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Bonn, 17 March 2017 - The Harbour Porpoise is the only small whale found regularly in German waters and there are no more than 500 of them left in the Baltic Sea. The species' survival is also due to the international Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans in the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS). This year, ASCOBANS celebrates its 25th anniversary. The Agreement was negotiated under the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Wild Animal Species.
Dolphins and all toothed whales, besides the sperm whale, are covered by ASCOBANS. They cross international borders and depend therefore on transboundary protection measures. ASCOBANS was opened for signature at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 17 March 1992. So far, ten European countries have joined the agreement, including Germany. In 2008, the Agreement area, which originally comprised only the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, was extended to include the North East Atlantic and the Irish Sea.
Numerous dangers threaten individual animals and even entire populations of marine mammals. Bycatch, the accidental capture in fishing nets, in which animals are entangled and suffocate, ranks first. As a result, thousands end up in fishing nets every year. In the long term, ASCOBANS aims to reduce the mortality rate to zero.
Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas
UN Agreement for Small Whales Turns 25 Years Old