Protecting the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are long-term management tools designed to safeguard habitats, species and ecosystem processes by protecting an area from threats such as fishing, waste dumping, oil and gas extraction, mining of minerals, bioprospecting, and others.

In 2003, the OSPAR Commission agreed to establish an ecologically coherent network of well-managed MPAs including areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) by 2010. Based on a proposal promoted by WWF and the Netherlands, OSPAR Contracting Parties agreed in principle to establish the Charlie-Gibbs MPA as a first OSPAR MPA in ABNJ in 2008. Further nominations originating from a scientific study initiated and financed by Germany as lead for the OSPAR MPA group completed the first suite of MPAs in ABNJ to cover a representative set of areas. Five of the six sites were finally adopted by the Ministerial Meeting in 2010, namely the Mid-Atlantic Ridge north of the Azores as well as the Milne, Altair, Antialtair and Josephine Seamounts. The northern section of the proposed Charlie-Gibbs MPA, that is part of the Reykjanes Ridge, was excluded until claims of sovereign rights over this area will be settled.