A number of conventions or agreements having specific goals and important to the protection of the marine environment are drawn up as a part of the UN processes.
Protection of migratory species
The CMS or the "Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals" (Bonn, 1979), known as the Bonn Convention is the Convention for the protection of migratory species of wild animals. The parties to the convention enter into this convention to protect these migratory animals, to maintain or restore their environment and particularly to restrict the obstacles in their migratory routes. The international character of the Convention signifies an important milestone to a number of migratory marine species such as small cetaceans, sharks, sea birds and sea turtles.
Specific species are protected when they are included in the lists (Appendices or schedules to the Convention) of different levels of protection. The protective measures will be further elaborated in the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU).
There are two types of appendices:
• Appendix 1 contains a list of animal species that have to be obligatorily protected by the members of the convention.
• Appendix 2 contains a list of animal species for which a regional or international cooperation is needed to protect them.
Separate sub-conventions can also be concluded within this convention. The ASCOBANS and AEWA agreements are examples hereof.
Protection of small cetaceans
ASCOBANS or the "Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas" (Bonn, 1991) is a regional instrument that protects the small cetaceans in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Even dolphins and harbour porpoises belong hereto. This agreement falls under the Bonn Convention (CMS). The existence of these creatures is endangered by many human activities that reduce their habitat, pollute the sea and create noise pollution. Moreover, small cetaceans often get entangled in the nets of the fishers. As these marine mammals regularly cross the borders during their migrations, they can be effectively protected only by cooperating across the borders and by sharing one common vision. International rules concerning, inter alia, the types of nets that can be used, the maximum number of decibels that the ships or drilling may produce and the protective measures that are laid down for the ASCOBANS member states.
Protection of the flight routes
AEWA or the "Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Water-birds" (The Hague, 1995) is the most comprehensive agreement that falls under the Bonn Convention (CMS). This agreement regulates the protection of more than 250 birds that are wholly or partially dependent on the wetlands (swamps, coastal zones etc.,) for their migrations. The parties to the convention commit themselves to undertake the necessary protective measures described in the "action plans" for these species.
In 2010, the Marine Environment service of the FOD Public health, Food chain safety and Environment helped to lay down the basis for including seven endangered shark species in the appendices of the CMS and in the drafting of the MoU concerning the sharks.
Prevention of pollution of the sea by ships
MARPOL or the “International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships" (1973) amended by two protocols in 1978 is one of the most important pieces of legislation in the area of the prevention of pollution of sea water by the shipping. The shipwreck of the Torrey Canyon in 1973 gave rise to this Convention. The Convention covers the operational pollution as well as the pollution caused by an accident. Preventive measures that deal with the oil pollution (by tankers and fuel), the transport of hazardous substances (bulk or in packages), the sanitary waste, the other waste management and the air pollution by the ships are imposed under six technical schedules.
Prevention of dumping at sea
The Treaty of London (1972) prohibits the dumping of all substances in the sea with the exception of the substances included in the Appendix I to this Convention. On 7th November 1996, a Protocol to this Convention was adopted: the London Protocol. According to this Protocol, one may evaluate whether the substances from the Appendix 1 qualify to be dumped in the sea (appendix II). The London Protocol came into force on 24th March 2006. The Convention as well as the Protocol lay down the international regulations and introduce the standards for dumping as required by Article 210.6 of the Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS).