Range states unite to save the snow leopard
At the Bishkek International Snow Leopard and Ecosystems Forum, a strong message from UN Secretary General António Guterres and a 202,349-signature petition – jointly organized by WWF, the Snow Leopard Trust and Naturschutzbund Deutschland and endorsed by actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Megan Fox – helped inspire the snow leopard range states to unite.
The 12 states, which include China, India and Russia, agreed to jointly increase efforts to conserve the remaining 4,000 snow leopards, reduce poaching, which accounts for up to 450 animals a year, and preserve snow-leopard habitat that includes the headwaters of 20 major Asian rivers. Nepal led the way, with the launch of a climate-smart landscape management plan, a model for other countries.
Although the snow leopard’s endangered status has recently been reassessed to vulnerable, it remains under growing pressure from climate change, unsustainable development and habitat loss. Hundreds of millions of people depend on these habitats for freshwater and livelihoods.
Belize moratorium – landmark in marine conservation
WWF’s campaign to strengthen the World Heritage Convention and reinforce OECD protective guidelines has prompted 400,000 people to ask the President of Belize to protect the Belize Barrier Reef for the long term.
In response, the government will establish a permanent moratorium on offshore oil activity in and around the reef, a World Heritage site harbouring almost 1,400 marine species. Reef-related tourism, fisheries and scientific research are estimated to provide about 15 per cent of Belize’s gross domestic product and support the livelihoods of around 190,000 people.
We have worked alongside others to protect the reef for more than 30 years, and in a recent assessment demonstrated that it was threatened by offshore oil drilling and damaging coastal construction.
The halting of oil exploration in Belize’s territorial sea and exclusive economic zone is expected to be endorsed by the country’s next parliamentary session in November 2017.
Cambodian Prime Minister endorses plans for tiger
WWF congratulates the Royal Government of Cambodia for the Prime Minister’s endorsement of plans to reintroduce wild tigers to northeastern Cambodia.
It comes 10 years after the last evidence of a wild tiger in Cambodia was captured by a camera trap in the Eastern Plains Landscape. The commitment is a positive indication of the government’s commitment to protecting tiger habitat in the Eastern Plains Landscape, increasing enforcement against poaching and illegal logging, and engaging all stakeholders – especially local communities.
Cambodia plays an important role in the global goal to double wild tiger numbers by the year 2022 (TX2), committed to by the 13 range states at the 2011 St Petersburg Tiger Summit.
One of the most innovative and ambitious conservation goals ever set, TX2 has managed to halt the sharp decline in wild tiger numbers for the first time in conservation history.
EU Commission boosts fight against illegal fishing
Following an analysis by WWF and three other non-governmental organizations – the Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, and the Pew Charitable Trusts – the European Commission (EC) is increasing action on fishing.
Currently it is estimated that upwards of 30 per cent of the seafood on our plates comes from illegal, unregulated or unreported sources.
Although the European Union (EU) has made important progress, Member State implementation of EU regulations remains a concern.
Now the EC will send official letters to all Member State authorities, highlighting shortcomings in their implementation, and requesting an official action plan for how to address these shortfalls.
This is a major win for WWF, and a major step forward in ensuring that the 28 Member States apply EU laws effectively and uniformly, and stop illegal seafood products from reaching the EU’s profitable markets.
Conservation plan for Eastern Pacific tunas
WWF welcomes the decision taken by 21 governments of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to bring Eastern Pacific catches in line with scientific advice.
Beginning this year and running to 2020, the governments will implement a 72-day fishing closure – an increase of 10 days – for every large-scale purse-seine tuna vessel in the region.
Further, IATTC members will improve the management of fish aggregating devices – floating objects used to attract tuna.
“These are important steps towards the sustainable management of this fishery and moving the region away from relying on short-term conservation that needs to be renegotiated every year,” said Pablo Guerrero, WWF LAC Fisheries Director. “There is still a great deal to be done to address other contributors to overfishing but this kind of progress creates momentum.”
Action on illegal totoaba trade crucial for vaquita
At the first trilateral meeting of the governments of China, Mexico and the United States on the illegal totoaba trade, WWF urged swift action to halt the illegal trafficking of totoaba swim bladders along a route from Mexico, through the United States, to China, and save the vaquita.
The porpoise, the world’s most endangered marine mammal, is on the brink of extinction as individuals are trapped in gillnets used to capture totoaba – also a critically endangered species.
The meeting came less than two months after Mexico implemented a permanent ban on the use of gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California.
The ban is accompanied by the retrieval of abandoned “ghost” nets within vaquita habitat and the development of new fishing gear and techniques for local communities – measures considered imperative by WWF to halt the vaquita’s ultimate decline.