By : Humane Society International November 1, 2018 Category : International conservation treaties

The objective of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is to conserve terrestrial, avian and marine species over the whole of their migratory range. It arose from a recognition of the need for countries to cooperate in conserving animals which migrate across national boundaries or between national territorial waters and the high seas.

HSI urges the Australian and other member governments to use the CMS to its fullest potential. We often suggest species nominations and the development of agreements to benefit migratory wildlife and prevent further endangerment. HSI has usually been the pressure behind Australian government initiatives to list threatened albatross and shark species and pursue regional agreements for albatross, shark, turtle and marine mammal conservation.

HSI will often join the Australian government as a member of their delegation to the Convention, lend our expertise in wildlife protection and ensure the delegation maintains a strong conservation position. HSI has taken part in negotiations for regional cooperation for the albatrosses and petrels, sharks and for marine turtles, as an adviser on the Australian Government delegation.

The Australian government has historically been a positive and active participant at the Convention. At the 1997 meeting in Geneva, Australia successfully nominated albatross species to the CMS appendices and spearheaded a regional agreement for these species—the Agreement for the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels. Australia has also been a leader in achieving regional cooperation for whales, turtles, sharks and the dugong. Recently, however, Australia has not delivered well on domestic protection for migratory sharks, buckling to pressure from commercial and recreational fishers which has seen Australia take out ‘reservations’ against CMS shark protections.

The CMS has two appendices:

  • Appendix I includes migratory species at risk of extinction throughout all or a portion of their range. Strict conservation, obligations are imposed on parties to the convention which are a range state for these species.

  • Appendix II consists of species with an unfavourable conservation status and are dependent on international agreements for their successful conservation, or if they have a conservation status that would significantly benefit from international cooperation. This means a species does not have to be endangered to warrant listing on Appendix II. There are no direct obligations imposed on the parties for Appendix II species but they are required to develop further 'agreements' for their protection according to guidelines established by the Treaty.


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HSI concentrates on the preservation of endangered animals and ecosystems and works to ensure quality of life for all animals, both domestic and wild. HSI is the largest animal protection not-for-profit organisation in the world and has been established in Australia since 1994