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Convention on Migratory Species meeting adopts stronger protection measures, including on ecological connectivity

The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP14) of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals ended with the adoption of a set of stronger measures for the conservation of migratory species.

The CoP opened on Monday with the launch of the first ever UN report on the State of the World’s Migratory Species. According to the report, of the billions of animals that make migratory journeys across land, rivers and oceans, from the giant humpback whales and elephants to reptiles, fish, birds and even insects, nearly half of them (44 per cent) are in decline.

“The statistics are particularly dire for listed fish species, nearly all of which are threatened with extinction. For these animals, migration is key to feeding patterns and procreation. This movement is part of the circulatory system of our planet, keeping the world connected and providing the ecosystem services on which humankind depends," said Colmán Ó Críodáin, Head of Policy, WWF Wildlife Practice.

The Convention has been particularly successful in getting its priorities into the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), specifically on recovering populations of threatened species and on connectivity. The theme of the CoP was “Nature knows no borders,” reflecting the emphasis on ecological connectivity. A global partnership on ecological connectivity known as the Global Partnership on Ecological Connectivity (GPEC), of which WWF is a member, was launched.

"The conservation needs and threats to migratory species need to be addressed with greater effectiveness, at a broader scale, and with renewed determination. Connectivity conservation is a concept that recognizes that species survive and adapt better when their habitats are managed and protected as large, interconnected networks," said Chris Johnson, Global Lead, WWF Protecting Whales & Dolphins Initiative.

The COP also saw the adoption of a resolution on Important Shark and Ray Areas, responding to the alarming status of sharks and rays globally. A decision was taken that Parties are requested to support the identification of such areas and include them for spatial planning and conservation including through their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) that should be developed under the framework of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). 

Parties also agreed to improve information, management and conservation efforts for Blue shark, the most commonly caught species of shark globally, and on an Action plan for the Conservation of the Critically Endangered Mediterranean Angelshark. “The decisions at this COP are crucial to accelerate shark and ray conservation globally, and in the Mediterranean in particular where more than half of the sharks and rays species are threatened,” says Simone Niedermueller from the WWF Mediterranean Marine Initiative. “This also further supports the unprecedented momentum for parties to urgently address the extremely worrying trend of declining shark and ray populations.”

The CoP added a number of birds, mammals and fish to its Appendices. Notably, it agreed to strict protection for the sand tiger shark, and for the Mediterranean populations of the blackchin guitarfish, the bull ray and the Lusitanian cownose ray, and agreed to step up international cooperation on the conservation of two giant South American catfish species.

With the support of jaguar range States, CoP14 adopted a new Initiative on jaguar conservation, which will not only contribute to conservation work in-country, but will also facilitate cooperation with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Jaguar 2030 Roadmap, of which WWF is a partner organization. Eurasian ynx is also included in the range of the Convention. 

Other important measures adopted by the CoP include: 
  • The CoP endorsed a suite of guidelines on infrastructure and migratory species. They were the result of a very open and transparent process involving civil society representatives and were adopted with no significant changes.
  • The CoP agreed to a new initiative on a Central Asian Flyway, so that now all of the Asian flyways for water birds are covered by CMS activities. This is important for ensuring the integrity and connectivity of wetland habitats in Asia. WWF is investing heavily in Asian flyways as a way of delivering wider wetland conservation in Asia.
  • The CoP also adopted a new mandate on addressing the impacts of deep-seabed mineral exploitation on migratory species, their prey, and their ecosystems.
Eurasian lynx

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