A report on the 5th Meeting of the Parties to AEWA
The 5th session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP 5) to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) was held in La Rochelle, France, from the 14–18 May 2012, preceded by the African pre-MOP workshop from the 12–13 May. The theme of the Meeting was “Migratory waterbirds and people – sharing wetlands”. AEWA covers 255 migratory waterbird species that are dependent on wetlands, including many important game species.
The implementation of the Agreement during the last inter-sessional period was evaluated in various reports. Overall progress was deemed as very insufficient. Most progress was achieved in the sustainable use of waterbirds. At the national level there was good progress in the phase out of lead shot, illegal taking of waterbirds, harvest data collection, and site networks. Progress was limited or not achieved in legal protection, species status changes and population trends. Only 5% of population size estimates were based on a full census or statistically adequate sampling, and trends were still unknown for 37% of populations.
The decisions made by the Meeting are expressed in resolutions. The African Initiative aims to coordinate and improve the implementation of the Agreement in Africa. The Meeting adopted the Plan of Action for the Implementation of AEWA in Africa 2012–2017. The Parties are called upon to ensure that all AEWA populations are covered by international monitoring schemes, in order to reach the target of a 50% increase in the number of populations whose status is assessed by regular monitoring by 2017. The list of international tasks for 2012–2015 includes inter alia increasing the knowledge on waterbird harvests, pilot demographic monitoring of waterbird populations to provide an early warning of long-term changes, and revising the conservation guidelines on the sustainable harvest of migratory waterbirds.
The Parties are urged to support the development of international Single Species Action Plans (SSAPs), particularly for red-listed species and populations. Five SSAPs and the International Species Management Plan for the Svalbard-breeding Pink-footed Goose were adopted. The latter is the first adaptive management plan in AEWA, and compiled due to increasing agricultural conflict caused by increasing numbers of Pink-footed Geese in North-West Europe.
The definition of “significant long-term decline” was amended. A population that has declined by at least 25% in numbers or range over a period of 25 years or 7.5 generations, or for which similar decline can be predicted based on at least 10 years of the most recent data, is considered to be in significant long-term decline. The Technical Committee is requested to define the terms “disturbance” and “significant” disturbance that may negatively affect the conservation of waterbirds, and to produce simple but comprehensive guidance on the management of disturbance.
Other resolutions dealt with, among other things, the communication strategy including the World Migratory Bird Day (with the CIC being one of AEWA’s partners in organizing the Day), climate change adaptation measures, cooperation with the Ramsar Convention and other Multilateral Environment Agreements, and the Aichi 2020 Biodiversity Targets.
Twelve side events presented interesting insights into the monitoring, research, management, conservation and hunting of migratory waterbirds.