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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