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The Treaties - 36 - Marine Biodiversity Treaty


1. Maintaining the biological diversity and integrity of the sea is a key factor in the health of the planet. Over-exploitation and the introduction of non-indigenous species threaten the natural balance.

2. Today, exploiters are far more numerous, technologies are far more powerful and predatory practices have prevailed over traditional ways. For these reasons, humans have hunted some species to extinction and pushed many others to the brink. There is a dire need for ecologically sustainable practices that directly or indirectly conserve the marine environment and its species.

3. Non-indigenous species compete with native species and are probably the least recognized of the serious threats. In many of the world's harbors, 10% to 90% of species are non-indigenous. While the natural ranges of species have always fluctuated, large numbers of species are now accidentally transported, for example, by entering new waters when trans- or inter-oceanic ships empty their ballast tanks. Accidental releases of genetically altered species from fish farms are also an increasing problem in some areas. These practices alter the natural biological diversity of inland waters.


In addressing the above concerns, we agree that:

4. Sustainable fisheries, such as traditional artisanal fisheries, do not threaten marine biodiversity, but must be effectively maintained and enforced, in order to ensure conservation and promote optimum utilization of living resources.

5. Preventing the introduction of non-indigenous species is far less costly and far more effective than their eradication and requires that ships must take all necessary precautions to avoid the transportation of species across the oceans.

6. The operation of fish farms should follow the precautionary principle in the use of toxics and the secure containment of stock.

Action Plan

NGOs should:

7. Urge nations to adopt procedures for implementing recommendations in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) position statement "Translocation of Living Organisms" and the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) "The Code of Practice to Reduce the Risks for Adverse Effects Arising from the Introduction and Transfer of Marine Species".

8. Establish education programs which are targeted at importers and distributors of aquaculture and pet species to minimize the release of alien marine species.

9. Urge the United Nations (UN), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and ICES to convene a working group of maritime and coastal nations to draft an international treaty to stop the unintended introduction of alien species into marine, estuarine, harbor and freshwater ecosystems in ships' ballast water; and ensure that nations sign and enforce the treaty.

10. Urge UN agencies and international lending institutions to take no actions that encourage the proliferation of technologies that lead to the degradation of marine ecosystems or the depletion of marine species below sustainable levels.

11. Urge all countries to sign and become active participants in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).

12. Urge government agencies to develop national laws for managing marine species sustainably.

13. Urge the World Bank and other public and private funding agencies to only fund sustainable aquaculture.

14. Urge all coastal countries to have a management agency with responsibility and authority to protect living marine resources and manage them on a sustainable basis.

15. Encourage the establishment of programs to identify spawning areas and establish criteria for their protection from all sources of degradation.

16. Urge the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to assemble information on the local and regional physical and biological effects of trawling on the seabed to explore ways to limit its harmful impact.

17. Urge all coastal countries to have a management agency with responsibility and authority to protect living marine resources and manage them on a sustainable basis.

18. Encourage governments to undertake Environmental Impact Assessments of policies and projects to avoid adverse affects.

Commitment of Resources

NGOs should:

19. Initiate regional workshops, with assistance from international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in order to exchange and share scientific information and procedures to deal with environmental problems.

20. Form an electronic network to share information. This will be organized by NGOs with computer technical support and should include programs to train and assist NGOs in less developed countries.

21. Develop a complete list of NGOs with names of contact persons and areas of interest and expertise, organized by region, to encourage regional network-building and meetings.

22. Initiate a newsletter among ourselves to inform each other of actions taken to implement this NGO treaty.


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