • Location: The area is located in the North-East Levantine Sea, between Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Syria.
  • The area includes important biological features. It contains spawning grounds of bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), endangered species such as loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus). The near threatened Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii) and the endemic Mediterranean subspecies of European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii) are also present in the area.
M H H M - - -

14. Akamas and Chrysochou Bay

  • Location: The area contains two sites: Akamas and Polis/Yialia. The coastal stretch of the Akamas site is on the west and north-west coast of the island. The marine component of the Polis-Yialia site stretches from a practically uniform sandy or sandy/pebbly beach to the 50 m isobath.
  • The Akamas includes important nesting beaches for green and loggerhead turtles and the adjacent caves on the rocky shore in which monk seals rest and breed. It includes Vermetus (Dendropoma) reefs and extensive Posidonia meadows. The Lara/Toxeftra Turtle Reserve, on the west coast of the island, is within a Natura 2000 site and a SPAMI area under the Barcelona Convention. The Polis-Yialia site is important for loggerhead turtle mating and nesting, for mating and for foraging of juvenile and adult green turtles, as well as for the existence of extensive Posidonia meadows.
H H H H - M M

15. Hellenic Trench

  • Location: The area is contained in part in the Central Mediterranean sub-region (Eastern Ionian Sea), and in part in the Eastern Mediterranean sub-region (Levantine Sea). The area extends from the Greek Ionian islands to the south of Crete and further to the north-east towards the south-west coast of Anatolia
  • The area is a major feature of the seafloor connecting the Central to the Eastern Mediterranean. Due to its geomorphological conditions, it is important for the survival of threatened, deep-diving marine mammals in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Additionally, due to the specific oceanographic conditions of the eastern part of the area (Rhodos Gyre) it contributes to the biological productivity of the north-east Levantine Sea, which has an extremely oligotrophic background.
H H H H H - -

16. Central Aegean Sea

  • Location: The area extends from Babakale (on the Turkish mainland, north of the Greek island of Lesbos) across the Aegean Sea to the west, including the island of Skiros. The western limit extends southward along the Attica shoreline to the uninhabited island of Falkonera, then follows the southern islands of the Kyklades archipelago, along the Hellenic Volcanic arc until Rhodes. It follows the northern shoreline of Rhodes until the Turkish coastline. The Turkish coastline forms the eastern limit of the area.
  • The Central Aegean Sea is characterized by an extensive archipelago of hundreds of small islands and bays that form a variety of habitats hosting a rich biodiversity. Important biological and ecological characteristics include the presence of vulnerable habitats such as seagrass beds and coralligenous grounds, which provide habitats and highly important reproduction areas for a number of rare or vulnerable species (e.g. the monk seal, various bird species, cetaceans, and sharks). Unique geomorphological features in the area include hydrothermal vents, brine seeps, and submarine volcanoes. Owing to the area’s high biodiversity and the presence of many vulnerable species, many sites are legally protected.

17. North Aegean

  • Location: The area described is in the North Aegean Sea within the national jurisdictions of Greece and Turkey as well as in waters beyond national jurisdiction.
  • The area is highly productive due to the input of trans-frontal river waters, upwellings and the input of nutrient-rich water from the Black Sea. The area includes some of the most important fishery grounds of the Aegean Sea. Rare species of cetaceans and corals are found in the area, as well as one of the largest marine parks of the Mediterranean, which supports an important Mediterranean monk seal population.

127The designations employed and the presentation of material in this note do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
128Report and documentation available at:
129Report and documentation available at:
130Report and documentation available at:
131Report and documentation available at:
132 Report and documentation available at:
133 Report and documentation available at:
134Report and documentation available at:
135For the areas 11, 12, 13, 14 and 18 in this table, Peru plans to undertake additional scientific and technical analysis of the areas described as meeting the EBSA criteria with a view to identifying the areas meeting the EBSA criteria and as applicable, to make this information available once the analysis is completed and subject to the adoption of a national position in this respect.