UNEP: Global Protection Proposed for Sharks, Rays, Sawfish, Polar Bear and Lions 

Some of the world’s most endangered species, many of them migratory, are facing unprecedented threats from climate change, habitat destruction to overexploitation and pollution which has led to a number of new listing proposals for consideration at CMS COP 11 – a key international wildlife conference scheduled to take place 4-9 November 2014 in Quito, Ecuador. 

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) administered Convention on the
Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or the “Bonn
Convention”) is the only global convention protecting species that move across international
boundaries. Every three years it holds an international meeting of all its members – the
Conference of the Parties (COP) – to agree on internationally coordinated conservation
measures for the world’s migratory species and to decide which species should be protected
under its two Appendices. The deadline for listing proposals for CMS COP11 was 6 June
and a total of 32 species have been proposed for listing into Appendix I which requires strict
protection and Appendix II which requires coordinated management by the countries in which the species migrate.

Among the listing proposals received from countries for CMS COP11 are a large number of
shark and ray species including two types of Hammerhead shark, the Silky shark, three
species of thresher sharks, the Reef Manta Ray along with nine Mobula Ray species. In
addition, five species of sawfishes, some of which are critically endangered, have been
proposed for listing.

“One of the clear messages indicated by the listing proposals is that CMS Parties deem the
plight of sharks to be so serious that they proposed over twenty species of sharks and rays
for listing. It might also be seen as a vote of confidence in CMS as a forum in which to
advance the global conservation of sharks, but also for an increasing number of other
threatened migratory species of wild animals”, said Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary
of CMS.

Other species put forward by individual CMS Parties for consideration by CMS COP11
include the Polar Bear which is under major threat from climate change and the African Lion
which has seen a 30 per cent decrease in population over the last two decades as a result of
habitat loss and other man-made threats as well as the European Eel which is threatened by
overfishing and dams.

Other issues that will be discussed at CMS COP11 in Quito later this year include the illegal
hunting of elephants, which are being driven to the brink of extinction as on average a
hundred animals are being poached every day. This is also a topic that will be high on the
agenda of the first ever United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) later this month and

which has also been the subject of a number of major Heads of State summits recently.
Other issues affecting migratory species that will be discussed at CMS COP11 in November
include climate change, marine debris, the effects of renewable energy installations on
migratory species and illegal bird trapping.

The Chair of the CMS Standing Committee, Professor Alfred Oteng-Yeboah of Ghana
commented “The CMS COP comes in the middle of a busy period in the international
environmental calendar. The Convention on Biological Diversity is holding its COP the
month before in Korea and the IUCN World Parks Congress takes place in Sydney shortly
afterwards. It will be the first time in the 35-year existence of CMS that the COP has taken
place in the Americas. We are expecting the Conference to attract leading decision-makers
from a wide range of governments, international organizations and civil society”.

Species covered by CMS are extremely diverse, ranging from the Blue Whale and the
African Elephant through gazelles, sea turtles, sharks, a variety of birds from albatrosses,
birds of prey, waterbirds and songbirds, to the Monarch Butterfly.

By signing the Convention, the 120 Parties to CMS recognize that these wild animals in their
innumerable forms are an irreplaceable part of the Earth’s natural system which must be
conserved for the good of mankind.

The details of the agenda of the forthcoming CMS Conference of the Parties (COP) are
beginning to emerge. The countdown to the Conference, being held under the slogan “Time
for Action”, has begun with the passing of the deadline for the species listing proposals on 6
The full list of species proposed for inclusion into the CMS Appendices to be decided by
governments at CMS COP11 includes 3 terrestrial mammals, 2 marine mammals, 5 birds
and 22 fish. All proposals submitted by individual CMS Parties can be found on the CMS
website at: www.cms.int.