The Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) is a regional agreement between governments that entered into force in 1994.

In February 2008, the agreement area was extended and the name changed to “Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas”.

Like its sister agreement ACCOBAMS, ASCOBANS requires the governments who have joined (Parties) to implement detailed conservation plans for small cetaceans including taking measures to minimise the incidental capture of cetaceans as well as reducing other threats.

The ASCOBANS approach also combines both the protection of threatened species and the institution of reinforced geographic protection. Parties commit to assess and manage the interactions between humans and cetaceans, conduct research and continuous monitoring, develop programmes to inform, train and educate the public and set up emergency response measures.

OceanCare contributes expertise and is involved in various working groups including ocean noise pollution.