But what of the Bobolink?
It is tense in the big meeting hall. There are rumours that parties may have been looking at the wrong versions of revised resolutions. There are rumours that something has gone wrong down in the dungeon in document control or on the website. There are rumours that some parties will be unhappy and this will block things from going forward at this last and final stage. Marine debris in particular has got clogged up somewhere and, presumably, as the stuff just won’t degrade, this could be highly ensnaring.
Meanwhile the rain is hammering down outside, the skies are dark and a storm may be gathering.
A frazzled European delegate passes by noting that he has been up all night firstly dealing with financial issues and then the Future Shape resolution re-write. (He seems to be in pretty good shape given the marathon session.)
The plenary is slow to start. Presumably correct versions of resolutions are being run to ground and scattered sleepy and bedraggled delegates are being retrieved from the city’s drains.
The Norwegian Secretary of State now addresses the meeting. She is very pleased to be here. Seeing so many people collected together makes her an optimist. You have not had an easy task she adds. Being an environmentalist is not easy (much nodding on the NGO benches). I became involved because of the love of animals, she adds. My colleagues (the other Norwegian Minister) told you how much we Norwegians love the migratory species and he told you what the Spring means to us, and hence how many Norwegians are born in January. However, he came from the south of Norway, I am from the middle, so I was born in February. Gentle laughter follows.
She continues: The lesser white-fronted goose a hundred years ago was numerous. Now they are so rare that the researchers know them all by name. We now work with all the countries on their migration route.
Wetlands are the most productive habitat on earth and she is pleased to see synergies being developed between conventions. Yesterday she attended the workshop on electrocution and collision with power lines. Millions of birds are being killed. It is good to see that people are becoming engaged. The work in Germany is impressive and inspiring.
Climate change and biodiversity loss are the biggest threat to humanity. And she then tells us a joke that she was ‘surprised’ to hear from a climate scientist:
One planet talks to another. The first planet says I am not well; I have homo sapiens! The other says don’t worry it will not last for long.
We need to send a strong message to the climate change meeting. The polar bear is an important indicator species. The situation for the little auk is similar. It has a very stressful life and it brings back food to [its] small children. As it becomes warmer so there is a prey change and this now threatens nesting success.
We must obtain climate change safeguards including protection for migratory species.
State Secretary Heidi Sørensen then goes on to say the following: “I am pleased to announce that Norway has decided to repeal the reservations of all species of whales and sharks on CMS Appendix II and the Great White shark on CMS Appendix I. This includes following different species of cetaceans: White-beaked dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, Killer whale, Narwhal, Pygmy right whale, Antarctic minke whale, Bryde’s whale, Fin whale, Sei whale, Sperm whale in addition to the Great white shark and Basking Shark. All these species will benefit from international collaboration for their management and conservation. We already cooperate with other countries on small cetaceans, for instance when it comes to bycatch in fisheries.”
The newly appointed chairman Dr Spina is now called to address the congregation. He is delighted to have been appointed and looks forward to his future work; he thanks his predecessor.
A list of distinguished scientists who are the appointed experts for the Scientific Council are now identified. This includes Bill Perrin for Aquatic Mammals and Barrington Baker for Bycatch. That rare old bird John O’Sullivan (the bird expert) is sadly retiring after 18 years.
Is there applause? No [shame there should have been for the retiring councillors] but we move swiftly on
The retiring Scientific Council Chair, John, reminds the congregation that it has been recommended that they should appoint a new councillor for climate change. (A proposal that originated in the Scientific Council and originally made we believe by the observer there for Luxembourg.)
Chairman Storkerson says that he understands that there has been discussion. Has anyone been identified?
The Secretariat says that there has been a climate change working group and the Chair person is Dr Colin Galbraith. A man with great expertise and it would seem to make good sense to designate him as the councillor.
Storkerson agrees. Colin is a ‘good guy’ and his promotion is acknowledged by applause. Some happy NGO-types celebrate this development with a subtle hand-shake.
