Hawksbill Turtle Sub-group Teleconference Meeting
24 October 2001
Dr Jim Armstrong (Facilitator - Secretariat), Ms Marceil Yeater (Secretariat), Dr Julia Horrocks (Barbados), Ms Jennifer Gray and Mr Jonathan Nisbett (Bermuda), Mr José Joaquín Calvo Domingo (Costa Rica), Dra Dalia Salabarría, Lic. Félix Moncada, and Sra Silvia Alvarez (Cuba), Sr Hesiquio Benitez Diaz (Mexico), Dr Javier Alvarez and Mr Earl Possardt (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). Dr Carlos E. Diez (Puerto Rico) and Sr José Maria Reyes Gomez and Dr Mauricio Garduño Andrade (Mexico) were unable to participate. Technical difficulties also caused some delay in connecting certain participants and resulted in several disconnections.
Dr Armstrong introduced and welcomed the participants. Although several of the participants had not been reached via telephone for the meeting, the group decided to continue with the meeting since a majority of countries was present and the group had Cuba’s written comments. The following agenda, based on the action items from the 24 August 2001 Sub-group teleconference, was agreed:
- Minutes of the first Sub-group meeting
- Development of standardized status monitoring protocols
- Development of standardized trade/use monitoring protocols
- Identification of new index sites for long-term status monitoring
- Progress on the development of a clearinghouse mechanism
- Submission of information to IUCN on the biology/status of the species
- Funding needs and priorities
- Other business
- Date and time of next teleconference
None of the participants expressed an interest in chairing the Sub-group. Several mentioned that a chair was not really necessary for such a small group and coordination by the Secretariat should continue. Therefore, it was decided that the Secretariat would remain as Facilitator for the Sub-group.
Minutes from the first Sub-group meeting:
UNEP-WCMC had a minor correction to the minutes from the August 2001 Sub-group teleconference. Under the agenda item on the role of the clearinghouse mechanism, the sentence "It was noted that UNEP-WCMC had developed an information clearinghouse for the Convention on Biological Diversity" should be deleted and replaced by the sentence, "It was noted that UNEP-WCMC has developed a marine turtle Interactive Mapping Service (IMS) and is also working with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in the development of a marine turtle information system." The Rapporteur made this correction and forwarded the finalized minutes to the Secretariat.
Development of standardized status monitoring protocols:
Participants acknowledged there had been no electronic discussion on this point since the first Sub-group meeting. IUCN mentioned that it had requested the IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group’s experience with monitoring and had received feedback that it would pass to the Secretariat for circulation to Sub-group members.
Before addressing the U.S. workshop proposal document, Dr Armstrong expressed the Secretariat’s disappointment that this issue had not been progressed by the Sub-group. He commented that the Dialogue had wanted to see a standardized protocol established promptly after the first Dialogue meeting so that countries doing turtle surveys could collect their data in a standardized format. In the absence of any progress in the Sub-group, Dr Armstrong suggested reviewing the protocols currently being used by the countries in the Sub-group and choosing a single protocol from amongst these. Barbados responded that because data has been collected to date using different protocols, some of which are more useful than others, they would prefer to meet and decide a standardized collection protocol rather than rely on any existing procedure. This view was shared by a number of other countries as well. Dr Armstrong therefore moved to open discussion of the U.S. workshop proposal document.
The United States briefly outlined the protocol workshop proposal, noting that the highest priority task of the Sub-group was to develop a standardized monitoring protocol. The proposed workshop would be held in Miami, Florida, in early February 2002. The United States emphasized that the workshop would be intended only for individuals with technical expertise and hoped to keep the total number of participants to about 15 people. The United States suggested that the workshop participants include the Sub-group members as well as Antigua and Barbuda, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. Following brief discussion amongst the Sub-group members, there was broad acceptance of the workshop proposal, with participation being limited to the Sub-group members.
Dr Armstrong raised the Secretariat’s concern about the February 2002 date suggested, and stated that it would be useful to communicate the standardized protocol and additional index sites to the Parties before Christmas. Barbados clarified that this season’s data collection was being finalized now and hence the February date would enable a standardized protocol to be developed before the next data collection season. The United States stated that it would not be possible to organize the meeting prior to Christmas and that February 2002 would be the earliest date possible for the workshop. The United States agreed to draft an agenda for the workshop as well as contact the member countries within the Sub-group to issue invitations.
The Secretariat advised that, in accordance with the wishes detailed in the Working Groups Summary Report, it would be seeking from Parties the results of their ongoing monitoring efforts.
Development of standardized trade/use monitoring protocols:
TRAFFIC North America reported that the guidelines for the Southern Caribbean trade study were currently being discussed. TRAFFIC requested from the Sub-group information on the possible uses of trade data, the kind of data needed and whether the study should focus only on hawksbill or be extended to other species as well.
Cuba agreed in general with the comments and recommendations of TRAFFIC. Cuba suggested expanding the study to cover all species of marine turtle since the study would provide an opportunity to obtain regional information. Cuba further recommended establishing priority countries for study, paying special attention to the eastern Caribbean (esp., the Lesser Antilles), where information is largely lacking. Barbados added that a post-graduate student from the University of the West Indies was undertaking a study on levels of harvest and socio-economic considerations in marine turtle trade in four countries of the eastern Caribbean, and might be willing to share the results of that research. Costa Rica added that they had just completed a national survey on turtle trade and would be willing to share that with the Sub-group. Additionally, Costa Rica reported that WIDECAST was developing a similar survey for Central America and the results should be available in one month. The Sub-group agreed with TRAFFIC’s proposal and asked TRAFFIC to progress this agenda item.
