Job Opening

Posting Title: Study and guidance - limiting global impacts on whale sharks from vessel traffic
Department/Office: United Nations Environment Programme
Duty Station: BONN
Posting Period: 16 January 2023 - 24 January 2023
Job Opening Number: 23-United Nations Environment Programme-199222-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
Sorry, this job opening is no longer available.

Result of Service

The Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (Shark MOU) are informed of whale shark aggregation areas of heightened probability for collisions with shipping vessels. Utilizing the provided information, the CMS Parties will be equipped to make informed decisions at the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) on recommended mechanisms and policies to reduce or eliminate mortality of whale sharks resulting from shipping traffic, including the designation of identified high-risk collision areas as Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) and/or Areas to be Avoided (ATBAs) within the purview of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Work Location

remote home based

Expected duration

4 months

Duties and Responsibilities

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is a global intergovernmental treaty aimed at the conservation and sustainable use of migratory species and their habitats. Numerous additional intergovernmental instruments on migratory species conservation have been adopted under the broad umbrella of CMS which are supported by the CMS Secretariat. In addition, two regional agreements on migratory species adopted under CMS have their own Secretariats which are co-located with the CMS Secretariat in Bonn - the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) and the Agreement on the Conservation of European Populations of Bats (EUROBATS).

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the United Nations system's designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action. In the present context, UNEP provides the administrative functions for the CMS, AEWA and EUROBATS Secretariats. This post is located in the CMS Secretariat at the Bonn duty station in Germany.
The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks is the first global instrument for the conservation of migratory species of sharks and rays. It aims to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for migratory sharks based on the best available scientific information and taking into account the socio-economic value of these species for the people in various countries.
CMS Parties adopted Concerted Action 12.7 (Rev.COP13) for the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) and Sharks MOU Signatories agreed in Outcome 3.8 to cooperate with CMS on its implementation. This includes amongst other things to protect critical Whale Shark habitats and migratory routes.
Whale sharks are assessed as ‘Endangered’ in the IUCN Red List and as ‘Largely Depleted’ in the IUCN Green Status of Species. Population declines have been mainly driven by targeted fisheries in the Indo-West Pacific region, and bycatch in purse-seine and gillnet fisheries across the specie's range (globally in tropical and warm-temperate seas). However, a recent source of cryptic mortality in whale sharks was highlighted that requires further investigation. Collisions with large vessels, most of which go unreported and unnoticed due to the negative buoyancy of their bodies, could be playing a significant negative role in the species recovery, noting that even though targeted fishing has been prohibited across most Range States, numbers are still dwindling.

A consultant is required to provide expertise on whale shark ecology and movements, analysis and mapping of spatial data, and development of policy. The consultant is expected to implement the following tasks:

1. Establish areas of importance to whale sharks, noting seasonality and abundance for major aggregation sites;
2. Collate shipping data with a focus on areas of importance for whale sharks;
3. Conduct an ‘expert assessment’ to see how experts rate ship strike risk on a local level – possibly for actual aggregation and known whale shark movements;
4. Develop a map to show the risk of whale shark collisions in known critical areas of importance for the species.
5. Review policy mechanisms that are available to address vessel-animal overlap and mitigation of collisions, at a local, national and international level;
6. Assess efficacy of current mitigation systems for shark-vessel overlaps.
7. Develop draft guidelines and recommendations for CMS Parties and Sharks MOU Signatories for the designation of high-density whale shark areas (i.e., aggregation zones and any ‘busy’ movement / migratory pathways) as Areas to Be Avoided (ATBAs) and/or Particular Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs), including measures to be implemented in these areas, and / or with the International Maritime Organization (IMO). These guidelines should also include other policy/legislative options and recommendations on suitable monitoring and enforcement measures.

Qualifications/special skills

Post graduate degree in marine biology, zoology or a related field is required. PhD desirable.
A minimum of 2 years of work experience is required in the areas of shark ecology, particularly shark migration and movement patterns, ideally with Whale Sharks. Experience in analysis and mapping of spatial data is required. Previous experience in developing policy guidance documents and providing scientific advice to governments is desirable.


Fluency in written and spoken English required.

No Fee


Sorry, this job opening is no longer available.
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