Two new measures to promote Atlantic humpback dolphin conservation

Two new measures to promote Atlantic humpback dolphin conservation

Plenary discussions during the CMS 14th Conference of Parties in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Over the past week two valuable measures have been adopted that should help to raise awareness of, and support for conservation of the Critically Endangered Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii).

In the first instance, during its triennial Conference of Parties (COP) held in Uzbekistan on 12-17 February 2024, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) formally adopted a regional Single Species Action Plan (SSAP) for the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin.  The plan, which can be accessed here, examines the known threats to the species, ranks their severity, and details a series of recommended actions that are needed to address each one.  The plan places strong emphasis on capacity building and collaboration between a wide range of stakeholders at local, national, regional and international scales.  CCAHD Board and Secretariat members as well as many partner organisations were involved in the drafting of the SSAP, as well as a meeting in Senegal in September 2023 where Sousa teuszii range-country government representatives provided feedback and input into the final version of the plan.   The chair of the CCAHD Foundation’s Management Board, Maximin Djondo attended the CMS COP in Samarkand Uzbekestan, where he was able to formally express support for the SSAP and encourage other range-country and non-range-country representatives to do the same.  To learn more about the CMS COP and its outcomes, please feel free to access this summary.

Additionally, on February 20th the United States’ NOAA Fisheries agency announced a final rule to list Sousa teuszii, as an endangered species under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). This follows a comprehensive status review of the species and considered public comments submitted on the proposed rule as well as new information received. Based on the best available scientific and commercial information, NOAA Fisheries determined that the species is presently in danger of extinction throughout its range and warrants listing as an endangered species. The status review was prompted by a petition from the Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, and VIVA Vaquita on September 8, 2021 to list the Atlantic humpback dolphin as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA. The final status review report and the final rule may be downloaded from the following webpage: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/atlantic-humpback-dolphin#conservation-management.      CCAHD partners were also integrally involved in providing information, feedback, photos and peer-reviews during the various stages of the process that led to this official designation.

The ESA designation should help to draw international attention to the perilous consevation status of Atlantic humpback dolphins, and will hopefully inspire international and range country stake holders to prioritise conservation action and to mobilise the necessary funding and support for action on the ground.  Meanwhile the CMS SSAP provides a concrete road map for stakeholders looking for guidance on the specific conservation actions that are needed to try and halt the further decline of this species.  The CCAHD looks forward to working with all relevant stakeholders to disseminate and implement these two valuable measures.

CCAHD Foundation Management Board Chair, Maximin Djondo from Benin was able to advocate for the Single Species Action Plan for the Atlantic humpback dolphin.