Sharks, vultures, and lions now protected globally under Convention on Migratory Species

November 2nd, 2017

Sharks, vultures, and lions are just some of the migratory species that are now protected globally following the signing of new international legislation at last week’s Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

The 12th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the Convention met in the Philippines last week to amend the CMS to include protections for 34 additional species – 12 mammals, 16 birds, and six fish.

COP12 was the largest meeting in the Convention’s history, with over 1,000 participants from 126 countries in attendance to review and modify the protective status of a wide range of migratory species.

There are now over 650 species protected under Appendix I and/or Appendix II of the Convention. Appendix I lists endangered migratory species and demands all relevant parties to rigorously protect listed species.

Appendix II is less strict and only requires international agreements to improve a species’ conservation status.

The Convention’s Executive Secretary, Bradnee Chambers, said that the meeting was a “real game changer for the Convention” with a record number of proposals for species protection accepted,

“We look forward to working closely with Parties over the next few years to expand our role as the preeminent guardian of migratory animals across the world” he added.

lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs will be protected under the new African Carnivores Initiative Photo: William H. Majoros

Sharks, vultures, and lions

Six species of cartilaginous fish (sharks and rays) have received greater protection, with the Whale Shark, the world’s largest fish, now listed in Appendix I of the CMS.

Matthew Collis, Director of International Policy at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said that sharks are in “desperate need of protection” as the “relentless demand for shark fins” is pushing them towards extinction.

“We hope this new commitment by countries from around the world will signal the beginning of renewed efforts to control shark fisheries and trade,” added Mr Collis.

A wide range of Africa’s large carnivores are also set to benefit as the CMS and Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will now join forces to conserve lions, leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs in the new African Carnivores Initiative.

A Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan has also been established to better protect this group of ecologically important scavengers across more than 120 countries.

White-wided Dolphin Photo: NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (NOAA)
White-sided Dolphin Photo: NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (NOAA)

Irish Perspective

Ireland has been a Party to the convention since 1983. Atlantic white-sided dolphins, minke whales, white tailed sea-eagles and curlews are currently protected by the CMS.

Birdwatch Ireland’s Policy Officer Fintan Kelly said that last week’s conference showed a “stronger commitment” by countries to “conserve the planet’s migratory wildlife”.

Mr Kelly told The Green News said that cross-border conservation is something we “take for granted” in Europe but that close cooperation through the likes of the CMS is needed to “safeguard the world’s biodiversity hotspots” elsewhere on the planet.

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