Rome was apparently not built in a day.
In a closing press release from the CMS COP, Rob Hepworth, the CMS Executive Secretary is quoted as saying the following:
"The convention’s development over the last three years has been remarkable – we have doubled our species agreements, trebled our project donations, and run our first high-profile global awareness campaign – Year of the Dolphin. 18 new countries have joined us in the global effort to conserve migratory species. The conference has shown its confidence in our strategy, and increased our budget modestly in real terms despite the global financial crisis.However we now have to stretch our resources that much further still to protect the birds, mammals and marine creatures which journey around planet earth.”
We report here on the final session of the last day.
After lunch it was fast and furious. All the hanging resolutions were swiftly concluded and many delegates had either already disappeared or were clearly ready to do so. This situation may well have created a pressure to move to poor compromises that might not have otherwise happened; but that can also be said to be part of the strategy of some.
The final outcomes were something like this:
The proposal to list the saker falcon on Appendix I was withdrawn but it was agreed that unless there is improvement in its conservation status, the species will be listed on Appendix I at COP 10.
The cheetah did make it to Appendix I but it is expected that three countries who have it in international trade will take out formal reservations.
The sharks had a difficult meeting but the mako sharks (longfin and shortfin) and the porbeagle shark, were listed on Appendix II. The northern hemisphere population of the spiny dogfish joined them. Denmark, on behalf of the Faroe Islands, placed a formal reservation on the porbeagle shark.
Seven cetacean species were listed on CMS Appendices I and II at the conference: the Irrawaddy Dolphins, the Black SeaBottlenose Dolphin the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin got Appendix I status. The Clymene, Risso's Dolphin, the Mediterranean population of the Bottlenose Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise were given Appendix II protection.
The marine species, by-catch, ocean noise, and climate change resolutions were all concluded but not without there being some disappointments in their language. The budget agreed for the next 3 year period was only a 3.3% increase on the previous. A decrease in real terms and a disappointment to many.
The final comments from WDCS on this meeting, issued as a press briefing can be found here.
WDCS thanks Italy, FAO and Rome for hosting the meeting. We enjoyed being in the city (although we would have liked more time to have seen it). We thank the meeting chairs and the CMS officials for all their hard work, and also the all the delegates from the 100 countries, 70 NGOs and elsewhere who came to Rome to do their best for the migratory animals.
Entries tagged as CMS COP 9
Niki at breakfast
Darren of IFAW attempting to navigate the FAO building
The team from WWF
Veronica Frank (Noise expert)
Patrick Van Klaveren of Monaco and the eye of a gorilla
Some conference literature (or possibly some 'wanted posters')
FOR MORE PICTURES AND A COMENTARY OF WHAT HAPPENED AT THE COP GO TO THE EARTH NEGOTIATIONS BULLETIN (ENB) BY CLICKING HERE.
ENTER THE GLADIATORS.
Today is going to be tough and we enter the last day of the COP with some trepidation. Much has been left to be settled today – all the resolutions and the budget and the clock is ticking.
The Ladies of WDCS (and the Coliseum)
Anyway, when the news about the reduced budget for the Convention breaks, we have to respond strongly, hence WDCS, with Niki Entrup speaking, recognizes the tough financial crises that Countries are experiencing globally. However, he adds, allow us to stress an example that demonstrates species conservation becomes prohibitively expensive when we wait too long before acting to conserve species. The Mexican Government is currently spending in excess of US$18million to save one small cetacean species, the Vaquita, to prevent its extinction. Looking at the budget in front of us, we are extremely concerned therefore, as it includes just €170.000 for conservation projects over the next triennium for all migratory species. WDCS reiterates our appreciation of voluntary funds contributed by Parties, especially
A little later, as the progress on resolutions is reported by the people who have been chairing the various working groups, WDCS intervenes again on the report from the Marine Working Group:
"WDCS congratulates the chairmen and the working group on their hard word; and is sorry that he has to make the comments that he has to. The noise resolution was always going to be a difficult one to conclude, but the changes that have been made to the resolution now on the floor are substantive and not simply editorial as had been suggested they would be last night.
