Biodiversity & Ecosystem Management Headlines

Lists to protect migratory species: Pacific Conversations with SPREP

Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Palau and Samoa are the Pacific countries attending the Twelfth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS COP12) held from 23 to 28 October, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. With 124 Parties, the CMS provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.

Did you know that there are a range of 'Lists' on which species are placed based upon their conservation or population status? The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has a Red List that has assessed global species listing them in a range of different categories including Least Concern, Critically Endangered and more sadly, Extinct.

Under the CMS there are two lists, known as Appendices. Every three years a Conference of the Parties is held in which Parties can propose for a migratory species to be placed on either Appendix I or Appendix II. These proposals are then discussed and generally they are accepted by consensus, sometimes with amendments to meet concerns that have been expressed.

In exceptional circumstances, if no consensus can be reached, a listing proposal can be put to a vote by the Meeting and a two-thirds majority is required for the proposal to be accepted. Once a species is placed on one of these lists, countries that are Parties to CMS, are committed to conserving or protecting them.

For the conservation of migratory species, a collective approach is needed, and for the Pacific region, many of the marine migratory species hold an economic value, as well as a cultural value.

2PacConvo CMS Reef Manta Ray Maldives  Guy Stevens
Reef Manta Ray. Photo by Guy Stevens

In 2015, Fiji was successful in its proposal to list all nine species of Mobulid rays on both appendices of the CMS. Mobulid rays are vulnerable to overexploitation due to their low productivity and communal behaviour.

Appendix I focusses on endangered migratory species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all, or a significant portion, of their range. Range being their geographical distribution.

Parties that are a Range State to a migratory species listed in Appendix I must endeavour to strictly protect them by: prohibiting the taking of such species, with very restricted scope for exceptions; conserving and where appropriate restoring their habitats; preventing, removing or mitigating obstacles to their migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them.

Appendix II covers migratory species that have an unfavourable conservation status and require international agreements for their conservation and management, as well as those that have a conservation status which would significantly benefit from the international cooperation that could be achieved by an international agreement. The Convention encourages the Range States for species listed on Appendix II to conclude global or regional Agreements for the conservation and management of these species.

Thinking globally, regionally, and nationally will help care for species that live and migrate across different national jurisdictions. The more you know about the different ways we can help conserve our species, the more we can all help make informed decisions that will benefit our migratory species, and in turn, our Pacific communities.

Help give voice to this Pacific Conservation, learn more about the CMS at: http://www.cms.int/en/legalinstrument/cms
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