Hawksbill Turtle Sub-group Teleconference Meeting
24 August 2001
Dr Jim Armstrong (Facilitator - Secretariat), Ms Marceil Yeater (Secretariat), Dr Julia Horrocks (Barbados), Ms Jennifer Gray and Mr Jonathan Nisbett (Bermuda), Dra Dalia Salabarría and Lic. Félix Moncada (Cuba), Biol. José Maria Reyes Gomes, Dr Mauricio Garduño and Sr Hesiquio Benitez Diaz (Mexico), Dr Carlos Diez (Puerto Rico), Dr Javier Alvarez, Mr Earl Possardt and Ms Barbara Schroeder (United States of America), Dr Sue Mainka (IUCN), Mr Adrian Reuter (TRAFFIC North America), Mr Gerardo Fragoso and Mr Richard Wood (UNEP-WCMC), Ms Anne St. John (Rapporteur).
Costa Rica was invited to participate in the meeting, but did not respond.
Dr Armstrong introduced and welcomed the participants, and the provisional agenda was discussed. The following agenda, based on the Working Group Summary Report of the May 2001 dialogue meeting, was agreed:
- Development of standardized ‘status monitoring’ protocols
- Development of standardized ‘trade/use monitoring’ protocols
- Identification of new index sites for long-term ‘status monitoring’
- Role of the clearinghouse mechanism
- Funding needs and priorities
- Other business
In order to facilitate the discussion, the Secretariat had sought and circulated contributions from the Sub-group prior to the teleconference. Dr Armstrong noted that the Secretariat added the agenda item on the clearinghouse mechanism that had been discussed with UNEP-WCMC shortly after the May 2001 dialogue meeting. Dr Armstrong concluded the introduction, noting that the group might wish to elect a Chair for future meetings, but that the Secretariat would act as Facilitator and Chair for this meeting.
It was agreed that the Secretariat would set up a location on its website for material related to the Hawksbill Turtle programme, including the minutes and decisions of the Sub-group.
Development of standardized ‘status monitoring’ protocols:
Dr Armstrong reported that information from the May 2001 dialogue meeting indicated that while there was much work being conducted in the Caribbean on monitoring, there were no agreed protocols or coordination for collecting data. He noted that it would be useful to analyze the information that is being collected in order to identify the gaps and develop standardized protocols. The United States recommended developing draft status monitoring protocols for discussion at the next meeting. Puerto Rico supported this idea but noted that it would not be possible to compile data by the next meeting. Cuba felt that it would be difficult to have standardized protocols drafted by the next meeting of the Sub-group. Cuba recommended taking a step-by-step approach in developing protocols and making the process as simple and flexible as possible.
Mexico recommended that the group work via email to share information on current monitoring protocols. The United States recommended that each country, territory, or commonwealth participating in the Sub-group identify two to three experts for a face-to-face meeting to discuss the issue. This group would be tasked with agreeing upon minimum standards for monitoring and then working to develop draft protocols. The draft protocols would then be provided to the countries in the region for review and comment. Barbados recommended a combination of the two suggestions put forward by Mexico and the United States, noting that it would be useful to establish an "e-group" but also to meet in person at some point to discuss the protocols. IUCN questioned what resources would be available to undertake this effort. Dr Armstrong informed the meeting that funds are currently unavailable to hold meetings of the Sub-group, and suggested working initially as an e-group. However, he expressed hope that funds for future face-to-face meetings could be identified. Mexico agreed with the suggestion of initially collecting information electronically and then meeting at a later date, if funding was secured. Barbados expressed concern that since it is the middle of the nesting season, many of the members of the Sub-group are busy conducting field work and might not be able to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the development of a standardized protocol by the end of September.
It was agreed that following this teleconference, the Secretariat would provide the names and email addresses of all the members of the Sub-group. The Sub-group would then communicate electronically and would work toward preparing a draft standardized monitoring protocol for discussion at the next teleconference. At the next teleconference, the group will decide if it is necessary to meet face-to-face.
Development of standardized ‘trade/use monitoring’ protocols:
The United States reiterated a point made in its written contribution prior to the teleconference that the expertise of the participants of the Sub-group was in the area of monitoring, not in developing standardized trade/use protocols. Barbados remarked that the participants on the Sub-group had volunteered because of their expertise in status monitoring, and added that it might be appropriate to set priority tasks for the Sub-group. Dr Armstrong reported that the Secretariat’s understanding of the ‘trade/use monitoring’ agenda item was simply to develop protocols for trade/use monitoring and then provide them to the Parties. The Secretariat invited the TRAFFIC Network to address this agenda item.
