AWI Works to Protect Wildlife in the Caribbean

The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region—commonly referred to as the Cartagena Convention—is the only legally binding regional environmental treaty focused on the protection of biodiversity. Adopted in 1983 in Cartagena, Colombia, the treaty entered into force in 1986. It is implemented through three additional agreements: the Oil Spills Protocol, the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol), and the Land-Based Sources of Marine Pollution Protocol.

The SPAW Protocol was adopted in 1990 and entered into force in 2000. From the beginning, AWI has been an active participant in the operation of this protocol. In particular, AWI has contributed to the development of (1) species and marine protected area listing guidelines and criteria and (2) a comprehensive framework to address marine mammal protection known as the Marine Mammal Action Plan.

AWI also helps protect the integrity of the SPAW Protocol’s provisions that prohibit activities likely to harm or destroy protected animal and plant species (those listed on the SPAW annexes). As in many treaties, exemption clauses within the protocol allow member nations to conduct certain otherwise prohibited activities if deemed necessary for the protection or recovery of endangered species—for example, actions taken for management, education, or scientific purposes.

The SPAW Protocol is a critical and collaborative mechanism to protect biodiversity in the Caribbean region, and AWI remains committed to ensuring its success. At the SPAW Protocol’s November 2016 Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee biennial meeting in Miami, Florida, AWI secured commitments to identify and respond to activities by member nations that may be in violation of the treaty. AWI also compiled data on activities, such as hunting, that continue in direct violation of the protocol, but are not currently being reported or have not been officially exempted.