Oceania rallies together for migratory species conservation

Amplifying the Pacific Voice as Oceania countries endeavour to protect migratory species on the global stage was at the core of a three day meeting last month. 

Australia, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Philippines and Samoa came together to strategically prepare for the next Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) to take place in October.

There are two Appendices of the CMS, these list the different migratory species to which the Convention applies.  Appendix One is the Endangered Migratory Species and Appendix Two is a list of Migratory Species conserved through Agreements.

At the EleventhConference of the Parties to the CMS, Fiji was successful in proposing the listing of nine species of mobula rays which are threatened by the international trade in products used in traditional Chinese medicine.

This year the Oceania region are stepping forward yet again with Samoa proposing the listing of the blue sharks on Appendix Two of CMS.

Blue 1-Jim
Blue shark. Photo: Jim Abernethy

“At the forthcoming Conference of the Parties (COP), Samoa will be proposing the listing of the blue sharks on Appendix II of CMS. If agreed by the Parties, this will be a significant protection measure for this species, which now accounts for 35-70% of the global trade in shark fins,” said Mr Michael Donoghue, Threatened and Migratory Species Adviser for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“Other issues of interest to SPREP Members to be discussed at the COP include the sustainability of hunts for turtles, whales, dolphins and dugong; the impacts of by-catch in commercial and subsistence fisheries; marine debris, marine noise; sustainable wildlife tourism; and the impacts of climate change on migratory species.”

CMS, with 124 countries, is the smallest of the family of UN Biodiversity Conventions, which also includes the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species.

Many of the most iconic marine species in the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) region are listed on the Appendices of CMS, including whales, turtles, dugong and certain species of sharks and rays. Through a number of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding CMS encourages countries on migratory pathways to collaborate to improve the conservation status of listed species.

CMS not only brings together representatives of Range States, but also through its Scientific Council provides expert advice from some of the world’s best wildlife biologists and has an emphasis on capacity building in developing countries.

“The CMS Secretariat and SPREP are both aware that the Pacific islands, especially Melanesia and Micronesia, are poorly represented.  Increasing the membership of CMS is a priority for both organisations and would significantly improve the prospects for effective conservation of many of the region’s most iconic marine species,” said Mr Donoghue.

During the three day meeting, SPREP in partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts also hosted a side event to showcase the conservation and protection of sharks and rays implemented across the Pacific as well as providing further information of other shark species that are proposed by other Parties to be discussed at the CMS COP12.

The CMS COP12 Oceania Preparatory Meeting was held in Brisbane, Australia from 28-30 August this year.  Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Philippines and Samoa which make up the Oceania region were represented.  Fiji and Palau, the other SPREP Member Parties, were unable to attend.

The Twelfth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species will be held in Manila, Philippines from 22 to 28 October, 2017.
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