Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) are defined as discrete portions of habitat, important to marine mammal species, that have the potential to be delineated and managed for conservation. IMMAs consist of areas that may merit place-based protection and/or monitoring. ‘Important’ in the context of the IMMA classification refers to any perceivable value, which extends to the marine mammals within the IMMA, to improve the conservation status of those species or populations.
The identification of IMMAs through a consistent expert process, independent of any political and socio-economic concerns, will provide valuable input of marine mammals into existing national and international conservation tools with respect to marine protected areas, including Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) identified through the IUCN Standard. The IMMA process should also assist in providing strategic direction and priorities to the development of spatially explicit marine mammal conservation measures.