WDCS finds the resolution weak and convoluted anyway but was able to take some comfort from some reference to precautionary action – a reference which has disappeared over night.""
The Chairman says that there will be the opportunity to look at this again.
Norway now makes a general comment about the need to work more closely with FAO and CITES especially with regard to proposals to list marine species and he suggests some language that can be included in the marine species resolution.
Costa Rica for the
The Chairman offers his view – he agrees that the Scientific Council must give advice; we have to consider the limits and difficulties for them – we need to act before it is too late he says (quoting something said by WDCS earlier) and the council must be able to raises problems when it seems them; and it has problems with funds and resources.
Further resolutions come forward and there are proposals concerning the resolution for new agreements to include some language on elephants.
Rather curiously, Alison Wood of WDCS is waving the WDCS flag and asking to speak. What is going on? Surely WDCS is not going to intervene on these animals. (She is still waving.) Bill Perrin (marine mammal expert) and
Bill Perrin is finally given the floor. He exlains that in the scientific council they discussed the development of a new
Ah, we see now WDCS, Bill and
Good says the Chair and we pause for another signing ceremony.
Then we come to the climate change resolution and there is much discussion, despite several meetings of a working group. Several
An impassioned plea from WWF follows. Their spokesman explains that the ‘mitigation’ being called for relates exclusively to actions for the animals concerned. Will her arguments prevail? We shall see but that clock really is ticking loudly now as we break for lunch.
Bill and the porpoise.
The focus of today’s meeting here in a rather chilly Rome, are the proposals for species listings (putting animal species on the Convention’s two appendices to try to promote more action to protect them) and progressing all the various draft resolutions. We are also doing a lunch-time event with WWF on the threat posed by Climate Change today…. However there will undoubtedly be many conflicting urgent activities. We start our day in this part of historic Rome by walking past the Coliseum, then alongside the Forum (the central hill where Rome was founded); drawing level with the Circus Maximus, we carefully navigate across the Roman traffic and into the FAO building. We squeeze into our seats, plug in the computers, get the papers out, and quickly fall sound asleep….
No no no. We awake and listen carefully as the Chair sorts out the agenda for the day and then we go into the species listing proposals: The Secretariat, in the form of the redoubtable Marko Barberi, calls out the name of each species and then asks if there are any objection to them being included (firstly in Appendix 1). So it is that the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin moves to Appendix 1 with no opposition (silent cheering from WDCS). The Irrawaddy dolphin follow suit (more hearty but inaudible applause). Similarly, the Atlantic humpback dolphin moves onto appendix one (there is silence, but not in our hearts). Then we come to the cheetah… anyone object? ‘No’ says the chair, but there is a shout and it is Norway asking for the floor. He has a general point, and speaks about CITES and wishes that this proposal had been discussed with them. However, he generally supports the cheetah … but the cheetah at this point is stopped from moving to Appendix 1. The west African manatee, however, quietly joins this Appendix. We move on to Appendix two proposals. The Egyptian vulture steps up onto this list. A small falcon proves more controversial and is taken away for further consideration. Some warblers are listed and then we get to the harbour porpoise listing proposal for its west Africa population. Are there any objections. A small pause and then Norway can be seen to be waving his card again.
He says that it is unclear to him if the proposal meets the criteria and he suggests that there is no population estimate. The species is widespread and common globally he suggests. Mauretania who sponsors the proposal speaks up and notes it has been validated by the CMS scientific council (and we note it is also supported by the range states).
WDCS hands hover over the button that asks for the floor… but the chair asks for the advice of the Scientific Councillor for marine mammals, Bill Perrin.
Bill speaks. His intervention is short and to the point: this population is morphologically distinct, geographically separated and abundance is low. Those WDCS hands are hovering again, but maybe Bill has done the job… Norway comments that we are all working towards the conservation of species and he does not want a wide debate about application of he CMS criteria; the appendix 2 criteria are pretty weak… they need elaboration. But he goes on to accept the proposal and the porpoise is listed. [WDCS goes back to resting, quietly]
We move to the Mediterranean population of the fascinating Risso’s dolphin. Norway indicates that it has the same comment here. Monaco comments that we must be consistent (but we suspect that he does not mean this in the same way that Norway might). However, Norway again does not block consensus. The Mediterranean population of the bottlenose dolphin and the Clymene dolphin go the same way. The African wild dog and Saiga antelope also join Appendix 2. However, a few species are objected to.
