7 July 2006
International monk seal conference set for September
An international conference on Mediterranean monk seal conservation is to be held in Antalya, Turkey on 14-16 September 2006. Unlike previous gatherings of this type, however, this meeting will also focus on the political, legal and financial issues that affect the management and recovery of the species.
The meeting, organised by UNEP’s Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), based in Tunis, was officially announced on 4 July.
Held under the UNEP/MAP banner, with support of the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forests, the conference is taking place as an integral part of the inaugural Med Blue Week, an event called to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Barcelona Convention, the international agreement that brought both the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) and the Mediterranean Monk Seal Action Plan into being.
MAP has been facing increasingly harsh criticism of late, with critics pointing out that it has failed to achieve even one of its priority targets during the last 30 years – including its stated intention in 1985 to assure protection of the monk seal within a decade.
Collaborating in the organisation of the conference, according to RAC/SPA, is the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Turkish NGO SAD-AFAG, the Bern Convention, the Bonn Convention, Monaco and Italy. As noted in previous issues of TMG, IFAW has expressed a willingness to become more fully engaged in international monk seal conservation of late. Recently quoted IFAW discussion papers apparently confirm that intention, stating that: “the species still faces serious threats throughout its range, and IFAW, with its in-house expertise and experience, is well positioned to play a leadership role in co-ordinating conservation and animal welfare efforts to enhance its protection."
Perhaps in view of previous criticism facing MAP – and in recognition of a recent declaration by a Barcelona Convention meeting in Slovenia that the fate of the Plan is inexorably intertwined with the fate of the monk seal – this conference is firmly targeting two potential obstacles to conservation ‘Action’: international coordination (political, organisational) and funding.
While Day 1 of the draft agenda is devoted to regional experiences – such as Greece and Turkey, and the Atlantic area, where a Regional Action Plan under the auspices of the Bonn Convention has been solidifying among the range states (Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Portugal-Madeira) – Day 2 is expressly aimed at the institutional, legal and financial aspects of Mediterranean monk seal conservation.
Sessions include discussion on:
- The possibilities of linking the developing Regional Action Plan for the Atlantic with the action plan in the Mediterranean (hence the collaboration of the Bonn Convention).
- The creation of a coordination and follow-up mechanism, such as a steering committee.
- The establishment of an international coordination plan in support of monk seal conservation.
- The presentation of concrete project proposals according to approved priorities.
- Alternative financing mechanisms and the possible establishment of an international monk seal fund.
Called at very short notice due to organisational and funding complications, it is not clear at present whether all of monk seal conservation’s key players will be able to attend the conference. TMG has learned that some have already undertaken to attend the schedule-clashing Sixth European Seminar on Marine Mammals, held in Valencia, Spain, during the same period.
We hope to provide updates on the conference as they become available.
RAC/SPA. 2006. Conference on Monk Seal Conservation. First announcement. Med Blue Week. Antalya, 14/16 September 2006, Majesty Mirage Park - Kemer, Antalya – Turkey. [PDF 300 KB]
RAC/SPA. 2005. Portoroz Declaration. 14th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols, Portoroz (Slovenia), 8-11 November 2005. UNEP(DEPI)/MED IG.16/13, Annex V: 1-5. [PDF 273 KB]
RAC/SPA. 2005. Progress report of the activities of RAC/SPA. Seventh Meeting of National Focal Points for SPAs, Seville, 31 May - 3 June 2005. UNEP/MAP, UNEP(DEC)/MED WG.268/4: 1-37. [PDF 449 KB]
RAC/SPA. 2005. Evaluation of the Mediterranean monk seal status. Meeting of MAP Focal Points, Athens (Greece), 21-24 September 2005. UNEP/MAP, UNEP(DEC)/MED WG.270/Inf.22: 1-7. [PDF 127 KB]
RAC/SPA. 2005. Information report on the status of the monk seal in the Mediterranean. Prepared for the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA) by Dr. Daniel Cebrian. Seventh Meeting of National Focal Points for SPAs, Seville, 31 May - 3 June 2005. UNEP/MAP, UNEP(DEC)/MED WG.268/Inf.3: 1-45. [PDF 208 KB]
RAC/SPA. 2005. Declaration on the monk seal risk of extinction in the Mediterranean. Meeting of MAP Focal Points, Athens (Greece), 21-24 September 2005. UNEP/MAP, UNEP(DEC)/MED WG.270/17: 1-3. [PDF 77KB]
RAC/SPA. 2003. The conservation of the Mediterranean monk seal: proposal of priority activities to be carried out in the Mediterranean sea. Sixth meeting of the National Focal Points for Specially Protected Areas, Marseilles, 17-20 June 2003: 1-45. [PDF 143 KB]
RAC/SPA. 2003. Progress report of the activities of RAC/SPA. Report on the activities carried out by RAC/SPA since the fifth meeting of National Focal Points for Specially Protected Areas. Sixth meeting of the National Focal Points for Specially Protected Areas, Marseilles, 17-20 June 2003: 1-29. [PDF 124KB]
UNEP/MAP. 1987. Action plan for the management of the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus). United Nations Environment Programme, Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP). Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas, Tunis, Tunis & Athens. [PDF 306KB]
TMG. 2003. Mystery at RAC/SPA – Time for pup-catching, says its anonymous expert(s). The Monachus Guardian 6 (2): December 2003.
Triantafillou, K. Mediterranean governments vow protection for the Mediterranean monk seal – Success or failure of efforts to be a “defining moment” for the future of the Mediterranean Action Plan. The Monachus Guardian 9 (1): June 2006.