Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ACTION ALERT: Don't Gut Global Protected Area Targets!

There is a real risk that the World Parks Congress will gut the updated target they issue for no-take marine protection.

Retweet this tweet to show your support for protecting 20-30% of our ocean

At the last World Parks Congress in Durban 11 years ago – a marine no-take target was issued of 20-30% no-take of all habitats by 2012. WPC is a global expert forum – that target had the status of providing expert advice to the world’s leaders, governments and convention processes on what they should aspire to achieve. There is a very real risk that that target will be reduced to 5% no-take as the global marine target. This would be a disaster for marine protection globally, and all of the marine park campaigns and programs around the world.

This large target is still on the table, but we need to hold that in place for the next 24 hours leading into the final day of WPC tomorrow when the targets will be locked-in. Today is the last day for influencing this, ahead of tomorrow’s WPC Plenary when the WPC Resolutions will be confirmed.

Can you use Twitter and Facebook as soon as possible today to send a message – a suggested one is below. Reword this as you wish, but please keep the tone sharp but encouraging – no need to mention any numbers. Please use the hashtag #NatureNeedsHalf.

It’s time for a bold aspirational target for marine no-take protection of the world’s oceans @WpcSydney @IUCN #NatureNeedsHalf

You can also retweet this tweet to show your support for protecting 20-30% of our ocean

Thank you!!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dare to Change the World

Guest Post
by Arthur Sokimi

I’m sitting here at the airport in Quito thinking about the incredible week here at the Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species. I’m also thinking about the long and painful journey ahead of me and my fellow Fijian delegate, Saras Sharma of the Ministry of Fisheries. Sharma, by the way, is sleeping on a seat next to me in the departure lounge. I am really envious of people who sleep so easily! She’ll need it. Over the next two days we are flying from Quito to Miami to Los Angeles and finally on to Fiji. I’ll get a lot of reading done – you can only watch Guardians of the Galaxy so many times – but I expect my bottom is going to be very sore again!

As I sit here I am in very high spirits. Yesterday marked a monumental moment for shark and ray conservation. All 21 species of sharks and rays that were proposed for listing on CMS Appendices I and II were adopted by the plenary during the last day of deliberations at the CMS COP 11. Even Chile and Peru, who had initially been opposed to the listing of silky sharks, came around in the eleventh hour and voiced their support.

Congratulations are due to all the countries that were successful and I sincerely thank everyone for supporting Fiji’s proposals!

As a member of the Fiji delegation I am immensely proud of my country and fellow delegation members. We took our first CMS COP by storm with a proposal to list 9 mobula and reef mantas on the two appendices. I am truly honoured to have been a part of this fabulous team led by our gentle giant and personification of humility, Mr. Aisake Batibasaga of the Ministry of Fisheries. His leadership was a pillar of strength for us less-experienced members of the delegation. Saras managed everything for our team from before we left Fiji until now. We were blessed to have her be our calm, yet surprisingly firm, voice. My buddy Ian Campbell of the WWF Shark Programme was our joker and also technical person, and despite his bad jokes, he proved to be indispensable.

Thank you to our hosts, the Ecuadorian government, particularly the Minister of Environment Lorena Tapia, and the wonderful people of Ecuador for being delightful hosts and allowing us to experience and enjoy their beautiful home.

Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to the CMS Secretariat for all the hard work and making this COP a memorable and productive one.

Thank you to all our partners who helped the Fiji delegation with drafting our proposals and getting us to Quito. The Pew Charitable Trusts, WWF, The Manta Trust, and SPREP head this distinguished list.

And huge thanks to all the bubbly personalities from around the world. It was particularly great to see Perry, Luke, Isabel, and KerriLynn again.

I have been working on shark conservation for a few years. Yet this was the first time for me to work on shark conservation on the global stage. I am filled with happiness and am grateful to have had had the opportunity to be but a small part of this.

I hope this feeling lasts the entire 48 hours or so it is going to take to get me back to my own bed in Suva, Fiji. I leave inspired, knowing that our work is only just beginning. The theme of CMS COP 11 was “Time for Action,” and I plan to take this home as my personal mantra in the coming months.

We have reached the threshold where human inaction may lead to a bleak future, not only for migratory species and nature, but for us humans also. We must take the steps necessary to set things on the right track.

Minister Tapia told us in her closing remarks, “It is time for us to dare to change the world.”

Challenge accepted, and I humbly ask you to join me.

Arthur Sokimi is the director of outreach for Shark Defenders. He lives in Suva, Fiji. You can follow Arthur on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From Bula to Hola: Fiji at CMS

Guest Post
by Arthur Sokimi

After approximately 30 odd hours of flying and playing paper rugby in airports, the Fiji delegation arrived safely in Quito, Ecuador for the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Jetlagged and with very sore bottoms, we settled into our accommodations and after a little rest put our heads together again to work on our proposal to list nine mobula species, plus reef mantas.

The entire team has been quite anxious since this is Fiji’s first ever appearance at CMS and we are making it a spectacle with a proposal. Actually Fiji is the first Pacific Island country to make a proposal at CMS! Lead by our towering Head of Delegation, Mr. Aisake Batibasaga, we are optimistic and we live the theme of this years’ COP; “Time for Action”!

The Fijian delegation inside the meeting hall.
Yesterday’s High Level Ministerial meeting emphasized our human responsibility to nature. Inspired by Ecuador and Bolivia, who have constitutionalized the Rights of Nature, the meeting touched on issues that affect migratory species and the important need to protect them as international indicator species of environmental health. One of the main messages I took from the meeting and something that I and a few others believe was very aptly summarized by Dr. Cormac Cullinan:

UNLESS we learn to live in harmony with nature there is NO future for us!!

This is the very important message that must be shared with everyone. This is what everyone on earth should know, should think, and should talk about. It cannot be stressed, repeated or shouted enough!

Today’s opening ceremony was a pleasant occasion with the hosts Ecuador going out of their way to make everyone feel welcome with very inspirational talks from three conservation advocates. One of the opening addresses was given by Achmat Hassiem, Paralympian 100m Bronze medal winner in the London Paralympics and World Champion 200m butterfly champion, who lost a leg to a shark back in his homeland of South Africa.

South Africa and Fiji together for sharks!
On one prosthetic leg, the man from South African stood tall and spoke passionately on the need for strong shark protections. I admire this man greatly! I try to put myself in his shoes and I realize how strong a character a person must have to be the way he is. Positivity unleashed! Yesterday it was said that nature cannot speak for itself but it chooses to react. Today I watched and listened to a hero speaking for sharks and nature! Now is time we listened to the champions that voice the cry of nature and heed their call before nature is forced to respond in a way that will not be favourable to the planet and those that live on it.

Arthur Sokimi is the director of outreach for Shark Defenders. He lives in Suva, Fiji. You can follow Arthur on Twitter.
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