The Role of OSPAR in the Management of the Charlie-Gibbs Marine Protected Area

OSPAR Convention

The OSPAR Convention is the legal instrument that has guided the international cooperation to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic since March 25th, 1998. Work under the Convention is managed by the OSPAR Commission.

The OSPAR Commission consists of representatives from the governments of its 15 Contracting Parties (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) plus the European Commission for the European Union.
The Convention was signed and ratified by all of the Contracting Parties to the Oslo and Paris Conventions, which actually gave OSPAR its name.


OSPAR Competences

OSPAR has the mandate to designate and establish a network of MPAs in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ); identify features to be protected; adopt conservation objectives; and, take measures within its competence.

OSPAR is the only regional intergovernmental organisation in the North-East Atlantic which could drive an integrated management process for the protection of an area in ABNJ (ABNJ, OSPAR Commission 2009). To do this, OSPAR assesses the environmental status of the respective area(s) in ABNJ, and the individual and cumulative impacts of human activities on the marine ecosystem. It also identifies features to be protected, and establishes conservation objectives and monitoring measures.


OSPAR as a Regulatory Body

A number of human uses of the ocean fall under OSPAR regulation (OSPAR Commission, 2009).
Examples are:

  • scientific research
  • cable-laying
  • dumping,
  • construction of installations and artificial islands, and
  • deep-sea tourism

Therefore, in 2010, in parallel to the decision to establish six marine protected areas in ABNJ, OSPAR adopted a management recommendation for each one. Within these, OSPAR Contracting Parties commit to contribute to the conservation objectives for these sites: they individually and jointly want to raise awareness, accumulate information, fund and control scientific exploration, establish reference areas for climate change and design suitable monitoring programmes. Any new activities are required to be published, be subject to environmental impact assessments or strategic environmental assessments, and involve stakeholders and the best-available science. The results are published by OSPAR in an annual implementation report.
Additionally, in those ABNJ which have been proposed as MPAs but are not yet designated, such as the Charlie-Gibbs North area, Contracting Parties shall ensure that any activities conducted or authorised do not jeopardise the overall conservation objectives of the Charlie-Gibbs MPA.


Developing Multilateral Cooperation

OSPAR has only limited regulatory competences to achieve the conservation objectives for the MPAs. Therefore it intensified its working relations with the respective regional or global management organisations aiming at formalising the exchange of information and consultation by bilateral memoranda of understanding (MoU).

In 2010, OSPAR invited all stakeholders concerned with the management of  human activities taking place in the Charlie-Gibbs MPA for a first meeting (Madeira Stakeholder Workshop 10/7/1-E, Annex 3). Discussions were based on a WWF background document that provided an inventory of existing management measures, identified responsible management bodies and established the first comprehensive hierarchy of management options vs. the agreed conservation vision and objectives for the Charlie-Gibbs MPA.

Stakeholders agreed on a set of joint management principles, and on the outlines for a draft agreement on general and specific management measures for the conservation of biodiversity in MPAs in ABNJ--in particular the Charlie-Gibbs MPA (Madeira Stakeholder Workshop 10/7/1-E, Annex 3). This so-called Collective Arrangement was endorsed by OSPAR in 2011 (OSPAR Commission, 2011, Annex 15).


Collective Arrangement

The cooperation of competent authorities on the management of selected areas in ABNJ in the North-East Atlantic should be based on:
a. Joint principles for the conservation and management of selected areas in ABNJ in the North-East Atlantic. These include the precautionary principle; an ecosystem approach; the sustainable use of natural resources; use of best available scientific advice and best environmental practice; transparency; and the application of environmental impact assessments and strategic assessments.
b. Memoranda of understanding and other bilateral cooperation arrangements between competent authorities: currently with the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
c. Scientific evidence confirming the value and vulnerability of biodiversity within these areas.
d. The international legal framework for regulating activities in ABNJ, as provided by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


Second Stakeholder Workshop, 2012

In January 2012, a second workshop with stakeholders discussed the management framework in more detail. In the meantime, NEAFC has adopted the Collective Arrangement and it has been presented and discussed at IMO and ISA meetings. 




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