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Marine and Coastal Invasives


Our mandate can be found in CBD decisions VI/23 1/ and VII/5.  Decision VI/23 2/ paragraph 26(e) requested the Executive Secretary, in collaboration with the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) and other relevant organizations, to develop a joint programme of work on invasive alien species (IAS). Similarly, activity (a) under operational objective 5.2 in the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity (decision VII/5, annex I), refers to the development of an international cooperative initiative to address impediments to the management of marine (and coastal) invasive alien species (MIAS), particularly to address technical problems related to the identification and control of marine invasions.

UNEP Governing council 22/2 IIIA (2003) decided to utilize the Regional Seas Programme (UNEP-RSP) as a platform for the regional implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA's) and global programmes and initiatives, strengthen links, cooperation and coordination with International Organizations (such as IMO, UNESCO-IOC, FAO, IAEA), and support cooperation on MEAs. Furthermore, one of the Regional Seas Strategic Directions for 2004-2007 calls for: Increase the use of Regional Seas as a platform for developing common regional objectives, promoting synergies and co-ordinated regional implementation of relevant MEAs, global and regional initiatives, and responsibilities of United Nations Agencies and other international actors, as a contribution to the sustainable management of the coastal and marine environment.


Regional Seas programmes function through action plans, which are adopted by member governments in order to establish a comprehensive strategy and framework for protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development. Most of the Regional Seas programmes have also adopted legally-binding conventions that express the commitment and political will of governments to tackle their common environmental issues through joint coordinated activities. Most conventions have added protocols, which are legal agreements addressing specific issues such as protected areas or land-based pollution

Regional Seas programmes provide an ideal platform for implementation of IAS measures. IAS issues could be incorporated into the agreements by means of a technical annex to a protocol, which would have to be approved by the Contracting Parties or members of a programme. A number of the Regional Seas programmes either have relevant articles on IAS in their Conventions or Protocols, or have already embarked on developing strategies/activities on IAS:

  • South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) – currently developing a Biosecurity Strategy
  • Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) – the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) contains an article on the introduction of non-indigenous species, and the Contracting Parties have requested that CEP develop a programme on invasive species in the Caribbean, in collaboration with other organisations and agreements including the CBD.
  • ROPME – IMO/GloBallast phase 1 included Kharg island, IR Iran as demonstration site, and ROPME has adopted the Regional Action Plan to minimize the transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens in Ships’ Ballast Waters
  • The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) – have a Regional Action Plan concerning Species Introductions and Invasive Species in the Mediterranean Sea, adopted in 2003.
  • The Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) for the Baltic Sea programme – developing a regional action plan (in progress) to address ballast water, as a follow-up to the adoption in IMO of the Ballast Water Convention. HELCOM is also working towards close co-operation with the North Sea region on this issue.
  • The Black Sea Commission – the Black Sea Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Protocol (2002) is being ratified by the BS coastal states. Article 5 to this protocol addresses the issue of intentional and unintentional introduction of non-indigenous species or genetically modified organisms.



Joint Workshop on MIAS

UNEP-RSP, CBD and GISP jointly organized a workshop on the development of a joint Work Programme on MIAS from 27-29 June 2005 in Montreal, Canada, hosted by the CBD Secretariat.

The workshop was attended by representatives from four Regional Seas programmes (Pacific, Mediterranean, Caribbean and ROPME regions) and partner organizations including IUCN, WWF, TNC and RAMSAR Convention. Absent were FAO and IMO. The representatives of the Regional Seas programmes presented their past, current and future activities on MIAS.

Some concrete recommendations for UNEP-RSP from the workshop are:

  • From 4 working groups, the need was identified to assess the current need and capacity within the different Regional Seas programmes on MIAS
  • The Regional Seas programmes were identified as possible existing platforms, both institutional and legal, for assisting in implementing and coordinating activities on MIAS in the regions (this has do be done on a case to case basis)
  • UNEP-RSP was also identified to play a role in awareness raising on this issue
  • UNEP-RSP could support GISP for the preparation of a (global) Information kit on MIAS
  • Include MIAS in UNEP-RSP activities on Marine Litter (ML is a vector for MIAS)
  • Consider supporting GISP in developing more specialized training courses on specific MIAS issues, using the general training course as starting point and to pilot these in several Regional Seas
  • Consider the possibility of supporting (financially) some regions (such as the Caribbean) in regional activities on MIAS, such as implementing the training course that UNEP-RSP and GISP developed.
  • Subsequently, following a procedure identified by the workshop, the results of the workshop discussions were consolidated into a comprehensive assessment of status and further proposed activities that will form a basis for future collaborative efforts amongst relevant organizations. A Draft Joint Work Plan for the Management of MIAS was also developed.
  • The outcomes of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Gaps and Inconsistencies in the International Regulatory Framework in Relation to Invasive Alien Species at its tenth meeting (Auckland May 2005; UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/11/INF/4) was fed into this workshop.

The report of the workshop and the Draft Joint Work Plan were presented, as INF document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/11/INF/10 – Towards the Development of a Joint Work Plan for the Management of MIAS, to the Eleventh meeting of the CBD SBSTTA held in Montréal from 28 November-2 December 2005. Consultations with relevant agencies are currently being undertaken regarding the content of the draft joint work plan, prior to final agreement on its content.


Training Course on the Management of MIAS

UNEP-RSP and GISP jointly developed a training course on the management MIAS. The objective of this joint activity is to support the integration of IAS issues into existing marine and coastal programmes, implemented through the different Regional Seas programmes, by customising the existing GISP generic IAS training course to focus specifically on MIAS.
A pilot Training was held in Tanzania to test the Training Toolkit. The training was attended by participants from all the contracting parties to the Nairobi Convention (East Africa), which included scientists, managers and representatives from ports authorities. An independent evaluator attended the course and asked the participants to evaluate all the different modules of the course, as well as the overall course. Using these evaluations, the toolkit will be amended and finalized and then used for implementation in other Regional Seas.


Awareness on MIAS

UNEP-RSP, CBD and GISP are jointly developing a brochure on MIAS and the RSP within the context of the CBD mandate, aimed at increasing the information and awareness on MIAS and on the role of CBD, GISP and UNEP-RSP, and to use this product as a possible aid in fundraising.


MIAS in the Caribbean

UNEP-RSP is currently supporting the CAR RCU to develop a programme for MIAS in the Wider Caribbean. The outputs of this project include:

- Compilation of information on national and regional capacities and experiences on MIAS management programmes in the Wider Caribbean, including ballast waters management;
- Adaptation, as necessary, of the joint UNEP/GISP/CBD MIAS training manual to the Wider Caribbean, following the findings of the above compilation and of training experiences in other regions, with a view of fundraising and conducting a training course for the region in 2006;
- Publication of awareness material(s) on MIAS issues, using as models/examples useful materials from other regions.


VI/23 1/

One representative entered a formal objection during the process leading to the adoption of this decision and underlined that he did not believe that the Conference of the Parties could legitimately adopt a motion or a text with a formal objection in place. A few representatives expressed reservations regarding the procedure leading to the adoption of the decision. See UNEP/CBD/COP/6/20, paras. 294-324.

VI/23 2/