Identification of new index sites for long-term status monitoring:
Cuba referenced the comments they had sent to the Sub-group a day or two earlier on this agenda item, and stressed the need to address this agenda item at the February 2002 monitoring protocol workshop. Cuba stated that new index sites need to be developed based on ecosystem considerations, particularly for near islands, rather than geopolitical considerations.
In addition to Cuba, it was noted that information from Barbados, Costa Rica, and St Kitts and Nevis had been received. It was suggested that dialogue participants be reminded of the basic information being sought but this might be covered in the letter to CITES Management Authorities being sent by UNEP-WCMC.
Progress on the development of a clearinghouse mechanism:
UNEP-WCMC reported that Cuba had provided written comments on the clearinghouse mechanism proposal. Furthermore, the United States requested that the clearinghouse also accept information from experts working outside the national territories of the Hawksbill Dialogue Parties. Mexico suggested that a list of contacts could be put on the CITES website or in the UNEP-WCMC data-sharing facility and mentioned that the February workshop could facilitate the gather of data. Following brief discussion on the type of information to be included in the clearinghouse, it was agreed that UNEP-WCMC would circulate a questionnaire requesting scientific information as well as contact names of marine turtle experts. Following analysis of the initial data received, UNEP-WCMC would have a better idea of the funding needs for the remaining clearinghouse goals. Mexico noted that further discussion of data standardization could be undertaken at the monitoring protocol workshop.
Dr Armstrong reported that the Secretariat had recently appointed an intern whose highest priority would be to get the hawksbill documents and other information from the Dialogue posted on the CITES website.
Submission of information to IUCN on the biology/status of the species:
Barbados expressed concern that document sent to participants in the first Dialogue meeting gave two different dates (initially 30 September 2001 and extended to 31 October 2001) by which additional information should be sent to IUCN for use in revising the biology and population status papers. The Secretariat said it regretted any confusion that may have been caused by these references but hoped those interested would still manage to submit information.
IUCN reported that it had only received corrected/updated information on the biology and status of the species from Cuba. Dr Mainka reported that the IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group hoped to produce a revised report on the biology and status of the species by the end of the year. There was some confusion about whether the request was to provide updates of the information since the May 2001 Dialogue meeting or to update and correct the information already contained in the report. Dr Armstrong reminded the Sub-group that several participants at the Hawksbill Turtle Dialogue (including members of the Sub-group) had been critical of the information contained in the IUCN report. IUCN’s request was intended as an opportunity for those Parties to correct/update the information in the report. Dr Mainka noted that Parties would have an additional opportunity prior to the next Dialogue meeting to amend/correct the country-specific information.
Funding needs and priorities:
UNEP-WCMC reported that it had begun addressing the implementation of the additional objectives of the Clearinghouse Mechanism. The following potential funding sources were identified: the Global Environment Fund (GEF), United Nations foundation grants, and small foundations/charities. Based on a review of potential funding sources, there appeared to be approximately 30 funds that might be suitable, with the closest application deadlines being February/April 2002. UNEP-WCMC suggested that it might be appropriate to consider submitting a GEF grant proposal. However, that proposal would need to be submitted by a country since UNEP-WCMC was ineligible for GEF funds.
In response to a question from Mexico, UNEP-WCMC reported that it would be able to absorb the financial costs of fulfilling Objectives 1 and 2 of the Clearinghouse Mechanism. After fulfilling the first two objectives, it would have a better idea of funding requirements for Objective 3: Establishment of a metadata network. UNEP-WCMC agreed to work with the proposing country in preparation of a GEF grant application. It was agreed that the proposal would address more marine turtle species than just hawksbill. UNEP-WCMC committed to send a draft proposal to the Sub-group members after it received input and feedback following completion of Objective 2.
Participants of the Sub-group did not have any other business to discuss but it was suggested that the minutes should state clearly and precisely what information is required from participants for each organization undertaking certain action items.
Date and time of next teleconference:
The Sub-group’s next meeting, via teleconference, will be held some time after the February 2002 monitoring protocol meeting in Miami but before the next meeting of the Wider Caribbean Hawksbill Turtle Dialogue, to be held in May 2002. The Secretariat will identify a date and notify the meeting participants of the date and time.
Dr Armstrong concluded the meeting and thanked the members for their participation.
- The United States will draft an agenda for the monitoring protocol workshop, to be held in February 2002. The United States will also contact the Sub-group countries to extend invitations for technical experts to attend the workshop.
- TRAFFIC will conclude an MOU with the Secretariat for undertaking a trade/use survey of all marine turtles in the southern Caribbean. They also agreed to elaborate draft protocols on the monitoring of trade/use of hawksbill.
- UNEP-WCMC agreed to finalize and distribute to the CITES Management Authorities of Wider Caribbean a questionnaire requesting status monitoring data, expert contact information, and other relevant information to be included in the Clearinghouse Mechanism. In accordance with the Working Groups Summary Report, Parties will be requested to provide UNEP-WCMC with results from their ongoing monitoring of hawksbill populations.
- The Secretariat agreed to continue working on the translation of the Hawksbill Turtle Dialogue documents and Sub-group documents into the three working languages of the Convention. The Secretariat will post these documents on the CITES website under a hawksbill-specific link as soon as possible.
- UNEP-WCMC agreed to prepare and distribute a draft GEF grant proposal to the members of the Sub-group following completion of Objective 2 of the Clearinghouse Mechanism. The proposal will be a multi-species proposal and will be submitted in final form to GEF by one of the participating Parties.
- The Secretariat will distribute the minutes of this meeting to the Sub-group participants and post them on the CITES website.
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