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SPREP commends Samoa upon milestone signing of Agreement to conserve migratory sharks

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme congratulated Samoa for its environmental leadership as Samoa signed a global Memorandum of Understanding to conserve migratory sharks.

SPREP commemorated the closing of Samoa’s National Environment Week on Friday, celebrating the special signing of the Migratory Shark MoU under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species. This now makes it the sixth Oceania country to sign on.

Statistics show that approximately 100 million sharks and their relatives are taken annually mainly for their fins but also for their meat, liver oil, leather and cartilage.

“The Environment Week and this MoU signing underlines the environmental leadership role of Samoa in the Pacific region,” said Mr. David Sheppard, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“Samoa’s environmental programmes, such as the one million tree programme, improved management of waste and water, and practical steps to address invasive species – are seen as models of best practice for our region. SPREP congratulates the Government of Samoa on these programmes and achievements.”

Sharks play a significant role in the culture of Samoa, featured in myths, legends, songs and proverbs. As the top predators that have roamed oceans for 400 million years, they play an important component in regulating and balancing the health of global marine environment.

“By signing the CMS MOU on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks, it is our step towards fighting the international battle for the protection of not only the migratory sharks listed but for other sharks species that are endangered,” said Associate Minister for Environment, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga.

“The status of Samoa’s sharks especially the migratory sharks are also considered data deficient. Although, seven migratory sharks listed in the MOU are found in the Pacific Island region, only six are found in Samoa. There has been no dedicated assessment to understand their population status and threats impacting their survival in the waters of Samoa – a gap in our knowledge which must be addressed.”

Samoa now joins 37 other signatories in the MoU which has become a global vehicle to conserve migratory sharks. It is also one of the countries in the Pacific islands region who also protect sharks in their Exclusive Economic Zone through a sanctuary. Other Pacific islands include the Cook Islands, Republic of Marshall Islands, Palau and Tokelau.

The Migratory Shark MoU encourages the management of sharks in recognition of the critical role they play in marine ecosystems and local economies while making an allowance for their long term sustainable use where appropriate. It encourages the application of an ecosystem based and precautionary approach to conservation measures for migratory sharks and currently protects seven species of migratory sharks with a possibility that this number will grow.

At the 25th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, SPREP members endorsed the preparation of a Pacific Shark Action Plan in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Forum Fisheries Agency for which the Migratory Shark MoU will play a key feature.

The signing of the CMS Migratory shark MoU and the closing of the Samoa National Environment Week took place at the National University of Samoa Fale on Friday evening. It was held while the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species is being hosted in Ecuador and ends on the 9 November. Also to sign the Migratory Shark MoU at the CMS COP 11 was Sweden.

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