Press Release - Tonga and Tuvalu are the newest signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to protect cetaceans in the Pacific islands region.The signing took place during the 21st Annual Meeting of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme held in Madang, Papua New Guinea from 6 to 10 September. The Memorandum of Understanding for the conservation of cetaceans and their habitats in the Pacific islands region operates in the spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation toward the protection of whales and dolphins and their habitats.
The non-legally binding arrangement was opened for signing in 2006 and now has a total of 13 SPREP member countries signed. The MoU was concluded under the auspices of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Under this MoU, whales and dolphins are recognised as an integral part of the marine environment connect ecosystems and cultures and should be conserved for the benefit of present and future generations. It also encourages countries to implement the Whale and Dolphin Action Plan, the goal of which is to conserve whales and dolphins and their habitats for the peoples of the Pacific Islands region.
"We warmly welcome Tonga and Tuvalu and are pleased that they have signed this important MoU," said David Sheppard the Director of SPREP.
"While it is based on mutual understanding that we will cooperate to protect the whales and dolphins in our region, it does come under the CMS which is a United Nations Convention, thus providing wider recognition".
The regional Whale and Dolphin Action plan has nine themes for achievement: National, Regional and International Collaboration and Cooperation; Threat Reduction; Ecosystem/Habitat Protection; Capacity Building; Education and Awareness; Cultural Significance and Value; Legislation and Policy; Research and Monitoring; Whale and Dolphin-based Tourism.
The MoU can develop into a legally-binding agreement which would require wider consultation and negotiation.
News Brief - Pacific Countries sign to Protect Marine Species
In September at the 21st Annual Meeting of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme six members signed different MoU's under the Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
. Papua New Guinea signed the Indian Ocean-South-East Asian Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding
. Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the conservation of dugongs and their habitats through-out their range.
. Nauru and Tuvalu signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the conservation of migratory sharks.
. Tonga and Tuvalu signed the Memorandum of understanding for the conservation of cetaceans and their habitats in the pacific islands region