An e-Atlas of Marine-Important Bird Areas, was launched by the BirdLife International at the ongoing 11th Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) here on Tuesday.

The inventory, covering 3000 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) worldwide, was described as a major contribution to marine conservation and a vital resource for meeting the CBD target of protecting 10% of marine and coastal areas by 2020.

It will also be crucial to the process of describing Ecologically or Biologically Significant marine Areas (EBSAs) and will have significant input into the siting of offshore energy infrastructure, according to a note circulated at the COP11.

The e-Atlas will be available exclusively online. Like Google Map, it will be dynamically updated as new sites are identified and new data about them become available. It will be linked to other BirdLife data resources.

Seabirds are now the most threatened group of birds. They present unique conservation problems, since many species travel thousands of kilometres across international waters and multiple exclusive economic zones, and only returning to land to breed.

“Given the vast distances they cover, the long periods they spend at sea and the multiple threats they face there, identifying a network of priority sites for their conservation is vital to ensure their future survival,” said Ben Lascelles, BirdLife’s Global Marine IBA Coordinator.