Conservation of Threatened and Endangered Species
The Wider Caribbean Region is home to a diverse range of species including marine mammals, sea turtles and coral species, many of which are considered threatened or endangered.Threats currently facing coastal and marine species include unsustainable fishing practices and gear use, coastal developments and pollution.
Aware of the crucial importance of species, Articles 10, 11 and 21 of the SPAW Protocol call for the implementation of programmes for protected species.
The main objectives of this programme element are to:
- Build consensus in the region on priorities for the conservation and management of threatened and endangered species, including migratory species, as well as those species not yet threatened but requiring action to prevent them from being threatened and endangered;
- Implement priority activities of existing species recovery and management plans developed under the framework of SPAW;
- Develop, as appropriate, adequate management plans and programmes for priority species of regional concern, including those of economic importance; and
- Address the growing threat of invasive alien species (IAS) that could negatively impact on SPAW species and WCR habitats, especially marine or coastal IAS.
In keeping with the SPAW Protocol and Contracting Parties’ decisions, specific attention is currently being paid to the following species, or groups of species:
In 2008 the Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Mammalsin the Wider Caribbean Region (MMAP) was adopted by the CEP Member Governments and aims to manage human interactions and use and protect marine mammal species including whales, manatees and dolphins. The central goal is to generate consensus among governments on which to base their policies for marine mammal conservation. Activities include capacity building and education, policy formulation, regulatory and protective measures, scientific research, improving laws and their application and public awareness. Recommendations are provided on the following issues:
- Fisheries Interactions;
- Habitat Degradation from Coastal and Watershed Development;
- Pollution and Marine Mammal Health;
- Protected Areas and Other Management Regimes for Population Recovery;
- Marine Mammal Watching in the Wild and Associated Activities;
- Marine Mammal Strandings;
- Marine Mammals in Captivity;
- Acoustic Disturbance/Underwater Noise;
- Vessel Strikes; and
- Climate Change.
One important SPAW project related to the protection of marine mammals in the region is Protecting Habitats and Migration Corridors for Marine Mammals in the South and Northeast Pacific and the Wider Caribbean through Marine Protected Area Networks (LifeWeb Project).The goal of the project, which is funded by the Government of Spain, will contribute to efforts to establish a comprehensive, effectively managed and ecologically representative regional system of MPAs by 2012 for the conservation of marine mammals in Latin America and the Caribbean and through the application of an Ecosystem Based Management approach and spatial planning.
In conjunction with Mote Marine Laboratory and the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, the Regional Management Plan for the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) (Donwload: English, Spanish) has recently been revised. The West Indian manatee has been identified by governments and experts from the region as a priority endangered species requiring protection.The management plan assesses the manatee’s current status and distribution, threats and impediments to conservation, socio-economic significance and the legislation and conservation measures in each of the manatee’s range states. The SPAW subprogramme aims to assist countries with the implementation of the priorities identified in the revised Action Plan.
In collaboration with the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), conservation of sea turtles is primarily accomplished through the development of, and by providing support for, the implementation of Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plans (STRAPs). Currently, 13 STRAPs have been produced for:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- British Virgin Islands
- Netherlands Antilles
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Additional activities include:
- Supporting the elaboration of STRAPs in countries that do not have plans;
- Supporting the Index Monitoring Sites for Critically Endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtles, best practices and a spatial database;
- Exploring the feasibility of Index Monitoring Sites for Green Turtles; and
- Exploring the feasibility of using tagging data to compile regional maps of sea turtle movements and the use of critical habitats in the Caribbean.
In collaboration with the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB), BirdLife International and SPAW RAC, activities include:
- Continuing to support the capacity-building efforts on monitoring, conservation and management of endangered waterbird species through training activities and education;
- Supporting cooperation to promote Important Bird Areas and examine linkages between the conservation status of bird species and their inclusion in SPAW Annexes; and
- Exploring collaborations on the development and implementation of action plans for threatened bird species.
The SPAW sub-programme is also involved in addressing the issue of IAS since they represent a growing threat to marine and coastal species and their ecosystems:
- Collaborating with CABI on the further development of the GEF Project Proposal: “Mitigating the Threats of Invasive Alien Species in the Insular Caribbean”. This GEF project aims to establish an extensive framework for addressing alien invasive species that threaten aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and their biodiversity within the insular Caribbean.
- Collaboration with CABI, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), the Governments of Mexico, France and the USA and other interested partners to develop a regional strategy to control the lionfish (Pterois volitans, P. miles).
- Continue to coordinate with CEP sub-programme Assessment and Management of Environmental Pollution(AMEP) on the UNEP/International Marine Organization(IMO) Ballast Water Project in the Wider Caribbean, focusing on the transfer of invasive marine species in ships’ ballast water.