The 12th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP12) concluded with the adoption of all proposed resolutions and decisions, including the Manila Declaration on Sustainable Development, and Migratory Species. Happily for GOBI, the proposal of making Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) part of the mandate of the CMS in terms of implementation was formally approved by the Parties with the adoption of a specific resolution and decisions. Equally successful was the adoption of the resolution on improving ways of addressing connectivity in the conservation of migratory species. This ‘connectivity resolution’ highlights, among other things, the need to express conservation objectives in terms of whole migration systems and functionality of the migration process itself, not just the status of populations or habitats. The adoption of both resolutions is a terrific result for GOBI’s work delivered under its IKI-funded research programme (www.gobi.org/projects).
The CMS COP12 was attended by over 500 delegates representing more than 120 countries, and all of them are now informed not only of the existence of IMMAs and what they can be used for, but also of the broader global context and consequences of potential obstacles in the connectivity between places and times that are essential for the continued survival of migratory species. Furthermore, the IMMA resolution and the decisions that come from it will stimulate CMS parties, range states and other relevant bodies to support the IMMA process in various ways, especially in stimulating decision-makers to make use of the IMMA tool when considering the management of human activities in aquatic mammal habitats. More specifically, the IMMA resolution invites the CBD, the IMO and the IUCN to consider IMMAs as useful contributions for the determination of EBSAs, PSSAs and KBAs, respectively, and encourages the ongoing liaison with the International Whaling Commission to mitigate threats such as ship strikes and noise.
The tasks of identifying the IMMAs in new regions and of mapping migratory connectivity pathways across the oceans can now go ahead with confidence, knowing that the outcomes of all such efforts will receive the attention and cooperation of countries on the ground and at the highest level.