From January 31st to February 2nd, Barbados participated virtually in the Tenth Meeting of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) of the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol. Barbados also served as the rapporteur, summarising the recommendations laid out during the proceedings.
The Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife was adopted as the second protocol to the Cartagena Convention and has, to date, been ratified by over 30 Caribbean countries and territories. The SPAW Protocol is a regional treaty established in 1990 with the objective of protecting rare and fragile ecosystems and habitats, thereby protecting the endangered and threatened species, of the wider Caribbean region. To reach this goal, the SPAW Protocol provides support for a range of issues including the protection of endangered species, conservation of important habitats, sustainable use and management of biological resources, and prevention of pollution of marine and coastal environments. The Protocol also acts as a vehicle to assist with the regional implementation of the broader and more demanding global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which the Government of Barbados ratified on December 10, 1993.
The SPAW Protocol encourages collaboration among countries in the region, as well as international organisations and stakeholders. It provides a platform for sharing information, expertise, and best-practices related to biodiversity conservation. International cooperation is important in addressing environmental challenges faced by the region to develop effective solutions for conservation and sustainable development hurdles.
The STAC is a group of scientific and technical experts from a range of disciplines, including biology, ecology and policy, who provide advice and recommendations to the SPAW Protocol’s decision-making bodies. The STAC meets regularly to discuss issues related to biodiversity, including the assessment of species and habitats, the identification of priority areas for conservation, and the development of management plans and strategies. The committee’s guidance helps to ensure that SPAW areas are designated and managed in a way that responsibly maximises their conservation value. Discussed at the Tenth Meeting of the SPAW STAC were matters regarding the conservation and management of whale sharks, manta rays, sea turtles and parrotfishes among other species, the establishment of marine protected areas, marine mammal conservation, sargassum, and the risks of the emerging deep-sea mining industry.