Manila, 28th October 2017. The 12th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS COP12) ends today in Manila, the Philippines. OceanCare, an international marine conservation organisation, congratulates the adoption of the Resolution on Marine Noise, which includes world first Guidelines for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for noise-generating activities. Conservationists urge the government of Montenegro, a CMS Party, to immediately use the guidelines and assess the impacts of a pending exploration proposal by the oil and gas industry which falls short of best practice. How they apply the guidelines will be an important test case of how seriously governments are prepared to manage the devastating impact of noise pollution in the marine environment. Recent studies have shown that noise activities can have fatal impacts on fish species and even zooplankton with severe consequences for the whole food web.

“The guidelines enable governments to see the truth behind EIAs submitted by proponents. This has made it a sensitive agenda item that faced stiff opposition and lobbying efforts by the oil and gas industry. We applaud the Parties who recognised the merits of the Guidelines and adopted them today in Plenary. This is a perfect timing, given the deadline for the assessment of the proposal for exploration activities in Montenegro is 1st November 2017 and we urge it to become a test case”, says Nicolas Entrup, Ocean Policy Consultant for OceanCare and NRDC.

OceanCare is also pleased with decisions to move forward with the crucial need to reduce the amount of plastic waste, and with work to identify and provide assistance to countries where aquatic wild meat has become a serious conservation concern.

The migratory species conservation meeting also adopted important decisions on: advancing consideration of animal culture in conservation (Resolution 21.1.32); identifying important marine mammal areas around the world (Resolution 24.2.1); exercising greater regulation of in-water interactions (swim-with) with marine wildlife to reduce impact on animals (Resolution 24.2.5); ensuring proper prohibition of the capture of dolphins and porpoises from the wild for public display (Resolution 24.2.4); and promoting conservation of whales in the South Atlantic (Resolution 24.2.6). Further, governments placed six shark, ray and fish species on the CMS’ lists for better protection.

Conservation Enforcement Action to be proven
In the past, poor implementation of conservation action has dogged some Parties. This resulted in intensive negotiations to ensure proper enforcement in the future. It was no surprise that the proposed “Review Mechanism” was the most contested and hotly debated topic of the Meeting. Switzerland and Norway championed an enforcement mechanism that allows for engagement of civil society and full transparency. “The finally adopted mechanism falls short of an ideal model and lacks transparency. Still, it’s the most important achievement for the Convention and will need to be proven”, says Nicolas Entrup.