15 May 2017

Action Plan for Marine Mammals in Israel, 2017–2022

Our latest contribution to marine mammal conservation:

Action Plan for Marine Mammals in Israel, 2017–2022

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Download pdf with active Table of Contents and links (14 MB)


The Mediterranean waters of Israel cover a sea surface of approximately 26,000 km2. Israel also has a small 14 km window open to the Red Sea, at the northwestern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat. These waters host a considerable variety of marine mammals: most of the cetacean species known to be present in the Mediterranean also occur in the waters of Israel. On the southern coast, the deep Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat hosts several of the cetacean species occurring in the entire Red Sea. Israel’s marine mammal fauna also includes one member of the Family Phocidae (the rare Mediterranean monk seal); one sirenian—the dugong—may still occur in the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat.

Israel has formally committed to the preservation of biodiversity by ratifying a number of international conservation treaties and issuing strict nature and animal conservation laws. However, action taken so far has not been capable of mitigating the diversity and vehemence of human pressures on the marine environment. While all marine mammal species in Israel are formally protected, little action has been taken to prevent unintentional damage. Timely conservation action is needed to prevent marine mammal decline.

The Action Plan for Marine Mammals in Israel, prepared by Giovanni Bearzi (Dolphin Biology and Conservation) in consultation with Israel Marine Mammal Research & Assistance Center (IMMRAC), contributes background information, a rationale and a set of actions to protect marine mammals in Israel. The Plan outlines a set of legislative, management, research, education and awareness initiatives which aim to: 1) improve the management of human activities known or likely to have negative impacts on marine mammals, and produce scientific information that can support and guide such process, 2) prominently feature marine mammals in national legislation and management decision, 3) make the general public and the institutions fully aware of the need of protecting marine mammals, as well as of the long-term benefits of preserving healthy marine ecosystems, 4) ensure the protection of areas containing important marine mammal habitat and prey resources, and 5) support the development of expertise and establish the social and economic framework necessary to accomplish the marine mammal conservation objectives listed above.

In recent years, field research by Israeli and other scientists has produced important information on marine mammal occurrence, ecology and behaviour. Such knowledge, together with a growing popular appreciation of the importance of protecting marine biodiversity, represents a solid background to start a formal process of nation-wide recognition of marine mammals—leading to more intensive research efforts, increased public and institutional awareness, and concrete conservation action. Besides representing a resource for nature tourism, a healthy marine mammal fauna can raise Israel’s international reputation as a nation aware of the importance of protecting its natural heritage. Science-based actions inspired by the precautionary principle can set high standards of conservation management, representing a model for marine mammal protection in the region and propelling broad marine conservation efforts.

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