So, failing to reach the appendices at this time are the Cheetah, the sharks and the Seika falcon but we may come back to them. One of the scientific councilors suddenly speaks up powerfully for the cheetah which he notes is critically endangered in much of its range and in the face of his robust defense, the Norwegian opposition subsides. Lunchtime sees the climate change briefing…. In a remote room in a distant corridor of the vast FAO building a small crowd of the friends of the climate gather. One delegate turns up for the free sandwiches and then does not attend the briefing (what surprised me is that he found the place… possibly he was lost). Many mentions are made of the narwhal including an impassioned plea for its survival. For more about this event see the report of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. A little earlier Nicola Hodgins signs the text of the new memorandum of agreement for small cetaceans in west Africa on the behalf of WDCS.
Nicola and Heidrun Frisch
The other half of lunch is taken up with an urgent working group and in fact the rest of the day is about progressing the texts of many resolutions – these include the important marine species resolution (which includes reference to Arctic species); the noise resolution; the bycatch resolution and others.
In the evening many working groups break out in many remote and hard-to-find parts of building. Many delegates will probably still be wondering around the building tomorrow trying to find their way out…. hopefully they will because tomorrow is the final curtain. The big questions now will be will the budget for the convention be approved, will it be adequate to the task and what will all those resolutions contain in the end…. will they survive, will they be useful? For a fuller explanation about the species listings please go here.
Niki and Silvia
Further to yesterday's press conference here in Rome about the threat posed by marine noise pollution, here is a summary of the evidence:Navigating the oceans of noise
Underwater noise pollution is a significant threat to whales, dolphins and porpoises, but one that is still in many respects poorly understood. These are animals that primarily experience their world acoustically and, as such, they can be expected to be especially vulnerable to changes in the marine acoustic environment. The available evidence more than supports this. Increased noise levels may produce an acoustic fog which prevents them communicating normally. Previously, some of the larger whales may have been in communication across entire ocean basins and now such long distance communication may be drowned out by human noise. The full implications of this for these animals are unclear but an important function that may have helped distant animals find each other and perhaps also their key habitats may now be compromised.
Noise may also startle and disrupt normal activities as it does for terrestrial animals. When these activities include breeding and feeding or migration, population level impacts may be induced. Historically, in some countries, loud noise has even been used to drive whales in hunts, and there is growing evidence that loud noise today has inadvertently caused strandings and death. In particular, unusual multiple mortalities of deep diving beaked whales have been associated with certain military sonars. Whales from these events have been found to have distinctive embolisms in their tissues (similar to the lesions caused in human divers in the condition known as the ‘bends’) and the most likely mechanism for their production is that the whales exceed their physiological tolerances by being forced to change their normal diving patterns, perhaps as a panic response to loud noise. It is also possible that loud noise may directly cause damage to organs at high exposure levels. The same embolisms have recently been found in other species indicating that they may too be affected. In fact some non-beaked whale species have been associated with unusual stranding events, including high profile events this year in the UK and Madagascar which are still being investigated.
Furthermore, a rather unexpected link has recently been made between rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and ocean acoustics. As sea water becomes more acidic, in addition to other effects, scientists have recently calculated that this will change underwater acoustics and make the seas noisier, with potential knock-on affects for cetaceans and human activities. The researchers concerned commented that ‘Ambient noise levels in the ocean within the auditory range critical for environmental, military, and economic interests are set to increase significantly due to the combined effects of decreased absorption and increasing sources from mankind's activities’.
The main sources of loud extraneous noise in the oceans are boat traffic (typically the bigger vessels are the noisier ones at least at lower frequencies), seismic surveys (as used in marine fossil fuel exploration and monitoring) and military exercises. Perhaps not surprisingly, the links between military activities and problems for whales have proven to be highly controversial and hotly debated. They have also been the source of numerous court cases in the US and the matter has even reached the US Supreme Court and the White House.
