The voice of the Pacific islands at the CMS COP12

25 October 2017, Manila, Philippines - Four Pacific islands are a Party to the CMS, the global agreement that promotes international collaboration to conserve migratory species.

The Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau and Samoa help make up the 124 parties to the CMS which are now holding their twelfth Conference of the Parties in Manila, the Philippines.

On the agenda at the CMS COP12 is the proposal for 35 migratory species to be listed for conservation under the CMS, this includes the proposal from the governments of Samoa and Sri Lanka to list the blue shark.
We hear from the Pacific island delegates at the CMS COP12 as they tell us – "why the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wildlife is important for your country?"

                        Cooks CMS
Mr Marino Wichman, Cook Islands:
"The Cook Islands is a Large Ocean State, commanding an ocean space of approximately 2 million sq km. It is a pivotal aspect of our everyday lives, harbouring vast amounts of biodiversity and migratory species our people rely on for physical, spiritual and cultural sustenance. It is important that we protect the fragile environments that migratory species rely on in our boarders, so that current and future generations can enjoy.
The Cook Islands is committed to building a global reputation for the ecologically sustainable use of its ocean resources. In making this commitment, the Cook Islands is establishing 'Marae Moana' which will be an integrated system of management for the Cook Islands' ocean space. This is demonstrated through the passing of the Marae Moana Act 2017, which establishes a marine protected area over the entire Cook Islands two million sq km EEZ but allows for multiple use. At the same time it establishes 50 nautical mile Marine Protected Areas around each of the islands where industrial activities are prohibited. A marine spatial planning framework is established and allows for the protection of other areas at a small scale or in significant parts of the deep ocean."

Fiji CMS
Ms Saras Sharma (on left), Fiji:
"Fiji is positioned along the migratory route of many of the migratory species such as the Endangered Oceania Humpback population. It also is a breeding, calving, nesting and foraging ground for different species of whales, turtles and sharks. In addition there is a very strong cultural connection to the presence of this species and these are embedded in our history and traditional values. There is economical, biological and sentimental values associated with this species and the people of Fiji. The CMS Convention is instrumental in ensuring that the protection and management of this species is strengthened along the jurisdiction of other countries that these animals use for traveling, feeding, breeding or any other activity. It also enhances the opportunity to join efforts and voluntary commitments in protecting some of the iconic species in the world, largely threatened in many ways, and with populations threatened with extinction. It also helps mandate Parties and third parties to provide and share information to address current gaps at the national level towards conserving these species. This also shows our commitment to save this iconic species."

Palau CMS
Mr McQuiston Temol, Palau:
"The Government of Palau strongly believes that it's important to take action to protect and conserve all marine and terrestrial resources, both living and non-living. Palau also understands that declaring a Marine Sanctuary for all species will not be enough alone. It is important to take action regionally and internationally as an oceanic state in a collaborative effort for maximum potential success. Simply to save ourselves, the custodians of this living earth. Their future is our future, the CMS opens doors and makes a difference." 

Ms Maria Satoa, (on right) Samoa:
"The CMS provides the framework for binding collaborative conservation at the international level for avian, aquatic and terrestrial wildlife throughout their range. Since these species are migratory in nature, crossing boundaries across countries and states; this calls for a harmonised stand to ensure their effective conservation and protection. The importance of wildlife to humankind and nature is invaluable, we must ensure their sustainability and that of associated ecosystems, and hence that of the numerous benefits they provide for our people now and the future. For this we need global management and international co-ordination. After all, their future is our future." 

Ms Shirley Malielegaoi, (on left) Samoa:
"I feel that if we don't make a stand or play an active role to protect our migratory species, no one will. So it falls to us the custodians of the biggest ocean of the planet to take that first step, voice out our concerns and stand up for those countries who are less able. We need to remind ourselves that this relationship is as old as time, those wild animals rely on us and in turn we rely on them, we are their future and they are our future."

The CMS COP12 is held from 23 to 28 October, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. Under the CMS Groupings, the Pacific islands is part of the Oceania Region which consists of Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Palau, Philippines and Samoa. For more information please visit:

Work to enhance and strengthen Pacific representation and engagement at the CMS COP12 is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts as well as the Second Phase of the ACPMEA project, an initiative of the African Caribbean Pacific group of countries, funded by the European Union, implemented in partnership by UN Environment and executed by SPREP.
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