IBAs & EBSAs – Describing important at-sea areas

BirdLife has been a key stakeholder in the Convention on Biological Diversity-led process to describe Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs). We have compiled seabird tracking data and provided information on relevant marine IBAs, to guide the description of EBSAs at the Regional Workshops. Seabirds are the best studied pelagic taxa, and can provide critical information for many oceanic areas where few or no other data exist. Marine IBAs have been an important source of data for the EBSA process, and several EBSAs have been described solely on seabird data.

What is an EBSA?

Dalmatian Pelican
© Paul F. Donald

EBSAs are marine sites described based on a set of ecological and biological criteria. EBSAs are intended to contribute to marine conservation by describing areas of particular significance that are valued by stakeholders. Describing a site as an EBSA does not result in any management measures or restriction of activities – it is simply recognition of an area’s biological or ecological significance. For EBSAs located within national jurisdiction, it is up to the country to decide on any measures. For EBSAs in the high seas, it is hoped that they can guide future biodiversity conservation and management actions, particularly upon the adoption of the high seas treaty. They are described through a Regional, expert workshop, and must meet one or more of the seven scientific criteria.

There have been 15 regional workshops to date, with more than 600 marine IBAs included in the 321 EBSAs now recognised.

Explore some of the different seabird related EBSAs in the map below!

Map Key

Map Key
North Pacific
Western South Pacific
Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific
Wider Caribbean and Western Mid Atlantic
North-west Atlantic
Map Key
Black and Caspian Seas
Baltic Sea
South-Eastern Atlantic
South Indian Ocean
North-West Indian Ocean and Adjacent Gulf Areas
North-East Indian Ocean
East Asian Seas

Please view this page on a desktop computer to see our interactive EBSA colony map.