TRAFFIC was disconnected from the teleconference before confirming that it would address the development of standardized ‘trade/use monitoring’ protocols. Before the next meeting of the Sub-group, the Secretariat will discuss with TRAFFIC its willingness to address this agenda item.
Identification of new index sites for long-term ‘status monitoring’:
Dr Armstrong recommended undertaking an assessment of the adequacy of current index sites and then considering new sites. He asked the group whether it would be useful, as a starting point for this discussion, to ask participants from the May 2001 dialogue meeting (as well as members of the Sub-group) to provide information on whether they are monitoring, where and how long in order to compile a list of monitoring sites and the protocols being used. Barbados agreed with this suggestion. Bermuda added that it is essential to address turtle mortality and its causes; this information could be gained through a stranding network, which currently is not in place in the Caribbean region. Dr Armstrong suggested that the list of monitoring sites and the protocols being used could be compiled and placed in an information clearinghouse by UNEP-WCMC. IUCN questioned whether some of this information might be sensitive and asked whether steps should be taken to provide a certain level of confidentiality to this information, i.e., make it accessible only to members of the group.
The Secretariat agreed to seek information on index sites from the Parties of the wider Caribbean and provide these data to the Sub-group.
Role of the clearinghouse mechanism:
UNEP-WCMC outlined three possible stages for the development of a clearinghouse mechanism. The first stage would create a metadatabase, initially without a high level of detail. The second stage would make the contributed documents available electronically and then a third stage would analyze the data at some later point, perhaps in a protected system. Mexico suggested that the clearinghouse should contain information on contact persons and hawksbill experts from the region as well as documents from the May 2001 dialogue meeting and further suggested that GIS technology might be used in the future. Cuba endorsed the idea of developing a clearinghouse mechanism.
UNEP-WCMC agreed to work with the Secretariat in developing a clearinghouse mechanism for information and documents, and suggested initially setting up an electronic library of documents. It was noted that UNEP-WCMC had developed an information clearinghouse for the Convention on Biological Diversity, and it is hoped that some of the infrastructure developed for that exercise would help to offset the cost of setting up a clearinghouse for the turtle information.
Funding needs and priorities:
The Secretariat committed to work with UNEP-WCMC to identify sources of funding for the development of the clearinghouse. Funding sources for a future face-to-face meeting of the Sub-group will also be addressed.
Dr Mainka reminded the group that the IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group would be accepting updated technical information on hawksbill turtle populations until 30 September 2001. This information will be used to update the paper on the status and biology of the species. Dr Armstrong reported that the final report of this Sub-group teleconference would be distributed to all members of the Wide Caribbean Hawksbill Turtle Dialogue, and they would be reminded of the deadline at that time.
The Sub-group’s next meeting, via teleconference, will be held on 24 October 2001, at 1600 Geneva time. In order to accommodate the logistical needs of Mexico and the United States, each of them will be permitted two lines for the next teleconference; all other participants will have a single telephone line. Dr Diez agreed to contact Costa Rica to see whether an expert might be designated to participate in future Sub-group discussions and meetings.
Dr Armstrong concluded the meeting and thanked the members for their participation.
- The Sub-group will communicate electronically between now and the next teleconference to draft standardized status monitoring protocols. The drafts will be discussed at the next teleconference.
- The Secretariat will discuss with TRAFFIC its willingness to address the development of standardized ‘trade/use monitoring’ protocols.
- The Secretariat will seek information on index sites from the Parties of the wider Caribbean, including information on status monitoring protocols and the length of research, and provide these data to the Sub-group.
- UNEP-WCMC will produce a detailed proposal for the development of a clearinghouse mechanism. The Secretariat and UNEP-WCMC will work together to identify sources of funding.
- The Secretariat will distribute the minutes of this meeting and remind participants in the May 2001 dialogue meeting that the deadline for submission of information to IUCN on the biology/status of the species is 30 September 2001.
- By the next meeting, Dr Diez (Puerto Rico) will contact Costa Rica about designation of an expert to participate in the Sub-group.
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