OSPAR/NEAFC special request on review of the results of the Joint OSPAR/NEAFC/CBD Workshop on Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs)
ICES reviewed the ecological evidence supporting the ten proposed ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs) from the OSPAR/NEAFC/CBD Workshop of September 2011, as presented in the annexes to that report. The review applied standard ICES practices and used primarily the references cited in the relevant annexes, but augmented those references with other publications and data sources. In nine of the ten proposed EBSAs, ICES came to different conclusions than were contained in the OSPAR/NEAFC/CBD Workshop report, with regard to the rankings of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) EBSA criteria. Of the ten proposed EBSAs, ICES supports the conclusion of the OSPAR/NEAFC/CBD workshop that the Arctic Ice area (Area 10) meets one or more EBSA criteria and this area could go forward at this time, possibly with minor suggested changes to the rationale. In four proposed EBSAs (Reykjanes Ridge south of Iceland EEZ (Area 1); Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone and Subpolar Frontal Zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (Area 2); Mid-Atlantic Ridge north of the Azores (Area 3); the Hatton and Rockall banks and Hatton–Rockall Basin (Area 4)), ICES considers that much of the area within the proposed EBSAs do not meet any of the EBSA criteria and for this reason the boundaries of these proposals need to be revised. More restricted parts of the proposed EBSAs meet several of the EBSA criteria and could go forward after boundary revision. ICES notes great similarities in the pro forma describing Areas 1 and 3 and part of Area 2 (OSPAR/NEAFC/CBD, 2011). A boundary revision to encompass the relevant parts of these areas as a single extended Mid-Atlantic Ridge proposed EBSA could be considered a step forwards. ICES recommends changes also to the pro forma rankings for all of these proposed EBSAs. Only a small part of the proposed EBSA for the Arctic Fron - Greenland/Norwegian seas (Area 9) possibly meets some of the EBSA criteria. However, another part of the general area might meet some of the EBSA criteria. ICES recommends that further data analyses followed by an evaluation of the new results against the EBSA criteria be undertaken before any further decision is taken. The rationales for four proposed EBSAs (around the Pedro Nunes and Hugo de Lacerda seamounts (Area 5); Northeast Azores–Biscay Rise (Area 6); Evlanov Seamount region (Area 7); and Northwest of Azores EEZ (Area 8)) are not well supported by the information presented in the relevant annexes. There is a need for further data and analyses in these areas, particularly in relation to seabirds, and another evaluation of the areas against the EBSA criteria. ICES found no clear evidence of additional EBSAs in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) of the Northeast Atlantic meeting the CBD scientific criteria.
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