Noise pollution should be regarded as an emergent threat and parallels can be made between our current state of knowledge and where we were with chemical pollution and the threat that it posed to cetaceans some decades ago. Cetaceans, as deep diving marine animals, are particularly difficult to study and there are good ethical reasons (as well as practical ones for the larger species) that quite rightly inhibit exposing them to potentially harmful stimuli. In the 1960s and 1970s it started to become clear that cetaceans were likely to be vulnerable to the immunosuppressive and reproductive-impairment effects of certain ubiquitous chemicals. The evidence was based on high levels identified in their bodies, rapid transfer of these substances to their young and knowledge of how such substances affect other species. In other words, the evidence was circumstantial but pointed towards a significant problem. However, showing a simple cause-effect relationship was illusive. Fortunately action to address this nascent threat did not wait for such proof. Most recently studies based on large numbers of stranded bodies have strengthened the evidence that cetaceans are harmed by some chemicals because, for example, measurable effects on immune function can be seen above certain levels in tissues.
In the case of noise pollution, the evidence is again based on exposure levels, some field observations and some pathology (some of it very unusual), but like other threats in the environment, ‘scientific proof’ is again notably hard to find, and, arguably, this is not helped by some aspects of the issue being of so high profile. Hence we are in a situation where we are weighing the evidence; a situation where the evidence indicates a significant problem requiring a precautionary response. The International Whaling Commission recently looked at this matter and identified (IWC Resolution 1998-6) the impacts of anthropogenic noise as a priority topic for investigation within its Scientific Committee, and that the Scientific Committee, in its report to the 56th meeting of the IWC, concluded that military sonar, seismic exploration, and other noise sources such as shipping pose a significant and increasing threat to cetaceans, both acute and chronic, and made a series of recommendations to member governments regarding the regulation of anthropogenic noise.
The question for CMS at this COP is how to best address the threats posed by noise pollution. CMS has already accepted this as an issue (CMS Resolution 8.22) and now needs to find an appropriate way forward. We recommend the development of precautionary guidelines and clear advice to parties, building on and linked to ongoing work conducted under the auspices of ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS, and designed to reduce noise levels and mitigate the effects of noise pollution of all kinds. We also recommend an ongoing vigorous dialogue with other relevant bodies.
For more information see:
WDCS publication ‘Oceans of Noise’ available as a PDF at: http://www.wdcs.org/submissions_bin/OceansofNoise.pdff
L.S. Weilgart 2007. The impacts of anthropogenic ocean noise on cetaceans and implications for management. Canadian Journal of Zoology 85: 1091-1116.
Lunchtime finds Team WDCS split in two with Alison Wood contributing to a celebration of the Year of the Dolphin in the Austrian Room... far away, Mark Simmonds (in the Iran Room) is contributing to a press event about the threat posed by noise to cetaceans.
The net result of this is that Alison gets a good lunch and Mark gets none... but hopefully some articles are generated in the press. We shall see.
Meanwhile here are some pictures:
Mark Simmonds and CMS Executive Secretary at the Press Conference
And back to the report of the full day:Wishing the gorillas well.
The Chair opens the meeting and announces that we shall be considering agenda 21, 22, 24a, 23 c and d, 16 a and b, 17 a and e and, obviously, 20.
It is December 3rd and we are back in the COP of the Convention for Migratory species The WDCS team disappears rapidly under a pile of meetings papers, half drafted interventions, detailed instructions and computer cables, and spend the next few hours trying to work out what the heck is going on. We move seemingly randomly between the Conference of the Party (with one chairman) and the Meeting of the Whole (with another), for reasons that no one seems to fully understand.
Actually it turns out that we begin with a very pleasant, if slightly confusing, morning here at the COP where several countries pledge substantial sums of money to help the gorillas (we are after all heading towards the CMS Year of the Gorilla). Germany pledges 200,000 Euros (which brings riotous applause) and then details how it should be spent; France 137,000 Euros (more applause) and Monaco 30,000 Euros (and more applause again).
