By Joaquim Moreira Salles
10 November 2014
(Climate Progress) – The Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has extended protections to scores of migratory birds, fish and mammals.
Over 100 countries came together in Quito, Ecuador for a week of “intense negotiations” that concluded over the weekend and resulted in a record 31 new species gaining protection status. Polar bears, frequently invoked as a symbol of the impacts of climate change on animals, were among the species awarded greater protections by the UN Conservation body.
Signatory countries are required to pass laws and enter into international agreements that ensure the conservation of animals added to the list. However, mere addition to the list does not allow for the sanctioning of violating countries. Addition amounts to an international legal recognition that the species in question is threatened, and often leads to stricter conservation agreements between the parties involved.
“The decisions made by Governments at the CMS Conference reflects the growing awareness that the responsibility for protecting wildlife is a shared one, and that the threats to wildlife can be tackled most effectively through global cooperation,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
Marine life composed the bulk of species granted protection status, as 21 shark, ray and sawfish species were added to the list. The hammerhead shark and the Cuvier’s beaked whale — the deepest diving whale in the world — were among the newly protected marine species. The countries in Quito also agreed to stop the practice of finning, which involves cutting the fins off of sharks and releasing them back into the sea to die. Shark fins are a delicacy in some countries.
The delegations also passed resolutions dealing with plastic debris in the ocean, and issued guidelines to implementing renewable energy like hydro, solar, and wind power in animal-friendly manners. [more]