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ASCOBANS was concluded in 1991 as the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) and entered into force in 1994. In February 2008, an extension of the agreement area came into force which changed the name to "Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas".

ASCOBANS Agreement Area

The Agreement Area is defined as follows:

"... the marine environment of the Baltic and North Seas and contiguous area of the North East Atlantic, as delimited by the shores of the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland; to the south-east by latitude 36°N, where this line of latitude meets the line joining the lighthouses of Cape St. Vincent (Portugal) and Casablanca (Morocco); to the south-west by latitude 36°N and longitude 15°W; to the north-west by longitude 15° and a line drawn through the following points: latitude 59°N/longitude 15°W, latitude 60°N/longitude 05°W, latitude, 61°N/longitude 4W;latitude 62N/ longitude 3W; to the north by latitude 62°N; and including the Kattegat and the Sound and Belt passages."

The Secretary General of the United Nations has assumed the functions of Depository of the Agreement. ASCOBANS is open for accession by all Range States (i.e. any state that exercises jurisdiction over any part of the range of a species covered by the Agreement or whose flag vessels engage in operations adversely affecting small cetaceans in the Agreement area) and by regional economic integration organisations.


Titlesort ascending Status Status date CMS Party number Region
United Kingdom Party 1993 019 Europe
Sweden Party 1992 001 Europe
Spain Range State 017 Europe
Russian Federation Range State AM Europe
Portugal Range State 001 Europe
Poland Party 1996 049 Europe
Norway Range State 018 Europe
Netherlands Party 1992 001 Europe
Lithuania Party 2005 079 Europe
Latvia Range State 060 Europe
Ireland Range State 001 Europe
Germany Party 1993 016 Europe
France Party 2005 032 Europe
Finland Party 1999 028 Europe
European Union Signed but not ratified 001 Europe
Estonia Range State 110 Europe
Denmark Party 1993 001 Europe
Belgium Party 1993 035 Europe
Instrument nameAgreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositarySecretary-General of the United Nations United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, Treaty Section New York, N.Y. 10017, U.S.A. Tel: +1 (212) 963 6045 / Fax: +1 (212) 963 3693
SignatureOpen for signature at United Nations Headquarters, New York, on 17 March 1992, and thereafter until date of entry into force
Website URL
OtherAn Advisory Committee consisting of one member appointed by each Party; a "Co-ordinating Authority" established in each Party. Under the aegis of the ASCOBANS Secretariat, a special working group composed of representatives of international conventions, government ministries, fishermen and environmental groups has developed a recovery plan for the Baltic Harbour porpoise (Jastarnia Plan), which recommends a programme for bycatch reduction, research and monitoring, marine protected area establishment and an increase of public awareness. The overall aim is to restore the Baltic population of Harbour porpoises - an estimated 600 individuals are left - to at least 80% of the Baltic’s carrying capacity. A change in fishing methods and a reduction of fishing effort could significantly contribute to a lower bycatch rate.

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