Supporting the Blue Corridors Approach for the Wider Caribbean Region

WWF-NL in collaboration with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the government of France, the secretariat of SPAW and SPAW RAC and the Agoa Sanctuary, gave a presentation on Blue Corridors for the Wider Caribbean Region. During the Conference of Parties for the Cartagena Convention (COPs) these partners illustrated how this approach can support the protection of the migration routes of whales and dolphins in this region.

 

Whales can travel enormous distances as they migrate between their critical ocean habitats. These connected migration routes are called whale superhighways or blue corridors. In February 2022, WWF and scientific partners published a global report called ‘Protecting Blue Corridors’. This report gives an overview of critical ocean habitats that overlap with a range of threats from human activities and highlights solutions to protect these blue corridors.

During the convention, WWF-NL and its partners urged for regional collaboration between researchers, local communities, industry, and governments for the Wider Caribbean Region. They aim to support the mapping of these whale superhighways and critical habitats in a ‘Blue Corridors for the Wider Caribbean Region’ report by making any data on these species available for this purpose. Organizations and individuals can show their support for this initiative by signing a commitment form via this webpage. WWF-NL and its partners are currently expanding their network as a first step to this regional collaboration.

This plea for collaboration was also emphasized by Minister of LNV, Christianne van der Wal during the High Level Ministerial event of the Cartagena Cop. In her speech she stated: “Governments cannot reach goals on their own. It will be the key to work together and take into account the different needs and challenges.”

Over a third of all whale and dolphin species can be found in the Caribbean. Whales contribute to healthy oceans, resilient coral reefs, and tourism. Growing evidence also shows that whales play a role in maintaining our global climate. Protected areas can provide a haven for whales and dolphins. But once they travel from one (protected) area to another to feed, mate, give birth, nurse young, or socialize they are at risk from entanglement in fisheries, underwater noise from oil and gas exploration, collisions with ships, and more. We support and are happy to see that the whale shark , giant manta ray, Oceanic Whitetip Shark and Lesser Antillean Iguana now holds the Annex II status of the SPAW Protocol. This means that trade or even disturbance of these animals is forbidden by law.

All parrotfishes and the Caribbean reef shark are included in Annex III. It is allowed to capture these animals but there are rules to make sure that the population remains balanced. WWF also applauds the adoption of the updated Marine Mammal Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Mammals in the Caribbean.

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