Governments Slap Down Efforts To Protect Endangered Marine Species
Governments slap down efforts to protect endangered marine species at UN conference
The 9th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) has ended in Rome, Italy. WDCS welcomes the progress made for some marine conservation efforts, especially relating to:
1. the marine mammal species that have been added to the appendices of the Convention in recognition that their conservation now requires urgent action, including the Irrawaddy dolphin,
2. the decision of the Convention for the first time to initiative action for Arctic marine migratory species threatened by climate change, including the narwhal, and
3. an agreement to progress an agreement for cetaceans in the Indian Ocean and in South East Asia .
However, serious concerns have also been expressed about a general trend of disengagement by the Parties in concrete conservation action and the resources provided for conservation projects by the Parties to CMS insult any serious plans for progress.
WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, says that the new listings of small whales and dolphins in the CMS Appendices1 should be an urgent signal for the need of better protection but “there is not much more left to celebrate” stresses a spokesperson from WDCS in Rome.
During the week, WDCS experts have formally presented their concerns about the increasing threats posed by climate change, ocean acidification and marine noise pollution. They have also reported the new discovery that the acidification of the oceans, caused by extra CO2 in the atmosphere will affect the transmission of noise in the seas, making them even noisier.
Mark Simmonds, WDCS Director of Science, comments “This is further evidence of the perilous state of our seas and that factors negatively impacting marine wildlife may interact in yet unpredicted and highly negative ways. The international conservation community needs to be able to act fast and act strongly. The Noise Resolution submitted by the European Union and agreed here today does little to progress this matter and is remarkably convoluted.”
WDCS also questions the seriousness of global engagement of European governments towards species conservation. Hiding behind the veil of the world economic crisis, European countries have decided to block progress with process, slowing the work of the Convention to the detriment of the species it exists to protect, even though conservation is much more expensive if we wait until it is too late. We are also concerned about the lack of transparency with which the European countries work here. It is extremely difficult to determine what their perspectives are and what they are trying to achieve.
Earlier this year the Government of Mexico, although not a Party to CMS, announced that they had invested nearly €15 million to save the critically endangered vaquita from becoming extinct. Only 150 animals remain in the small area of the Mar de Cortés. An important step from one country to save one species, but clearly teaching us it is cheaper when action is taken before it gets so late.
“It is staggering to recognize that at this meeting, Parties have passed a global budget of less than €7 million for the convention budget with the small sum of only €170,000 being allocated across conservation projects for the next three years. This is all that Parties have set aside to safeguard the fate of 116 endangered species listed on Appendix I, and a further 202 species in desperate need of international cooperation listed on appendix II. This is a slap in the face of the future of species conservation. ” says Nicolas Entrup, spokesperson from WDCS in Rome today
“So many past CoP decisions still languish on the shelf gathering dust. The agreed budget is a clear indication that governments, especially those of industrial countries, erode to reach the objectives of the convention and put conservation initiatives at risk. This is a betrayal for the Parties from Africa, Asia and Latin America that have attended the CoP in a hope of a better future for migratory species and who bitterly need the appropriate resources to prevent species from extinction” concludes Entrup from WDCS.
WDCS has worked closely with CMS since 2002 and in 2005 signed a formal Partnership Agreement and initiated a three year Joint Programme of Work designed to directly support CMS’s own Strategic Plan (2006-2011), which directly represents the decision of CMS Parties and not WDCS.
In the past three years WDCS has committed itself to fulfilling commitments made under the Joint Programme of Work, and in the process has contributed over €1 million worth of support to the work of CMS.