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CMS: Agreements

A number of global and regional species specific Agreements have been set up under CMS.  Agreements are an important means of implementing CMS.   

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Agreement on the Conservation of European Bats (EUROBATS)

37 species of bat are known to occur in Europe. These have undergone a long history of direct persecution, habitat transformation, misinformation and superstition. Their most immediate threats nowadays derive from habitat degradation, disturbance of roosting sites and certain pesticides. In view of their unfavourable conservation status, the First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Bonn, Germany, 1985) adopted a Resolution towards the development of an Agreement to protect all European bats.

The Agreement, originally known as the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe, entered into force on 16 January 1994. The aim of this agreement is to encourage co-operation within Europe to conserve all its species of bats. Parties to the Agreement agree to work through legislation, education, conservation measures and international co-operation towards the conservation of bats in Europe.

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Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS)

This agreement, prepared by the CMS Secretariat originally in 1986-87 with expert advice from various sources, entered into force on 29 March 1994.The ASCOBANS agreement sets out measures to conserve over 30 species of small cetaceans. The word "cetacean" refers to the order of marine mammals that comprises whales, dolphins and porpoises.

The agreement has already stimulated a joint research programme to assess the population and distribution of small cetaceans in the North Sea and western Baltic Sea, as well as research, monitoring and awareness programmes in individual Range States.

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Agreement on the Conservation of African - Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA)

This Agreement, the largest of its kind developed so far under CMS, entered into force on 1 November 1999 following ratification by 17 Range States or regional economic integration organisations.

The Agreement creates a legal basis for the conservation of all migratory waterbird species and populations, individuals of which migrate in the western Palearctic and Africa. It covers 235 species of migratory waterbirds, including many species of pelicans, storks, flamingos, swans, geese, ducks and waders. There are 117 countries (plus the European Union) that are range states to the Agreement including all of Europe, Africa, parts of Asia, North America and the Middle East. In fact, the geographic area covered by the AEWA stretches from the northern reaches of Canada and the Russian Federation to the southernmost tip of Africa.

The Agreement provides for co-ordinated and concerted actions to be taken by the Range States throughout the migration systems of the waterbirds to which it applies. Parties to the Agreement are called upon to engage in a wide range of conservation actions, which are described in a comprehensive Action Plan. This detailed plan is the product of extensive negotiations and discussions among governments, as well as interested conservation and user groups addresses such key issues as: species and habitat conservation, management of human activities, research and monitoring, education and information, and implementation.

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Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black and Mediterranean Seas (ACCOBAMS)

An important breakthrough for the conservation of cetaceans of the Mediterranean and Black Seas was achieved in Monaco from 19-24 November 1996 with the conclusion of an agreement aimed at reducing threats to cetaceans in these waters. The Agreement entered into force on 1 June 2001 having been ratified by the required five Mediterranean and two Black Sea states. The Agreement is open to membership of non-coastal States whose vessels are engaged in activities that may affect cetaceans.

Among other things, the Agreement requires signatories to protect dolphins, porpoises and other whales, and to establish a network of protected areas important for their feeding, breeding and calving. Representatives of over 20 Mediterranean and Black Sea countries, together with observers from numerous intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations participated in the signatory meeting.

The agreement is the first of its kind to bind the countries of the two subregions to work together on a problem of common concern. It calls on its members to implement a comprehensive conservation plan and to enforce legislation to prevent the deliberate taking of cetaceans in fisheries by vessels under their flag or within their jurisdiction, and to minimise incidental catches. Governments also undertake to assess and manage human-cetacean interactions; to carry out research and monitoring; to develop information, training and public education programmes; and to put in place emergency response measures.

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Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) was ratified by the UK on 2 April 2004.

Albatrosses and petrels are among the most threatened bird groups on the planet. Threats on land include the introduction of predators to their breeding islands and in some cases habitat degradation and disturbance. However it is at sea where the greatest threat comes from interactions with fisheries. Birds may be caught on hooks or collide with the wires used to tow trawls. These birds are also some of the greatest travellers on the planet and many could interact with fisheries in different jurisdictions during their lives. It is for this reason than an international agreement is needed. The species are found in the southern hemisphere and the UK’s Overseas Territories in the south Atlantic – the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory, and Tristan da Cunha – are important breeding sites for many of them.  The UK’s ratification of ACAP extends to these territories.

ACAP covers 19 albatross and seven petrel species at present; though the facility exists to add further species should the Parties so decide.

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Memoranda of Understanding (MoU)

MoUs have been concluded for the following species: the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris), the Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus), the Great Bustard (Otis tarda), the Bukhara deer (Cervus elephus bactrianus), marine turtles of the Atlantic coast of Africa, marine turtles of the Indian Ocean and South East Asia, and the Aquatic Warbler (Acrcephalus paludicola).

For further information on the MoU for marine turtles of the Indian Ocean and South East Asia please visit their website at

Page last modified: 9 April 2010
Page published: 23 October 2008

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