Migratory marine species: their status, threats and conservation management needs

Last modified: 
December 14, 2019 - 11:27am
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2014
Date published: 11/2014
Authors: Ben Lascelles, Giuseppe Di Sciara, Tundi Agardy, Annabelle Cuttelod, Sara Eckert, Lyle Glowka, Erich Hoyt, Fiona Llewellyn, Maite Louzao, Vincent Ridoux, Mike Tetley
Journal title: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Volume: 24
Issue: S2
Pages: 111 - 127
  1. Migratory marine species (MMS) include many of the world's most charismatic organisms such as marine mammals, seabirds, turtles, sharks, and tuna. Many are now among the most threatened due to the diverse range of pressures they encounter during their extensive movements. This paper shows that 21% of MMS are classified as threatened (i.e. categorized as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable). Sea turtles are the most threatened group (85%), followed by seabirds (27%), cartilaginous fish (26%), marine mammals (15%) and bony fish (11%). Taken together 48% of MMS are threatened, Near Threatened or Data Deficient.
  2. As well as being threatened they share in common being wide-ranging animals, travelling through the waters of multiple nations as well as in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) during different times of the year. This makes their conservation a challenge, requiring coordinated action by many nations, international organizations, Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and other stakeholders if their populations are to recover to healthy levels and be safeguarded into the future.
  3. Even though they are wide-ranging, long-term studies reveal considerable site fidelity and well-defined habitats for many species and areas. These sites are prime candidates for enhanced management such as via Marine Protect Area (MPA) designations. However, existing management frameworks do not yet contribute sufficiently to MMS conservation, MPA networks need to be expanded to capture key areas, in many cases through the application of new dynamic management techniques such as time area closures.
  4. Data on the distribution, abundance, behaviours and threats faced by many MMS are now available. These data should be used to inform the design of effective management regimes, such as MPAs, both within and beyond national jurisdictions. MEAs should ensure a full complement of MMS are included within species listings, and encourage further action to safeguard their populations.
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