Getting notice for a rare blue whale area as an EBSA on road to be an MPA

Lucy Molleson (WDC)
Publié: 29 mai 2016
Dernière modification: 05 juillet 2019
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Endangered blue whales from the Eastern Tropical Pacific breed and feed in an offshore, highly productive oceanic feature called the Costa Rica Dome. Compiling data on the blue whales' use of the area and the overall productivity was the first step, followed by submitting a case study for protection of the area to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), publicising the value of the area, gaining local support, and working with MarViva and other NGOs on regional agreements..


Afrique de l'Est et du Sud
Amérique centrale
Scale of implementation
la mer ouverte
Écosystèmes marins et côtiers
Diversité génétique
Perte de biodiversité
Récolte non durable, y compris la surpêche
Utilisations conflictuelles / impacts cumulatifs
Manque de sensibilisation du public et des décideurs
Mauvaise surveillance et application de la loi
Aichi targets
Objectif 11: Aires protégées et conservées
Other targets


Costa Rica | Central America


Gaining recognition for rare breeding & feeding habitat of endangered offshore blue whales Endangered blue whales from the productive Eastern Tropical Pacific are in need of habitat protection In a productive area of the ocean with heavy fishing, ship traffic with noise and danger of ship strike. Much of the evidence for blue whale presence is unpublished so this had to be gathered to make a submission to CBD and to argue the case for an EBSA (ecologically or biologically significant area).


blue whales, as well as humpback whales, and various tropical dolphins, and the coastal communities of Costa Rica and Central America.

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

It has been a step by step process to obtain the best science to build the case, then to gain regional support to put the idea effectively into the CBD as a key stepping stone toward a fully protected MPA.


1) the public and government officials now know about rare blue whale habitat and the need for protection; 2) international scientific recognition through the CBD provides network links to MPAs with blue whales in Mexico & California; 3) there is momentum now for MPA protection in the region and through ABNJ work.


When I (Erich Hoyt) heard about the endangered blue whales turning up regularly in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, especially in an area called the Costa Rica Dome, I began to do research to find out what data was available both in terms of the blue whales, and the overall productivity of the area. I found out that the Costa Rica Dome is defined as a shoaling of the generally strong, shallow thermocline with cold nutrient-rich upwellings (Fiedler, 2002). It is also the only known tropical feeding and breeding area for blue whales. The proposed Costa Rica Dome MPA straddles the waters of the high seas as well as (mainly) Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I learned that the IUCN along with Sylvia Earle had identified the area as a special place and put it in a brochure in 2008 that was circulated among conservation professionals. I felt it was essential to get more recognition for the area especially in terms of the blue whale story so I talked to researchers, gained permission to use their data, worked with mapmakers and submitted a case study in 2009 to the CBD as a potential EBSA. I knew we would have to secure local support so at international meetings I talked with various conservation groups and scientists from the region, finally meeting Jorge Jimenez, president of MarViva, based in Costa Rica, in 2009. We agreed to work together, and built a wider coalition with IUCN, the International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas and others, and helped to raise funds for MarViva to get this on the agenda of a CBD EBSA workshop. The workshop in 2012 formally recommended the EBSA, later approved through the CBD COP, though with changed boundaries, and that has now set the stage for MPA proposals and formal protection.

Contribué par

Portrait de

Erich Hoyt IUCN SSC/WCPA Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force

Other contributors

IUCN SSC/WCPA Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force
MarViva —
Tethys Research Institute
Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC —