The launch of the ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative was celebrated in Malaga on 8 June 2018, World Ocean Day, in the presence of many celebrities.
The "ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative" project of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area, is a project to undertake an inventory of all the cetaceans in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. It was developed and implemented by the ACCOBAMS Permanent Secretariat and has received several million euros in support, in particular from the MAVA Foundation, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the French Biodiversity Agency, the Principality of Monaco and all the bordering countries.
A day of events was held on 8 June to take advantage of the research vessel "Song of the Whale" entering the Mediterranean in Malaga, Spain. The day was organised in association with the IUCN's Mediterranean Office, to celebrate the official launch of the Mediterranean Campaign.
"This is an unprecedented regional effort, the aim of which is to set up an integrated, coordinated cetacean monitoring programme that will contribute to a better state of conservation of cetaceans and their habitat. This innovative initiative contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 on the Oceans and the Aichi Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity," commented H.E. Mr. Xavier Sticker, President of ACCOBAMS and French Ambassador for the Environment.
The nine cetacean species that live in the Mediterranean play a key role in balancing the marine ecosystem; however, they are threatened by human activity.
H.E. Mr. Jean-Luc Van Klaveren, Ambassador of Monaco to the Kingdom of Spain, emphasised that "ACCOBAMS' action is essential for the conservation of cetaceans, because for two decades this Agreement has been a link between borders, between various fields, between the political, scientific, professional and activist communities, on a central, shared issue." He recalled that, "for these reasons, the Principality of Monaco has been one of the main contributors to ACCOBAMS for many years. With regard to the Survey Initiative, H.E. the Ambassador explained that, "as H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince personally announced in November 2016, His Foundation has also committed EUR 100,000 to this project."
Since 11 June, a small plane has been flying over our region, and will do so for a month, making linear "V" flights, so the observers can count whales and dolphins, sea turtles and seabirds, and also plastic bags.
"This initiative is an example of what cooperation between all stakeholders can achieve for biodiversity conservation. It's also a great human adventure and a real challenge!" commented Ms. Florence Descroix-Comanducci, Executive Secretary of ACCOBAMS, pointing out that the ship will be in Monaco on 19 July 2018.