By Gianna Minton (24 Nov 2019)
Background and summary
The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Scientific Council met from 12-14 November 2019 in Bonn, Germany. Its task was to evaluate ongoing activities and draft resolutions, decisions and proposals and make recommendations to member governments that will meet in the triennial Conference of Parties (COP) in Gandhinagar, India from 15-22 February 2020.
A range of issues relevant to cetacean conservation are addressed by the Council. IUCN CSG Deputy Chair Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara is the CMS Councillor for Aquatic Mammals (including cetaceans). The following issues that were discussed in the aquatic working group of the Council and will be taken forward to the COP next February. CSG members may want to track some of these issues and communicate with the relevant CMS focal points if they are keen to support proposed measures:
Threats/issues affecting cetaceans
- Bycatch: The working group reviewed a text on bycatch, providing an update on activities taken in response to a 2016 Resolution 12.22, and proposing some new decisions, focusing on providing member states with resources to mitigate bycatch, including sharks, marine mammals, turtles and seabirds. This text was endorsed by the working group with an addendum referring to work of the IWC and ACCOBAMS.
- Marine noise: An update with proposed draft decisions was presented for marine noise. This text was approved with an addendum.
- Marine Wildlife watching: A progress report with new draft decisions included a focus on collaboration with the IWC on regulations for in-water interactions with cetaceans by tourists (e.g. ‘swim with dolphins/whales’) and the IWC/CMS online whale watching handbook. The text was approved with an addendum.
- Aquatic Wildmeat: The original text on aquatic wildmeat was approved with an addendum.
- Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs): This text includes a report by the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force on activities undertaken since CMS COP12 in 2017 and draft decisions.
- Live Capture of Cetaceans from the Wild for Commercial Purposes: This document reports on progress to implement Decisions 12.47 to 12.49 related to live capture of cetaceans for commercial purposes and recommends revisions to the decisions
Proposals for Concerted Actions (regional government-backed collaboration for a species or population)
- Proposal for a Concerted Action for the Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris): This was proposed by the government of India, and endorsed with an addendum.
- Proposal for a Concerted Action for the South Asian River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica): This was also proposed by India. Discussion in the aquatic working group clarified that technically the Concerted Action could focus only on the Ganges river dolphin sub-species, which is listed in the CMS appendices (primarily because the other subspecies in the Indus River system does not migrate or move across national boundaries). However, it was agreed that the concerted action should mention that any actions taken to improve the status of Ganges river dolphins, and regional collaboration that included Pakistan, could benefit Indus river dolphins as well. The proposal was endorsed with an addendum
- Proposal for a Concerted Action for the Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). This proposal focused on harbour porpoises in the Baltic Sea and along the Iberian Peninsula, and was put forward by a coalition of NGOs. There was some discussion of whether this would be duplicative of efforts under way within the ASCOBANS framework, but the proposal was endorsed with an addendum.
Progress on existing Concerted Actions:
A number of progress reports were endorsed with an addendum that included clarification of procedures for extension or continuation into the next triennium (between COP 13 in 2020 and the next COP in 2023):
- Report on the Implementation of the Concerted Action for the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin (Sousa teuszii). Endorsed with addendum.
- Report on the Implementation of the Concerted Action for the Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) of the Arabian Sea: The Concerted Action was recommended to be continued with addendum.
- Report on the Implementation of the Concerted Action for the Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus) of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Endorsed with addendum.