22 May 2013 - The International Day for Biological Diversity seeks to increase understanding and awareness of complex biodiversity issues. This year’s theme is marine diversity.
CMS is taking this opportunity to highlight the fragile status of the world’s oceans, which are home to the most diverse range of species listed on the Appendices of the Convention – birds, mammals, fish and reptiles. Large whales such as the Blue Whale, Fin Whale and Sei Whale are endangered. Legally binding treaties on cetaceans concluded under CMS address threats to large and small whales and dolphins. They are complemented by a Memorandum of Understanding on whales and dolphins in the Pacific Islands region are covered by a CMS (MOU). The West African Aquatic Mammals MOU covers the critically endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal, which recently recolonized its traditional habitats.
For six species of marine turtles, which have outlived the dinosaurs, the future looks rather bleak. In addition to pollution, climate change, direct hunting and bycatch, their coastal habitats are vanishing and their eggs are being unsustainably harvested. Without internationally coordinated conservation actions, these sea turtles will be driven to the brink of extinction.
Sharks, which have been roaming the world’s oceans for 400 million years as top predators, are increasingly endangered. Unsustainable fishing, bycatch, habitat destruction and the practice of “finning” threaten the survival of many shark species, thereby disrupting the fragile balance of marine ecosystems. CMS aims to counteract this trend by encouraging signatories to the CMS Sharks Memorandum of Understanding to implement activities to halt this decline.
Albatrosses, which become ensnared when attempting to catch bait from fishing hooks used in longline fisheries, are drowning in their hundreds and thousands. Under the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, research has been conducted to reduce significantly the numbers killed in this way.
Many species depend on special habitats. Following the conclusion of the CMS Dugong MOU, environmentally friendly fishing gear is being introduced to preserve Dugongs (or sea cows as they are often known) and their seagrass habitats.
The Convention on Migratory Species works with local communities to conserve marine species and their coastal and marine habitats. Conserving ecological networks is essential to sustain vital ecosystem services and allow whales and dolphins, marine turtles, sharks and sea cows to continue their journeys.
CMS celebrates the International Day for Biodiversity by presenting its work to the public in the Botanical Gardens of Bonn University.