Executive Secretary Robert Hepworth participated in the
16th South Pacific Regional Environment Programme SPREP
Meeting in Apia, Samoa 11-18 September 2005 to present the
Convention’s work and obtain feedback from SPREP members
on the Pacific Islands Cetaceans Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU). Delegates strongly endorsed the negotiating process
as well as the content of the agreement. Representatives
of Samoa, Tuvalu, Australia, New Zealand and France were
supportive of the MoU in plenary. The Federated States of
Micronesia, Fiji, Niue and Tokelau as well as Tonga and
Cook Islands are known to be considering signing the MoU.
Mr. Asterio Takesy, Director of the SPREP Secretariat,
and Robert Hepworth both agreed to draw up a Memorandum
of Cooperation (SPREP MoC) to mark a new CMS SPREP partnership.
The MoU will include a practical workplan initially focusing
on the Cetaceans MoU and Action Plan, plus turtles and dugongs.
The SPREP Secretariat favours a separate CMS agreement on
marine turtles for the Pacific, probably within the same
boundaries as the Cetaceans MoU. CMS will take this forward
as part of the new MoC. Technical support from IOSEA such
as databases and online reporting would facilitate its implementation.
Since dugong populations occur in only four SPREP-States,
the SPREP-Secretariat is more inclined to include them into
the MoU on Cetaceans covering the wider Indian Ocean and
South East Asia rather than setting up a separate agreement
for dugong in the Pacific.
This strategic partnership between SPREP and CMS will join
up resources in order to conserve more effectively migratory
species. Pacific Islands provide key corridors for migratory
marine and avian species. Many pathways and breeding areas
are to be found in the South Pacific. CMS is currently focusing
on new Pacific Islands to increase its membership: Samoa
will accede to the Convention by the end of this year, and
several other states in the region are understood to consider
CMS Executive Secretary Robert Hepworth thanked SPREP members
and secretariat for their invaluable support in negotiating
the MoU. He appealed to all potential signatories to the
CMS/SPREP Cetaceans MoU to complete their consideration
of the draft. He invited the SPREP Secretariat to attend
the Conference of the Parties (CMS COP8) to be held in Nairobi
16-25 November 2005. Signing both the Memorandum of Understanding
on Cetaceans and the SPREP MoC at the Conference of the
Parties would be a tangible signal of the importance of
the Pacific region for migratory species, he added.
CMS conference participants in November 2005 will have the
opportunity to learn more about CMS marine mammal projects
in the South Pacific and other regions. The Whale and Dolphin
Conservation Society and the SPREP Secretariat will join
a side event organized by UNEP and CMS featuring the proposed
new Pacific Islands MoU and other projects for marine mammals.