AWI has long been involved with the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention), a regional agreement signed in Cartagena, Colombia, in 1983. The treaty comprises three protocols (technical agreements) concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), Combatting Oil Spills, and Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities. AWI is most closely involved with the SPAW Protocol, and is a recognized expert and observer at its meetings.
In late January/early February, AWI attended the 10th meeting of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) of the SPAW Protocol (held virtually) to discuss and negotiate various proposals and documents presented by parties and the secretariat in preparation for the 12th SPAW Conference of the Parties (CoP) later this year in Aruba. A packed three-day agenda centered on proposals to designate protected areas and list various species on the protocol’s three annexes (which establish certain protections for the species), the Marine Mammal Action Plan (MMAP) update, efforts to combat invasive species, the proliferation of Sargassum seaweed wreaking havoc on fisheries and tourism in the region, establishment of a Marine Mammal Regional Activity Network (RAN), and the work plan and budget for the next two years.
AWI was particularly engaged on the listing proposals (which included several shark species), MMAP update (for which we are on the Expert Working Group), and establishment of the Marine Mammal RAN. We are also working with other groups to establish a consortium to support effective implementation of the SPAW Protocol by the parties to the agreement. An intervention by AWI’s Susan Millward to introduce a concept paper on the consortium proposal received support from some country delegates and the secretariat. A report on the SPAW CoP and other Cartagena Convention meetings will appear in an upcoming AWI Quarterly.