We move on to Partnerships with CMS and WDCS speaks to say how pleased it has been with the progress of the Year of the Dolphin and that we hope that the Year of the Gorilla is also a big success. (No applause but some gorilla orientated-organisations smile).
The programme of work for terrestrial mammals follows; and antelopes, polar bears, and others gallop by. (Norway notes that other bodies are working on polar bears and perhaps implies that the same is true for other animals.)
Plans for new CMS agreements pop up and Australia speaks eloquently about its aspirations for marine work. The EU says very little.
Marine species are touched on later and India notes that it supports the Ganges river dolphin listing which is being proposed here. In the discussion of other listing proposals the Vice Chair of the Scientific Committee reported some problems with some of the proposed species, including two sharks, one barbary sheep and a Falcon. Some discussion followed and we have yet to learn the final outcomes.
WDCS winds up to make an intervention…. But the chairman looks at a long list of speakers and says ‘look’ just say if you support or not. So we shorten our intervention and get ready again…. But he closes the Conference of the Parties and opens the Meeting of the Whole (or maybe the other way around) and we have to wait until some other time.
There is then an announcement that agenda items 24, 20, 9.30 rev 2 and 9.5 will follow (or something like that) – and WDCS disappears again under a pile of papers.
Numerous working groups are struck during the day and just to add to variety are scattered around the geographically-named meetings rooms on different floors around the vast maze of the FAO building. Many delegates get lost and turn up to late to comment on matters of huge import to their governments.
In the evening, just to add to the difficulty of navigating the building, FAO turns some of the lifts off between floors.
One of us (we won’t identify him, although he is still grumbling about the lack of lunch) in the evening had sequential meetings in the Cuba Room at 6pm (Climate Change); The Mexico Room at 7pm (the Marine Resolution); 8pm in Ethiopia (Noise)… and other team members were also in the 6pm Future of the Convention meeting in the Green Room.
Much remains hanging in the air…. We hope we can report some more concrete progress tomorrow, meanwhile we can celebrate a little for the gorillas.
Day 2 opens. The rain is falling outside; part of
ASCOBANS (The North and Baltic Seas Agreement) follows with another thorough report. WDCS congratulates ASCOBANS, its Parties and the Secretariat on their hard work in this last period and calls for the Parties to redouble their efforts for small cetaceans in this region. WDCS comments that there have never been more threats to these animals and concrete actions are needed to conserve them. In particular the threat of bycatch must be addressed. The ongoing deaths of thousands of animals in fishing nets in the North East Atlantic, for example, is totally unacceptable and should urgently be addressed. We would also be remiss if we did not congratulate ASCOBANS on its hard work, the WDCS spokesman adds. There is a report-back on elephant work that follows; we move on to turtles; then UNEP reports on its work.
Over lunch we attend a rather scary marine species working group – a rather complicated line up of resolutions is being discussed. Lunch is grabbed out on the wet streets…. Then back into the ‘Meeting of the Whole’. In the afternoon, we start a discussion on the budget (this is swiftly withdrawn behind closed doors) and then bird flyways are discussed, including the situation of the Siberian Crane. This is a migratory flagships species – critically endangered and depends on large water areas to survive. For more about it see http://www.scwp.info.
All the delegates at the meeting are being given the gift of an animal adoption by the Italian Government – they have a choice of a Siberian crane, a saiga antelope or a bottlenose dolphin – the latter c/o WDCS.
The day closes with another working group on the climate change resolution and a reception on the famous 8th floor of the FAO building hosted by
WDCS CMS COP Team: Mark and Alison at the front, Niki and Nicola behind.
