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The Signatories To The Pacific Cetaceans Mou

Press Release – CMS

Pacific Island states and territories are meeting in Auckland on 28-29 July, to agree a way forward to conserve the whales and dolphins (cetaceans) of the Pacific Islands Region. Many species in the region, such as the blue whale, the humpback whale, the …

2nd Meeting Of The Signatories To The Pacific Cetaceans Mou
28-29 July 2009
Heritage Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand

Pacific Island states and territories are meeting in Auckland on 28-29 July, to agree a way forward to conserve the whales and dolphins (cetaceans) of the Pacific Islands Region. Many species in the region, such as the blue whale, the humpback whale, the orca and the bottlenose dolphin, are endangered by a number of threats, including entanglement in fishing gear and by-catch, direct hunting, climate change, habitat degradation, pollution, underwater noise and collisions with ships.

The group will agree on an Action Plan containing the region’s most urgent priority actions. The Action Plan places emphasis on increasing capacity, awareness and understanding in the region. It outlines how communities can benefit from whale and dolphin -based tourism. Involving local communities in conservation activities is a key to the success of such an initiative.

The agreement is officially referred to as the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (more commonly called the Pacific Cetaceans MoU).

The Pacific Cetaceans MoU was concluded in 2006 under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), with the close collaboration and support of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

This is the second official meeting, and brings together governments, NGOs, and inter-governmental organizations, such as the UN, who together can achieve more than each group could on their own. Objectives include developing a better understanding of the threats facing these species, and finding effective ways to achieve healthy populations and ecosystems.

While the science of whale and dolphin conservation will be stressed, traditional knowledge and customs of the Pacific Island nations are also key elements of the agreement.

The meeting is being convened through the ongoing collaboration between CMS and SPREP.

Conservation of Cetaceans and their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region under CMS
Memoranda of Understanding negotiated under CMS are not legally binding, but they provide a valuable framework for collaborative conservation actions between countries, without the additional costs of establishing their own Secretariat (which is required for a legally-binding Agreement). The MoU for the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Pacific Islands Region (see Annex 1) was negotiated between 2003 and 2006, and currently has eleven signatories (Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Niue, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu).

The First Meeting of Signatories was held in Samoa in March 2007. The meeting endorsed an initial work programme to develop an Action Plan for the MoU that would be compatible with the Whale and Dolphin Action Plan that has been recently developed by the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, which coordinates conservation actions by Pacific Island governments across 32 million sq km of ocean.

Key elements of the updated Action Plan for Pacific Island Cetaceans to be discussed at the Auckland meeting will include:

 Threat reduction;
 Habitat protection, including migratory corridors;
 Research and monitoring;
 Education and public awareness;
 Information exchange;
 Capacity building;
 Responses to strandings and entanglements;
 Sustainable and responsible cetacean-based tourism; and
 International cooperation.

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or the Bonn Convention) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1978, its membership has grown steadily to include 111 Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Besides establishing obligations for each State joining the Convention, CMS promotes concerted action among the Range States of many of these species.

Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention.

CMS acts as a framework Convention. The conservation arrangements developed under CMS may range from legally binding treaties (called Agreements) to less formal instruments, such as Memoranda of Understanding, and can be adapted to the requirements of particular regions. The development of models tailored according to the conservation needs throughout the migratory range is a unique capacity to CMS.

Seven binding Agreements have been concluded to date under the auspices of CMS. They aim to conserve, amongst others:

 Cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area
 Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas
 Seals in the Wadden Sea
 Albatrosses and Petrels
 African-Eurasian Waterbirds

In addition, 17 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have been concluded to date under the auspices of CMS. They aim to conserve, amongst others:
 Cetaceans of Pacific Island States
 Dugongs
 Mediterranean Monk Seal
 Marine Turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa
 Marine Turtles of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia
 Small Cetaceans and Manatees of Western Africa and Macaronesia

A Secretariat under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), based in Bonn, Germany, provides administrative support to the Convention. The decision-making organ of the Convention is the Conference of the Parties (COP). A Standing Committee provides policy and administrative guidance between the regular meetings of the COP. A Scientific Council consisting of experts appointed by individual member States and by the COP gives advice on technical and scientific matters.

ENDS

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