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NOAA Fisheries Attends Cartagena Convention to Discuss Protected Species Issues and Pollution

December 1, 2016 

What do Nassau grouper, several shark and ray species, and smalltooth sawfish have in common? NOAA Fisheries representatives met with delegates from across the Caribbean at the Science and Technical Advisory Committee meeting for the Cartagena Convention in early November in Miami, Florida, to discuss these marine species and to further their conservation and recovery.

The Cartagena Convention includes three specific agreements focused on specially protected areas and wildlife (SPAW), land-based sources of pollution (LBS), and oil spills.

 Attendees gathered to discuss scientific and technical SPAW and LBS issues proposed for negotiation at the Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in 2017.

Working to Conserve Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife

During the specially protected areas and wildlife portion of the meeting, NOAA Fisheries representatives succeeded in achieving U.S. objectives on marine species proposals. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) recommended forwarding the U.S. proposal for adding Nassau grouper to Annex III of the Convention for consideration at the COP meeting. The addition of Nassau grouper under Annex III would benefit the conservation and recovery of this species by directing cooperation of all Parties to formulate, adopt, and implement plans for their management and use. 

The United States also worked with the Netherlands on their proposals to list several shark and ray species under Annex III, including three manta ray species, three hammerhead shark species, oceanic whitetip sharks, and whale sharks. The STAC also recommended that a proposal to add the smalltooth sawfish (listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act) to Annex II be forwarded to the COP for consideration. Animal species listed under Annex II are designated for total protection and recovery, with Parties agreeing to prohibit the capture, possession, killing, and trade of these species. See lists of species protected under the Annexes of the SPAW Protocol.

NOAA Fisheries’ efforts under the Cartagena Convention is just one way we work with other countries on the stewardship of our ocean resources.

History of the Convention

The Cartagena Convention was created under the United Nations Caribbean Environment Programme, and was the first legally binding environmental treaty in the wider Caribbean. The Convention has been ratified by 25 out of 28 possible Caribbean States, including the United States. The proposals agreed upon by the delegates at the Miami meeting may become legally binding among the Parties should Parties vote to pass these proposals at the COP meeting in early 2017.