North-East Atlantic threatened species left in the lurch

Press Release Date: June 29, 2015

Location: Ostende


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

North-East Atlantic countries have adopted recommendations for the management of four threatened species and habitats: blue mussel beds, allis shad, sea lamprey and Azorean limpet. The decisions were taken at the annual meeting of the OSPAR Commission, which closed on Friday in Ostend (Belgium), and will finally extend protection to these vulnerable animals, which have all been listed as threatened since 2004. While recognising this step forwards, Oceana deplores the slow process followed by OSPAR Contracting Parties, who had committed to adopt recommendations by 2013 for all listed species and habitats.

The current OSPAR process is inherently flawed. The long delay between when 42 species and 16 habitats were listed as threatened, and the actual development of management measures has left some of them unprotected by OSPAR for years. Additionally, no new species or habitats have been added to the list since it was last reviewed in 2008.

“Listing species and habitats as threatened is only the first step, and the failure to follow through with actual measures is unacceptable. More than ten years after they were formally identified as threatened, six key species and habitats, including Atlantic salmon or mudflats, remain without any OSPAR management measures whatsoever,” stated Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe. “OSPAR must rectify this process, so that it delivers the necessary conservation measures, not just a list.”

The OSPAR Commission is responsible for the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic , and it comprises 15 Contracting Parties and the European Commission. In recent years, several recommendations to manage threatened species and deep-sea habitats have notably been submitted by NGOs – including Oceana – rather than by governments. As an observer to OSPAR, Oceana drafted this year’s proposal for management of the Azorean limpet (Patella aspera), a species endemic to the Macaronesian region (Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands).