Review of threats and implementation of the Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Mammals in the Wider Caribbean Region
The Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Mammals in the Wider Caribbean Region (MMAP) was adopted in 2008 by Contracting Parties under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) of the Cartagena Convention, administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment). After more than a decade of MMAP-related programmatic work under SPAW, this paper presents a synthesis of major threats to marine mammals in the Region and an assessment of progress achieved by the 17 Contracting Parties to the SPAW Protocol toward achieving implementation of the MMAP and based upon a scientific and technical analysis conducted in 2020. The country assessment focused on 11 threat categories (indicators), along with two additional indicators relating to country legislation and national action plans. As part of this scientific and technical analysis, surveys were sent to SPAW Contracting Party focal points and individual interviews were conducted with key regional organizations and experts. For every SPAW Contracting Party, each indicator was assigned a relative level of its current intensity (Low, Moderate, High, or Unknown). A similar scheme was utilized to represent each country’s response to that threat. The results highlighted those threats that were of concern for several countries and hence may be considered a management priority at the regional scale. In terms of threat mitigation, these priorities are: interaction between marine mammals and fisheries, pollution, and acoustic disturbance. Regarding needs, the development of national marine mammal action plans, as well as the implementation of research and monitoring programmes dedicated to marine mammals, should be considered a priority. Finally, two threats were found to be of high priority for knowledge enhancement: acoustic disturbance and vessel strikes. It is important to note that this review was not intended to single out insufficient country effort, but rather assist Wider Caribbean countries to identify threats and/or issue areas which would benefit from attention.
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