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Philippines hosts world’s biggest wildlife conference

MANILA, Philippines — The world’s largest wildlife conference aimed at protecting migratory species will open tomorrow at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

The Philippines will host the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) from Oct. 23 to 28.

The CMS, or the Bonn Convention, is an international environmental treaty that provides an expert legal framework in coordinating worldwide conservation measures for a wide range of endangered migratory animals.

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

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said more than 900 delegates from 124 member-countries are expected to participate in the conference. The Philippine delegation is headed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Cimatu said the Philippine delegation will push for the inclusion of five migratory wildlife species to the CMS appendices.

These are whale shark (Rhincodon typus), Christmas frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi), White-spotted wedgefish (Rhynchbatus  australiae), Black Noddy (Anousminutus) and the Yellow Bunting (Emberiza sulphurata).

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The Philippine delegation will campaign for the inclusion of the whale shark in CMS species’ list under Appendix I, while retaining its listing in Appendix II.

CMS Appendix I covers migratory species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range, and require national conservation actions to ensure their survival.

Migratory species under Appendix II have unfavorable conservation status and require international agreements and commitments for their conservation and management. The whale shark has been included in CMS Appendix II listing since 1999. 

“The Philippines is one of the nations visited by the whale shark. In fact, the so-called ‘gentle giant’ has boosted tourism in some provinces, including Sorsogon and Cebu, where tourists have the opportunity to see and enjoy close encounter with the world’s largest fish,” he said.

“Our position is pursuant to efforts of like-minded nations to have a global ban on whale shark hunting,” he added.

The Philippines will also propose to include the Christmas frigatebird in Appendix I and  the white-spotted wedgefish, black noddy and yellow bunting in Appendix II. All these species have been sighted in various parts of the country.

The CMS bans the commercial capture and use of species listed under Appendix I and requires parties to develop management strategies to protect species listed under Appendix II from overexploitation.

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