IMMAs Workshop

Chania IMMA WorkshopThe report of the 1st Regional Workshop for the Mediterranean Sea on the Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) has been recently published, which took place in Chania (Island of Crete, Greece) last October, and organised by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The event for the Mediterranean area represented the first of a series of regional workshops that IUCN has planned by 2021 in five more areas of the globe: South Pacific, the Northeast Indian, the Northwest Indian and the Southeast Pacific oceans, and the waters of Oceania surrounding Australia and New Zealand.   


What are the IMMAs?

The Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) consist of areas that comprise a potential marine mammal layer for consideration of conservation measures by governments, intergovernmental organisations, conservation groups, and the general public. The identification of these areas allows to broaden the attention well beyond the marine mammals, thus including a wider spectrum of species, biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as promoting cooperation on both international and national levels for the global marine conservation strategy.

The objectives of the Mediterranean Workshop in Chania

The group of 34 experts from 17 different Mediterranean Countries gathered with the objective of identifying and proposing the candidate areas to become IMMAs (cIMMAs). The resulting list of candidates was then submitted to a panel of experts, who, in the first half of 2017, will decide whether or not to grant them the status of IMMA.

These candidacies represent a significant result in the path of the promotion and implementation of specific measures of conservation in these areas, to the benefit not only of the populations of marine mammals inhabiting them, but also of the entire ecosystem to which they belong, and thus of the treasure of Mare Nostrum.

This first IMMA Regional Workshop intended to help provide strategic direction and conservation priorities to the development of area-based marine mammal conservation within the Mediterranean region. Work included an initial review of the potential conservation concerns across the region, as well as recommendations on how to address such concerns using IMMAs and other appropriate conservation tools.

The work of Chania’s experts

The work of the gathered group of experts was based on: 1) the marine mammal species in relation to the areas of interest 2) the areas of interest within the sub-regions of the Mediterranean Sea. The candidate areas were thus resulting from a two-fold assessment (species/area) taking in consideration both aspects. Duty of the experts was also to review all available literature to support each single candidacy, identify their geographical boundaries, and manage the relative documentation.

The role of Oceanomare Delphis Onlus (ODO) in the Workshop

ODO was assigned the coordination of both the working group on the species of common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), and the one on the Thyrrennian Region, as well as it participated in the groups focusing on the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) e fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) for all the Mediterranean regions.

The results for the Thyrrennian Region

Five IMMA candidates (cIMMAs) within the Thyrrennian Region have resulted from the Workshop,  three of which are included in the study area of Ischia Dolphin Project ,ODO’s long term project in the waters of Ischia and Ventotene: Ischia coastal area (included the canyons of Cuma) for the common dolphin and the bottlenose dolphin; the Island of Ischia and Ventotene for the fin whale and Risso’s dolphin; and the Campania and Pontino Archipelagos for the sperm whale. The other two cIMMAs are: the Central Thyrrennian Sea for the fin whale and the Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), and Messina’s Strait for the fin whale. In addition, the Tiber River Estuary has been identified as Area of Interest (AoL), thanks to the data provided by ODO’s Roman Dolphins project.

The areas of interest will need further investigation and research before being submitted as IMMA candidates.

For further and more detailed information please read the Report of the Workshop, now available at the following link: