If there is one word to summarise the last few days at CMS CoP11 in Quito, Ecuador, it is TEAMWORK. It is amazing to see how pretty much all the NGOs and IGOs present work together to collaborate, support and inform each other on how to best push for listing and protection of the proposed species – PEW Environment, The Shark Trust, WWF Sharks, WildAid, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Shark Advocates, Project AWARE and the IUCN just to name a few! In fact the teamwork has been so apparent and abundant that it was even highlighted positively by the CMS Secretariat Communications team – what a fantastic energy exists between us!
This collaboration and support, prior and during these important Conventions, is possibly part of the reason why this year’s CMS is looking so promising – with only a few minor comments from the attending Parties, and numerous strong interventions to support the proposals, the majority of shark and ray species proposed have been accepted by consensus, and will be forwarded to plenary on Sunday morning. That’s a massive hurdle made!
Among plenary sessions, working groups and other meetings, there have also been several great side events on sharks and rays. The PEW Environment group organised a fantastic evening where the governments of Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji and the EU shared with us why sharks and rays are so important to their nations, and why they are worth conserving. Last night, a special event by the Fiji delegation (who put forward the CMS proposals for Manta alfredi and all Mobula species), gave us insights into the cultural importance and value of shark and rays to the Pacific nations.
With such a buzzing, energetic atmosphere, we have our fingers tightly crossed that Sunday will see all proposed sharks and rays protected on CMS. Then the celebrations can begin!