Here are the texts of a couple of interventions that we made today. Firstly on the budget:
WDCS believes that CMS is important. It is the only international implementing treaty that provides a flexible platform to develop measures that can be tailored to particular conservation needs, and has the mechanisms to implement on-ground conservation activities, attributes that offer a great potential for multiple threat mitigation and the protection of endangered species. The growth of Parties to CMS in the past triennium indicates that Governments agree with this position. Therefore, it cannot be overstated how important it is that the work of this convention is supported and encouraged to grow. We urge delegates at CMS CoP9 to give close attention to the issue of resources. The CMS Strategic Plan 2006-2011 demonstrates the breadth of work that is to make a significant contribution to the conservation of migratory species and biodiversity in the aquatic and terrestrial environments. No other convention has this mandate or capacity. CMS’s position in the global conservation effort is vital, and it is imperative that we sufficiently support the CMS in order to drive an agenda that is of the greatest importance to us all.And the WDCS opening statement:
Thank you chairman and thank you
WDCS has been honoured to operate as a CMS Partner and to also be one of the Founding Partners to the Year of the Dolphin. Through the three years we have worked closely with the CMS Secretariat and the Secretariat of ACCOBAMS, ASCOBANS and the Pacific Cetaceans MoU and TUI. We look forward to a similar relationship being developed with the Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU.
Despite the success of Year of the Dolphin, many cetacean species remain endangered or critically endangered and most populations still require conservation measures to secure their futures.
CMS has a central and important role in the conservation of these species and it is important that this Conference of the Parties takes this opportunity to progress important decisions and to position the convention for the decade ahead. We need to address the status of marine mammals listed by the convention but where currently no agreements cover their range, particularly addressing the situation of animals in the Arctic including the narwhal, as well as stimulating the progress of new agreements for cetaceans in the Indian Ocean and South East Asia.
We urge this Conference of the Parties to look for ways to strengthen the CMS Family; build CMS’s important role in cetacean conservation; increase CMS’s role with other multi-lateral environment agreements and most importantly to ensure substantive resources for marine work is provided within the core CMS budget.
We believe in CMS and we will participate in this Conference of the Parties and the work lies ahead of us all as serious stakeholders.
Outside the the sun shines over the Circus Maximus; down the road sits the Coliseum; this is the centre of Rome – the heart of an ancient city. Here on one of the famous hills, the city was founded. Here Romulus killed Remus. Here the Sabines came to a party and were forcibly detained and worse. Here, in the 21st century, we find the modern vast maze of a building that hosts the head quarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
This week FAO hosts the meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS). WDCS is here to follow a number of issues and encourage certain actions for cetaceans. On the agenda are issues affecting birds, bats, gorillas, antelopes, whales, dolphins and more besides. The opening ceremony starts a little after 10am. Present are a number of dignitaries, including at least one prince. Indeed, following an introduction from Robert Hepworth, the Executive Secretary of CMS, Prince Albert of Monaco welcomes everyone and talks about the first 25 years of CMS and the commitment of his own country; he mentions the Pelagos Sanctuary (concluded between Monaco, Italy and France) and the local cetacean agreement ACCOBAMS (which Monaco proudly hosts).
He also mentions the situation of the highly endangered Mediterranean monk seals. Migratory species, he says, allow our world to breathe. And he stresses that nature is necessary for our planet to survive; the survival of other species is key in the survival of our species. He highlights the plight of the gorillas, which are a major focus of this meeting. As he speaks photographs of endangered migratory species appear on the screen behind him. (We recognize one image of two leaping bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth as originating with our own Charlie Phillips.) He concludes to warm applause and Rob Hepworth thanks him for his comments and support, especially with regard to CMS’s Year of the Dolphin.
The Italian Minister for Environment, Land and Sea speaks next. She describes the biodiversity of Italy, the need for the best international partnership and her pride in the new Italian Atlas of Migratory Species. She also tells us that Rome has just set up a center for the rehabilitation of bats (which live in the many nooks and crannies of Rome’s ruins). Italy also has a lot of sea with migratory species (and she too mention the Pelagos sanctuary). She also notes that Italy will soon have the presidency of the G8 and commits to work there to the benefit of the environment.
The Prince, the CMS Executive Secretary and the Italian Minister.
The Environment Commissioner of the city of Rome comes to the microphone next and talks enthusiastically about the natural wealth of Rome. He mentions many statistics including 2,500 species of insects (14% of the Italian total). 30 mammal species are also found within the city boundary and he stresses that they are working hard to enhance this. Then a new bat agreement is signed and there is an exodus from the platform. The prince leaves with the Minister and their entourages.
