How can IMMAs be used?
IMMAs are defined as ‘discrete portions of habitat, important to marine mammal species, that have the potential to be delineated and managed for conservation’. As such, they are not marine protected areas (MPAs) with any legal or regulatory status. However, they are areas for which an international community of scientists have assessed a credible body of evidence to demonstrate the importance of the habitat for critical life functions of marine mammals. It should be noted that IMMAs are meant to identify the habitat of a given species, not the presence of the species itself: if a migratory marine mammal abandons an IMMA on a seasonal basis, the validity of that IMMAs remains unchanged because the habitat remains.
So how can IMMAs be used on a practical level to promote the conservation of marine mammals and their habitats, as well as wider biodiversity considerations? Here we list a few ways in which different stakeholders, ranging from government bodies to industry stakeholders, non-governmental organisations, researchers or coastal communities can use IMMAs in their planning and activities, including in cooperation with the IMMA Secretariat and the Task Force Regional Coordinators.