Cooperation between the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia
In effect since 2001, the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia (IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU) is a specialized intergovernmental agreement concluded under the auspices of CMS. At present, it has 35 Signatory States, of which 25 are also members of the IOTC. A full list of Signatory States and non-Signatory Range States is available on the MOU website (https://www.cms.int/iosea-turtles/en). The MOU applies to the waters and coastal States of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia and adjacent seas, extending eastwards to the Torres Strait. It puts in place a framework through which States, territories, inter- and non-governmental stakeholders can work together to conserve marine turtle populations and their habitats for which they share responsibility. The MOU covers all species of marine turtles in the MOU area. The MOU Advisory Committee (AC), consisting of ten scientists chosen by Signatory States, provides scientific, technical and legal advice to the Signatory States and the Secretariat on the conservation and management of marine turtles and their habitats in the region. The expertise in the AC spans numerous fields, including bycatch mitigation. An integral part of the MOU is its Conservation and Management Plan (CMP), which focuses on reducing threats, including bycatch, and seeks to enhance national, regional and international cooperation. Based on the CMP, at the 8th Meeting of the Signatories to the IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU, held in October 2019 in Viet Nam, Signatory States adopted a detailed Work Programme for the period 2020-2024. The Work Programme instructs the MOU Secretariat to “Revive efforts to conclude a cooperation agreement with IOTC on marine turtles.” (WP #74). To implement this mandate, in 2021 the IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU Secretariat submitted paper IOTC-2021-WPEB17(AS)-31, which was noted by the WPEB, but no agreement was reached about whether the letter should be passed on to the Scientific Committee. Instead, the WPEB requested that the IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU Secretariat provide more information about the MOU’s structure and functioning and the rationale for the need for collaboration. This document intends to fulfil this request.