The CMS executive director now tries to introduce Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (the body that overseas the work of a number of agreements including CMS). He is pre-recorded and pops up on the screen… but there is no sound. So the film is abruptly stopped after a few minutes of Steiner miming and the last (but not the least) speaker of the opening ceremony the WDCS CEO, Christopher Butler Stroud, is called on to contribute. The CMS Secretary introduces him noting that WDCS is one of CMS’s strongest partners in recent years – and a founding partner of Year of the Dolphin. Chris moves to the microphone and starts with a few words of Italian… before he gets much further he is interrupted by Achim Steiner, who has come back to life on the big screen. The recording of Achim is again stopped and Chris resumes. He looks for the slides that he has painstaking chosen as a backdrop to his presentation but the big screen only shows the start of the Steiner film. Chris’s speech (which we have posted on this blog) is greeted by much applause.
Mr Hepworth thanks him for that stirring speech and for the support that WDCS gives CMS almost on a daily basis. Then Achim Steiner is allowed to speak, although acoustic problems cause his tone to occasionally become rather trombone-like. He talks about the history and the awareness-rising activities of CMS. He also salutes the ten CMS champions, which include our own Margi Prideaux (who later in the day receives an award.) He wishes the meeting well. The opening ceremony ends.
There is a swift break and we start the business of the meeting, with Italy in the Chair. Initially this focuses on various procedural matters, including formally letting all the NGO observers including WDCS in. Reports on the effectiveness and status of the Convention and its daughter agreements are presented. 110 countries are now parties. We hear from the Standing Committee and Scientific Council. A presentation on climate change follows .This includes a mention of narwhals and the threat posed by a decline in krill. A discussion then follows around the issue of the Climate Change resolution proposed by Australia. WWF and a little later WDCS speak up for the development of a new resolution to recognize the plight of arctic marine species. This is a little awkward because no such text has been circulated and the recommendation of the Scientific Council on this theme has not yet been circulated. For the countries, Monaco speaks up boldly in support of this issue too. The chair sums up and asks the Australians to try to revise their resolution to address this. Monaco asks for the floor again to say that we need a separate resolution. Ok, says the Chair, let’s work on this and we need something by tomorrow afternoon. Avian flu is discussed at some length. It’s important but we will not dwell on it.
Then Heidrun Frisch of the CMS Secretariat gives a rousing presentation on the behalf of migratory marine species. This details the extensive work of the secretariat, partner organizations and others on this theme. Discussion on some aspects of this including bycatch and climate change follow. Monaco again raises arctic species. Some speakers notice that some of the issues need to include consideration of birds. IFAW speaks up to support all the marine species initiatives. The US speaks (probably for the first time at a CMS COP as this is their first attendance) to broadly support initiatives. WWF also makes a supportive intervention. The EU seemed less enthusiastic, but did support the bycatch resolution although they were worried about harmonizing it with the work of ASCOBANS. New Zealand seemed pleased about things.
The IWC Secretariat notes how much work on all these matters they were already doing. The main meeting closes. A climate change working group breaks out up in the India room two floor higher in the vast FAO meeting (many delegates get lost trying to find it). Simultaneously, the evening event celebrating the CMS Champions occurs on the ground floor (Margi Prideaux is given this award) … and then shortly after this everyone is treated to some rather nice food and drinks on the eighth floor.
Here we open our coverage from Rome of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Migratory Parties:
CMS COP9 High level Opening Ceremony,
"It is rare that one NGO speaks for all NGOs, and I am honored to have been given this opportunity. For one thing, it means that I can look around the room at my NGO colleagues here and see all of them sitting on the edge of their seats wondering precisely what I am about to say on their behalf!Despite our differences in recent years, I feel much closer to them all than I have in the past. In early 2007, WDCS, together with our colleagues represented here, awoke to the shock of the first cetacean species, the baiji, or
On behalf of the NGO Partners to CMS, I wish you well for the deliberations of this CoP."