Marine Debris Get Star Coverage At Conservation Of Migratory Species Conference And 31 Species Granted New Protection Status.

I have been following along closely these last few days on Twitter (#CMSCOP11) to the exciting goings on at the UNEP Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

Lots of marine related proposals and issues up for discussion including; marine debris, whale and dolphin conservation, and also 21 shark and ray species up for listing on CMS appendices (appendix I listing requires strict protection, while Appendix II requires coordinated management by the countries through which the species migrate).

The outcome of the six days of meeting was very, very positive.

All of the 21 shark and ray species up for adoption on appendices to improve there conservation protection where successfully adopted. This includes the hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna sp.) [Appendix II], manta ray (Manta birostris) [Appendix I and II], thresher sharks (Alopias sp.) [Appendix II], and silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) [Appendix II], this means they now require much stricter protection and coordinated management. This is brilliant as shark numbers are dwindling worldwide and many are at threat from; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, overfishing, by catch, shark finning,  and habitat destruction.


Scalloped Hammerhead Shark [Photograph: Brian Skerry, National Geographic via NOAA]

The Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) was granted appendix I status. This is with the hope that it will provide greater protection for local populations of Cuvier’s which tend to be small and vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts such as marine noise, by catch, and ship collisions. The Cuvier’s beaked whale are extremely deep divers and also conduct some of the longest dives of al marine mammals. Cuvier’s are the most widely distributed beaked whale while also being probably the least understood.


Cuvier’s Beaked Whale. There are very few photos of this species. [Photo: Heinrich Schatz / Earthviews @ MMS]

This was such a positive outcome for CMS conference and the meeting probably had the biggest public and publicised presence is has ever had with a big deluge of information coming out across social media in particular Twitter:

I like this quote from Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme about shared responsibilities as we further develop our communities globally:

“The decisions made by Governments at the CMS Conference reflects the growing awareness that the responsibility for protecting wildlife is a shared one, and that the threats to wildlife can be tackled most effectively through global cooperation…International agreements such as the CMS work on behalf of citizens and communities around the world who wish to conserve and protect our natural heritage. They are an expression of our shared commitment that the pursuit of human development does not come at the expense of our natural world”

Marine Debris and Renewable Energies

Alongside the above listing strides were made in regards to marine debris and also renewable energies and their effects on marine life.

A report on marine debris showed that 192 species, including 45 per cent of marine mammals, 58 per cent of all seals, 21 per cent of seabirds and all species of sea turtles have been shown to be affected by entanglement from marine debris. This is an abhorrently large number. In the same report scientists made recommendations for effective ways to address the problem of marine waste. It was specifically recommending that the best way is the prevention of waste reaching the marine environment in the first place, therefore countries will need to consider ways in which they can improve waste management practices on land as well as for stopping the disposal of garbage at sea by commercial shipping operations (where a significant proportion of marine debris come from). Further to this targeted campaigns which highlight the impact of marine debris on migratory species can be beneficial in bring about behavioural change as the public has been shown to be motivated into action and support by such action and awareness campaigns.

Finally guidelines were adopted to ensure that the development and deployment of renewable energies are done in a wildlife-friendly manner to minimise risk of disturbance and injury.

A very good meeting in all areas. I am so happy and impressed at the cooperative nature of the meeting and how all nations have come together to protect some of out most treated wildlife, wildlife that doesn’t respect the boundaries and borders that we have imposed on ourselves.

What resolutions where you happiest about?

Entangled turtle in fishing gear [Image: NOAA via NMFS permit 932-1905]

You can also follow along on the Deep Blue Conversations Facebook Page. I post interesting articles related to marine conservation, share awesome stories as well as photos from the marine conservation and environmental world in general. Come on over and have a look!

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