Int’l body adopts PH resolutions seeking greater protection for butanding, 4 other migratory species

The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) on Saturday adopted all five resolutions submitted by the Philippines, which sought to provide greater protection for certain migratory species, including the whale shark or butanding.

In behalf of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, DENR) Undersecretary and Chair of the CMS COP12 organizing committee Atty. Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr., hailed as “victory for the environment and future generations” the adoption of the Philippine-drafted resolutions by the COP during its 12th session held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

Besides the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) resolution, the COP also adopted the resolutions on Christmas Island frigatebird (Fregata andewsi), yellow bunting (Emberiza sulphurata), worcesteri sub-species of the black noddy (Anous minutes), and white-spotted wedgefish (Rhyncobatus australiae).

“This is a victory not only for the environment but also for future generations because this is our way of contributing to global efforts to protect these species and ensure that they will still be enjoyed by our grandchildren and their children,” Adobo said.

With the adoption of the resolution, the whale shark will now be included in Appendix I of the CMS, while maintaining its current status under Appendix II.

The species covered by CMS are listed either in one or both of the two appendices, depending on the degree of protection they need.

Appendix I covers migratory species threatened with extinction. As such, CMS member-countries strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them.

Appendix II, on the other hand, covers migratory species that need or could significantly benefit from international cooperation. Thus, the Convention encourages the range states to conclude global or regional agreements.

The listing of whale shark under Appendix I requires CMS party-states, especially those within the whale shark’s range, to protect the world’s largest living fish by strictly prohibiting its capture, conserving and restoring its habitats, and removing obstacles to its migration.

The resolution also included retaining the whale shark’s listing under Appendix II, which requires international agreements to be drawn up for its conservation and management. Aside from the Philippines, Israel and Sri Lanka also sponsored the resolution on whale shark.

Also approved for inclusion in Appendix I was the Christmas Island frigatebird, a critically endangered bird that breeds exclusively on Christmas Island in Australia but includes the Philippines in its migration range.

Meanwhile, the yellow bunting, worcesteri sub-species of black noddy and the white-spotted wedgefish will now be listed under Appendix II.

All five migratory species have been sighted in various parts of the Philippines.

Adopted by 124 nations under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme, the CMS is the only global environmental treaty established exclusively for the conservation and management of terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.

The COP is its main decision-making body that meets every three years to adopt policies and laws, and propose new species under the framework.

The Philippines is the first country in Asia to host the COP meeting, which brought together more than 1,000 delegates and observers from over 94 countries — the most attended CMS event so far. ###