Athens/Bonn, 17 August 2006 - At today’s meeting of the UN-affiliated International Maritime Organization (IMO), UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, together with representatives of other UN Agencies and countries in the affected region, focused on how to contain the oil spill and the related environmental disaster caused by armed conflicts in Lebanon.

The CMS Family has offered to help countries in the region to cope with the environmental damage as it relates to migratory species. The Convention and two of its Agreements asked Mr. Steiner to convey their offers of technical assistance to the international high-level meeting that was working towards a coordinated UN response to the oil spill.

The actual impacts of the oil spill on migratory species have yet to confirmed. However, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), and in consultation with the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS), the CMS Partners and members of the CMS Scientific Council, the CMS Secretariat has undertaken a preliminary assessment of the potential impact of the Lebanese oil spill.

The results of the assessment have been compiled and are available in summary form.

Impacts to cetacean species are expected to be mainly indirect. ACCOBAMS has offered to provide an expert to advise the Lebanese authorities on possible cetacean-related impacts from the spill.

For waterbirds the situation could deteriorate in the very near future when the autumn migration starts and over-wintering marine and coastal birds (cormorants and gulls) start arriving in the affected region and other migrants utilize the coast for foraging. AEWA has offered access to its network of experts and would be ready to undertake a study to help identify potential risks posed by the oil spill on populations of breeding, migrating and wintering waterbird species in the region, if funds were made available.

The preliminary CMS assessment identifies green and loggerhead turtles and their nesting beaches in Lebanon and Syria as potentially at risk. Consequently, CMS has offered the affected countries access to its network of experts on marine turtles and has offered to contribute its global expertise to future coordination efforts on the spill and to any post-conflict environmental assessment.

For more information, please see http://www.cms.int/news/PRESS/nwPR2006/August/nw081706_oilspill.htm

Source:
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