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The Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS) is a legal conservation tool based on cooperation. It is the first Agreement on cetacean conservation binding the Countries of these sub-regions, enabling them to work together on a matter of general interest. It was created under the auspices of the Bonn Convention (UNEP/CMS) and resulted from consultation between the Secretariats of four Conventions:

  • Barcelona Conventionfor the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean;
  • Bonn Conventionon the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals;
  • Bern Conventionon the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats;
  • Bucharest Conventionon the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution.

ACCOBAMS was signed on 24th November 1996 and entered in force on June 1st 2001. The Permanent Secretariat is hosted by the Principality Monaco through a Head Quarters Agreement.

The Agreement Area consists of all the maritime waters of the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the contiguous Atlantic area west of the Straits of Gibraltar. The Area includes the Pelagos Sanctuary dedicated to marine mammals in the North-West Mediterranean and established by France, Italy and Monaco. The extension of the geographical scope of the ACCOBAMS Area to the Exclusive Economic Zones of Spain and Portugal was adopted in 2010.  In January 2014, 23 countries of the ACCOBAMS area were Parties to the Agreement.


This intergovernmental Agreement embodies the drive of riparian Countries to preserve all species of cetaceans and their habitats within the geographical Agreement area by requiring stricter measures than those defined in the texts previously adopted. Its purpose is to reduce threats to cetaceans notably by improving current knowledge on these animals and by promoting closer cooperation amongst Parties with a view to conserving all cetacean species present in the area.

Cetaceans’species are under several threats that cause damages and are among the main reasons for the decline observed in some populations. Most of these threats result from interactions with human activities and practices. Thus, cetaceans undergo the impacts of pollution (chemical, noise and marine debris), of navigation (risk of vessel collisions), of fishing activities (incidental bycatch and reduction of food resources) and of tourism (disturbance). Climate changes represent an additional threat to their environmental balance.  

Parties to ACCOBAMS are required to implement a detailed Conservation Plan to achieve and to maintain a favourable conservation status for cetaceans. This commitment combines total protection of threatened species with stronger habitat protection.

From this point forward, within the limits of their sovereignty and/or jurisdiction and in accordance with their international obligations, the Parties are requested to provide:

  • Legislative measuresprohibiting intentional catch, reducing incidental catch in fishing nets, submitting to impact assessment activities that may affect cetaceans, and strengthening actions against pollution;
  • Assessmentand management of interactions between human activities and cetaceans;
  • Habitats protectionin particular by establishing Specially Protected Areas within critical habitats for cetacean feeding or reproduction;
  • Research and monitoringas a support to conservation measures and to enhance their efficiency;
  • Capacity buildingenabling all riparian Countries to implement conservation measures and collects the required information more efficiently;
  • Information, training and education programs for the general public and professional sectors;
  • Responses to emergency situationsfor the rescue of wounded, sick or stranded animals or for scientific sampling from dead ones.

In addition, ACCOBAMS calls for proposals of projects under the Supplementary Conservation Grant Funds, provides teaching module on cetacean conservation, and runs two regional programmes, i.e., “mitigation of the impacts of fishing activities” and, “assessment and reduction of the impact of ghost fishing on marine biodiversity”.

In order to facilitate communication, a Biennial Conference on Cetacean Conservation in South Mediterranean Countries is also organized by ACCOBAMS.

ACCOBAMS Permanent Secretariat
Jardin de l'UNESCO
Les Terrasses de Fontvieille
MC-98000 Monaco

Tel: +377 9898 2078/8010
Fax: +377 9898 4208

E-mail: [email protected]


Titlesort descending Status Status date CMS Party number Region
Albania Party 2001 076 Europe
Algeria Party 2007 094 Africa
Bosnia and Herzegovina Range State 126 Europe
Bulgaria Party 1999 061 Europe
Croatia Party 2000 070 Europe
Cyprus Party 2006 077 Europe
Egypt Party 2010 001 Africa
European Union Signed but not ratified 001 Europe
France Party 2004 032 Europe
Georgia Party 2001 067 Europe
Greece Party 1996 062 Europe
Israel Signed but not ratified 001 Europe
Italy Party 2005 001 Europe
Lebanon Party 2005 128 Asia
Libya Party 2002 080 Africa
Malta Party 2001 074 Europe
Monaco Party 1997 040 Europe
Montenegro Party 2009 111 Europe
Morocco Party 1999 042 Africa
Portugal Party 2005 001 Europe


Instrument nameAgreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositaryGovernment of Monaco, Département des Relations Extérieures, Ministère d’Etat, 98000 Monaco
SignatureOpen for signature: Monaco 24.11.1996 until entry into force. 15 signed: 24.11.96: ALBANIA, CROATIA, CYPRUS, FRANCE, GEORGIA, GREECE, ITALY, MONACO, PORTUGAL, SPAIN, TUNISIA, 28.3.97: MOROCCO, 28.9.98: ROMANIA, 16.9.99: BULGARIA, 23.3.01: MALTA
Website URL
PDF icon Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area245.4 KB
PDF icon Accord Sur la Conservation des Cétacés de la Mer Noire, de la Méditerranée et d ela Zone Atlantique adjacente250.84 KB
PDF icon Acuerdo sobre la Conservación de los Cetaceos del Mar, el Mar Mediterráneo y la Zona Atllantica Contingua250.71 KB

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