To maintain, protect and conserve global marine biodiversity through conservation and protection of its components in a biogeographically representative network of ecologically coherent sites. Using the best available scientific information, the precautionary approach and ecosystem approach will be applied to help halt the losses in biodiversity.”

– Azores Meeting, 2007


Image credit: ACEP Imida

The History of EBSAs (in a BCLME context)

At the CBD's 7th COP in 2004, an Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Protected Areas was established. Among other things, this working group was mandated "to explore options for cooperation for the establishment of marine protected areas in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, consistent with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and based on scientific information". Over the next 13 years, which included 6 more COPs and numerous regional meetings, the concept of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas has been developed and applied to areas both beyond and within national jurisdiction. To date, 279 EBSAs are recognised.  Read more


Image credit: ACEP Imida

The 7 EBSA Critera

A site is considered to be an EBSA if it can meet at least one of the seven EBSA critera. These criteria are (Read more):

  1. uniqueness or rarity;
  2. importance for life-history stages;
  3. importance for threatened species and/or habitats;
  4. vulnerability, fragility and/or sensitivity;
  5. biological diversity;
  6. biological productivity;
  7. naturalness.


Click the banner to visit the Convention on Biological Diversity EBSA Portal and learn more about EBSAs globally