Six new protected species during COP23

The 23rd meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP23)which took place from December 5 to 8, 2023, in Portoroz, Slovenia, marked a significant advance in the protection of biodiversity in the Mediterranean. In the face of the growing impacts of the triple crisis of planetary change: climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pollution, it has decided to protect 6 species.

Sous l’impulsion d’une initiative française, des décisions cruciales ont été prises en faveur de la conservation des espèces marines menacées et en voie de disparition lors de la réunion de la COP23. These measures fall within the framework of specially protected areas and biodiversity (SPA/BD Protocol). This decision expands the sphere of protection to six additional species of sharks and rays, establishing specific management measures for three species of rays. Furthermore, it aims at the restoration of the Pinnae nobilis and the strengthening of the existing network of specially protected areas (Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance –SPAMIs). Mediterranean states that have ratified this convention are required to implement national protective measures for the species listed.

The six new species added to the list are:

  • Cow eagle ray (Aetomylaeus bovinus)- « Critically Endangered »
  • Bigeye thresher shark. (Alopias superciliosus) – « in danger »
  • Brown Ray (Bathytoshia lata) – « vulnerable »
  • Common Stingray(Dasyatis pastinaca) – « vulnerable »
  • Common Eagle Ray (Myliobatis aquila) – « vulnerable »
  • Lusitanian Mourine (Rhinoptera marginata) – « Critically Endangered »

Three new species of cartilaginous fish have also been included in the “List of species with regulated exploitation”: Dasyatis marmorata, Hexanchus griseus, and Pteroplatytrygon violacea. They are now listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List as “Near Threatened”.

Robin Degron, Director of Plan Bleu, emphasizes that “COP23 has delivered on its promises by further strengthening collaboration between Mediterranean countries and key stakeholders committed to the sustainable development of the region. In just a few days, and thanks to the initiative of France, the meeting has represented a significant step forward in the protection of Mediterranean biodiversity.” Robin Degron concludes by reminding us that biodiversity is the synonym of life.

Plan Bleu, is delighted both by this progress in biodiversity protection and by the initiative that has enabled this historic decision. This decision reflects the collective commitment to the preservation of biodiversity in the Mediterranean. It also highlight the importance of international cooperation in the fight against threats facing these vulnerable species. In applauding this initiative, Plan Bleu hopes that other positive actions will follow, thereby strengthening the resilience of Mediterranean biodiversity in the face of current and future environmental challenges.

Legend (1st line from left to right): Common Stingray, Brown Ray, Cow eagle ray

Legend (2nd line from left to right): Bigeye thresher shark, Lusitanian Mourine, Common Eagle Ray

Photo credit: Xavi Salvador Costa, Shutterstock, Fishpedia, Roberto Pillon, Christophe Dehondt

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