The credentials committee chair from New Zealand then gives a long report on which credentials are in order. She adds that only Heads of States, Secretaries of States and foreign ministers are usually allowed to sign credentials and this is currently ambiguous at CMS and should be clarified and brought into line with international law. (So delegates if your credentials were signed this year by your environment or other minister that may not be acceptable next year.) Credentials signed by Ambassadors will also not be acceptable (the credentials committee previously were mistaken in this and apologise)
We now turn to the reports from the four in-session working groups.
Barry reports in very swiftly on the marine working group. The Committee of the Whole has agreed them says Barrington Baker and they were placed on the website reviewed over-night.
That is brief says the Chair thank you.
The newly-appointed climate change councillor Colin Galbraith (now wearing an old hat) reports in on the ongoing discussions on the Saker Falcon. They have agreed that concerted actions should begin for this bird immediately
The strategic plan working group has agreed a resolution text says the EU.
The bleary-eyed joint group on Budget and Future shape now reports in. This is the group that had no sleep. Their chairman Alfred carefully gives the groups detailed report. There is of course concern about costs.
The Chair thanks Alfred for his report and says that we must show the world that we mean business!
Clarification: here is the list of Norway’s reservations as recorded on the CMS website:
White-beaked dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris and
Atlantic white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus acutus (Appendix II): 12.1.89
Orca Orcinus orca and
Narwhal Monodon monoceros
(Appendix II): 11.12.91
Letter from Norway’s foreign minister to FRG
Formal reservation lodged against inclusion of:
Antarctic minke whale Balaenoptera bonaerensis (Appendix II),
Bryde’s whale B.edeni (App. II),
Fin whale B. physalus (App. 1+II),
Sei whale B.borealis (App. I+II),
Pygmy right whale Carpera marginata (App.II),
Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus (App. I+II),
Orca Orcinus orca (App. II),
Great white shark Carcharodon carcharias (App. I+II)
Note verbale from the Royal Norwegian Embassy to the German Foreign Office dated
24 February 2006 entered a reservation against the inclusion of the Basking Shark (Cethorhinus maximus) in Appendices I and II.
A coffee break now occurs.
Chair Storkerson is now waving his gavel in the air. He means to take all listing proposals in a block. The bobolink is now mentioned. We have not heard of it for several days and feared it had become extinct.
There is one exception – the Saker Falcon.
The Chairman now wields his ‘hammer or whatever you call it in English’ and all species but this poor little falcon are listed.
Uzbekistan is now given the floor and talks about the Saker Falcon proposal. There was evidently much debate and a complex resolution has been passed forward which details future work.
The Migratory Wildlife Network notes quietly to surrounding NGO-types that the Saker Falcon may be too beautiful for its own good. (The WDCS delegation knows how this feels.)
The Swiss delegation calls for precision from the chairman. We need to know exactly what resolutions we are dealing with. (Things probably need to work like clockwork.)
Chairman Storkerson smiles kindly back at Switzerland and notes the number of the relevant resolution. He also notes that we will not come to the other resolutions until this afternoon. The plan for the Saker is approved.
We move to the resolution for the repeal of previous resolutions introduced by Robert Ragg of the Secretariat recently ejected from mission control in the basement for this purpose. Recommendations include that resolutions should be time-limited and they should be consolidated, but not always.
The EU (in the form of the distinguished lawyer from DEFRA) thinks more work needs to be done on this. Some resolutions referred to have already been retired others proposed for retirement have not in fact been concluded. Hence, more time needs to be spent to sort this out.
Chairman Storkeson concludes that this resolution is not ready for adopted and sees some nodding (possibly those people who were up all night). We move on to relations with process of the appointment of the new CMS Executive Secretary (the reader will recall that the news that the current incumbent, Elizabeth, is retiring broke earlier in the week).
Monaco now signs the MoU on raptors and sharks and is applauded.