Action Plan For The Management Of The Mediterranean Monk Seal

Filename: 1985-ActionPlanManagementMediterraneanMonkSeal.EN.txt

Action Plan For The Management Of The Mediterranean Monk Seal



1. The parties to the Barcelona Convention included among their priority targets to be achieved by 1995 the protection of the Mediterranean monk seal (Genoa, 9-13 September 1985).

2. The population of the Mediterranean monk seal have declined rapidly and drastically. Concerted and effective action by all the countries of the Mediterranean concerned is required in order to reverse this trend.

3. Many important aspects of the monk seal's biology and behaviour are too poorly known to plan a complete management strategy for the species, but so few seals are left that research on them has become very difficult. The situation is too critical to put off action any longer. Plans must be made using the best data available, and then adjusted if necessary as more information is obtained. Action must be taken now.

4.Proposals from various sources which could help to save the Mediterranean monk seal from extinction are included. Scientific opinion is divided as to what is appropriate or unwise. Some risk to the seals involved. The species is known to be sensitive, and its reactions to close observation or capture are uncertain. However, for a species in danger of extinction the risk of doing nothing may be even greater and may justify active intervention as a last resort. such actions should be undertaken only, after every effort has been made to evaluate and minimize the risks involved.

5. The major threats to the monk seal are deliberate or accidental killings of adults mostly by fishermen; and human disturbance of breeding areas. Both have increased as men and seals compete for increasingly scarce resources(fish and remote coastal areas).The first priority is the preservation of remnant populations of the monk seal. The challenge is then to find that delicate balance between the biological requirements of the monk seal and human uses of the Mediterranean and its resources that will allow the species to recover to a viable population level.

6.This Action Plan for the management ofthe Mediterraneanmonk seal outlines bothimmediate andlonger-term actions which,if taken together may succeed in reducing pressures enough to permit gradual recovery. No one action by itself is enough. The different components of the management plan are mutuallyreinforcing andmust be takentogether to havea chance of success.

Reduction in adult mortality

7. Anurgent information campaignamong fishermen in allareas where the seal occursmust aim to neutralizetheir antagonism to themonk seal and win their support for protective measures.

8.Governments shouldencouragethe co-existenceof fishermenand monk sealsby developingprogrammeswhichregulate andcontrolfishing activitiesand provideadditional facilitiesand opportunitiesto local fishermen communities.

9. Governments should ensurestrict enforcement of regulations prohibiting the useof dynamitefor fishing operation,the carrying offire-arms in boats andthe use of any otherillegal fishing techniques endangering the monk seal.

10. Improved fishing netsshould be developed which seals cannot damage or become entangled in, andfishermen should receive the assistance necessary toconvertto usingsuchnets.Research isneededon techniquesfor repellingseals fromfishingequipment andfishing areas.

11.States thathave not yetextented legalprotected to themonk seal should do so at once. 12.Governmentsare stronglyurgedto ensurethat existingprotective measures are enforced.

Establishment of a network of marine reserves

13.All countries thatstill havebreeding monk sealpopulations should make immediateefforts for the stringentprotection of the remaining seal breedingsites, byisolatingseals fromincompatible humanactivities.

14.Aninventory ofcavesallaround theMediterraneanis neededto identify breedingcaves for inclusion in anetwork of protected areas for monk seals. Such work has already been carried out for sites like sardinia, Greece (Nothern Sporades), Tunisia (Galite) and should be expanded to cover other areas.

15. Anetworkof marinereserves shouldbecreated acrossthe Mediterranean, covering both existingand potential monk seal habitats, so spaced that they canbe gradually repopulated as other protective measures take effect and thepopulation recovers. Monk seal reserves should protect suitablecavesorotherbreedingandrestingareas,andshouldbe surrounded by a bufferzone of 40 kilometers covering major fishing areas. Fishing withnets or othertechniques known to threatenor conflict with the sealsshould be prohibitedor controlled in thebuffer zone. Coastal development shouldbe restrictedto compatible activities,and intensive tourist development should be avoided in these zones.

16. Tourist visits or other human disturbance of breeding and resting sites should becarefully regulated,it should becompletely prohibited during the seal breeding season and while the pups are young.

Research, data collection and rehabilitation

17.Allcountriesshould encourageanintensiveprogrammeofdata collection onseal biology andecology and the interactionof seals with fisheries.The latterresearch shouldinclude economicand sociological aspects. Research should beconducted so as not to increase the threats to any seal population.

18.The establishment ofnational networksof observers isan extremely effective wayof determining which areasare of particular importance for the seals. The exact numbers of seals in these areas can then be determined by intensivestudy using,for example, "camera traps".Sighting of seals shouldbereportedtoappropriatenationalbodiesoffocalpoints.

19.Allinformationobtainedonthespecies shouldbecompiledand evaluatedon aregionalbasis, possiblybyan expertgroup underthe auspicesoftheCoordinatingunitoftheMediterraneanActionPlan (UNEP/MEDU,Athens) andbe distributedthrough itsinformation exchange network.

20.A smallnumberof rescuecentres shouldbe establishedto receive woundedseals andabandoned pups.When theyhave recoveredthese seals should be released inprotected areas, preferably in the region where they were originally found. The survival of these animas and the contribution to the wild population should be carefully assessed.

21.Ifall otherattemptstoreverse thespecies'decline fail,the following measuresshould be considered:captive breeding;translocation of isolated,non-reproducing individuals to betterprotected groups; and thetransferofpupsfromhealthycoloniestoundersizedornewly establishedones.Allappropriateprecautions toensuretheadequate welfare of the animalsand adherence to international agreements should be taken.

22.Apilotprojecttodeterminethe practicalfeasibilityofsuch programmesmay beappropriate if itdoes notincrease the risksto the remainingwildpopulation.The valueofsuchaprogrammeforthe conservation of thestocks concerned should alsobe assessed.

Information programmes

23. Aninformation programme for fishermenand fishing communities should aimat reducingthe killingof sealsand encouraging reportingof seal sightingsand otherobservations totheappropriate focalpoint.

24.Special informationactivities shouldbe developed fortourists and touristsand the touristindustry inareas where tourismthreatens seal breeding areas.

25.Information materialsshouldbe producedfor militaryauthorities, industrial developers and the shipping industry concerning actions they can take for monk seal conservation.

26. A widespread campaign for the protection of the Mediterranean monk seal shouldencouragepublicsupportfor conservationmeasures.

27.Training programmesshould bedeveloped for protectedarea managers responsible for monk seal reserves.

Co-ordination, Review and Finance

28. The Coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), Mr. Aldo Manos, agreed that the UNEP/MEDUoffice, Athens could take responsibility for the coordination of the different activities.

29. The major coordinative functions will be:

a. collect the data; b. create an information network; c. develop monk seal protected areas; and d. facilitate regional research projects on monk seals.

30. The Consultation suggestedthat a person be employed through voluntary offers or through projectsor contract in order to facilitate coordination ofexisting andnew activitiesfor research, protectionand management.

31. Thestatus ofthe monk sealand the content ofthis management plan should bereviewed bya regional expertmeeting every twoyears and its reportbe submittedtothe meetingofthe contractingparties ofthe Barcelona Convention for endorsement.

32. Governments, whose localmonk seal populations have been exterminated, shouldassist countrieswithremaining populationsin theirefforts to protectthese inthe hope thatrecovery ofthe species willpermit its