Growing public concern in the early 1980s led UNEP and FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) to draw up a Global Plan of Action for Marine Mammals (MMAP). The central goal of the plan was to bring governments together to agree and harmonize their policies for marine mammal conservation.
Since the establishment of the MMAP, UNEP has played the role its secretariat. Currently it is the Regional Seas Programme Coordinating Unit (RSCU) in Nairobi which handles marine mammal related activities within UNEP. UNEP considers reviewing the MMAP and specifically UNEPs role in the global efforts on marine mammal conservation. The purpose of this process is to develop synergies in order to be more responsive to the present global and regional situation, to build on existing initiatives and programmes and to try and address the specific needs of the individual Regional Seas programmes in the field of marine mammals.
UNEPs current goal is to support Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) such as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and its Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea , the Mediterranean and the Contiguous Atlantic (ACCOBAMS), or other organizations such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). UNEP's support consists of various contributions to meetings, publications or other products, and to the individual Regional Seas programmes where marine mammal issues are identified as a regional priority.
In the past, within the context of MMAP, UNEP has worked to build technical and institutional capacity in marine mammal conservation and management in several Regional Seas programmes, particularly those of Latin America and the Caribbean , Eastern Africa , Southeast Pacific, West and Central Africa , the Black Sea and South-East Asia . Several Regional Seas have incorporated marine mammal conservation into their action plans and protocols: such plans exist for monk seals and cetaceans in the Mediterranean ; marine mammals in the South-East Pacific; and West Indian manatees in the Caribbean .
Protocols covering marine mammals have been developed in the Mediterranean , South-East Pacific, Wider Caribbean and Eastern Africa regions. These vary, but may include development of regional and national management plans for threatened species, research and monitoring programmes and establishment of marine parks and protected areas.
As part of the implementation, certain Regional Seas programmes have established regional action plans dealing specifically with marine mammals. Notably, the Mediterranean has adopted action plans for the Mediterranean monk seal and cetaceans. The South-East Pacific has an Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Mammals in the region; and the Caribbean Environment Programme has a Regional Management Plan for the West Indian Manatee.
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• Marine Mammals action plan part 1
• Marine Mammals action plan part 2
• Marine Mammals action plan part 3
• Marine Mammals action plan part 4
• Marine Mammals action plan part 5
• Marine Mammals action plan part 6
UNEP Governing Council Decision 21/28 on the Marine Mammal Action Plan