12th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species to meet in the Philippines

Wädenswil/Manila, 20th October 2017. From 23rd to 28th of October, 2017, delegates of more than 120 countries gather in Manila, the Philippines, for the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). The international marine conservation organisation OceanCare, official partner of CMS, calls on member states to step up their efforts against underwater noise, plastic pollution and hunting of aquatic animals, and to improve the conservation of marine migratory species.

CMS, also known as Bonn Convention, is a UN Agreement on animal species whose populations regularly cross national borders on their migrations, including migratory birds, terrestrial species like elephants and lions, and marine species such as cetaceans, sharks and turtles. The Agreement aims for close cooperation of relevant states who share a species’ range, which includes reproduction and foraging areas, as well as migration routes.

OceanCare will be represented at the conference in Manila by three experts. The organisation regards underwater noise and marine plastic pollution as the most pressing challenges for international cooperation to develop conservation measures. Another issue of great concern is the increasing hunt for marine species for human consumption, including cetaceans, sirenians, turtles and crocodiles, to compensate for declining fisheries resources in some regions of West Africa, South-East Asia and Latin America.

Incredible 10,000 kilometres:
This is the distance a humpback whale is covering every year between its foraging grounds and its reproduction area. Not only whales, but also marine turtles and other marine species are long-distance travellers. Mankind, however, actually a guest in the wet element, turned the oceans from a habitat into a danger zone. Nine million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans every year as a result of our increasingly excessive throwaway society – with deadly consequences for marine wildlife. Noise sources, for example airguns for petroleum exploration or military sonar to detect submarines, turn the oceans into a noise inferno, drive animals away from their migration routes or habitats, interfere with their communication and cause temporary hearing loss or even death. In addition, there is evidence that endangered species in coastal waters are increasingly over-harvested due to excessive industrial overfishing.

OceanCare demands solutions:
“We have to struggle everywhere with the effects of plastic pollution and work furiously on the rescue of animals entangled in plastic items. However, this has little effect if we cannot stop the influx of plastic waste entering the oceans in the first place”, says Fabienne McLellan, Director International Relations, and points to the numerous solution-oriented projects run by OceanCare, many of which also involve the private sector.

“When airguns for oil exploration emit explosive sound of up to 260 dB to the seafloor every 10 to 12 seconds for several weeks, the need for action is evident. We need stringent, comprehensive environmental impact assessment procedures in the approval process of noise-generating activities”, says Nicolas Entrup, marine noise spokesperson for OceanCare in cooperation with US-based organisation NRDC. Guidelines on such assessment procedures, developed by international experts, are presented at the conference for adoption.

“Sustainable fisheries management is crucial for restoring the subsistence of local fishing communities. We hope to cooperate on all levels, with government representatives, international fora, and above all local people, to restore the balance of the marine ecosystem and to efficiently protect endangered species from hunting”, says Joanna Toole, ocean policy consultant at OceanCare.

The OceanCare team at the conference – Nicolas Entrup, Fabienne McLellan and Joanna Toole – will regularly report about the course of events and also describe their personal impressions – see www.oceancare.org.