A three-day EAAF Migratory Shorebird Stakeholder Workshop was hosted by WWF-Hong Kong in early December 2013. Its aim was to focus international attention on the ecological crisis facing migratory shorebird populations along the flyway and to develop a flyway-wide Migratory Shorebird Conservation Plan. The workshop brought together 23 key stakeholders including two Government agencies, seven non-government organisations with international conservation programs for migratory waterbirds, three waterbird conservation networks and three shorebird research organizations. This included the EAAFP secretariat, and Chairs of the Shorebird Working Group and Chair of the YellowSea Taskforce and the Monitoring Taskforce of the Partnership.
The event included presentations from participants, breakout sessions to discuss key issues such as threats facing migratory shorebirds and critical shorebird sites in the flyway, as well as a field trip to the Mai Po Nature Reserve, a Flyway Network Site. Workshop participants focused their effort on how to make the most strategic contribution to the problem and concluded in respect of the importance of tidal flats in North Asia to the migration cycle of shorebirds and the continued loss of those flats due to land claim and conversion to unfavourable aquaculture e.g. Sea cucumber farms, the Yellow Sea is the priority geographic region within the Flyway for action. Participants expressed alarm at the sheer number and scale of coastal land claim projects underway on the China side of the Yellow Sea as shown by recent satellite imagery. Other issues highlighted at the workshop included the need for further research on the migration routes of shorebirds that spend their non-breeding periods in Southeast Asian countries.
The major achievement of the workshop was consensus on the process to develop and implement the Conservation Plan. At the heart of the plan is a novel approach to initially focus on ‘collaboration’ sites / regions that are developed with view to their replication by other local governments and coastal Provincial/Prefectural Governments around the Yellow Sea. A draft report on the stakeholder workshop including presentations and outcomes can be requested from Mr. Bena Smith < firstname.lastname@example.org >, Conservation Manager – Regional Wetland Projects at WWF-Hong Kong.
A consultation document is expected to be available in early 2014, and the final plan itself launched at the MoP 8 of the EAAFP. Chairs of the three relevant Working Groups and Taskforces within the EAAFP will circulate a copy of the draft to their members. Other EAAFP members are invited to contribute to the development of the Plan during the consultation phase by contacting Mr. Bena Smith at the above email address.
UPDATE 7 April 2014: A more detailed report of the workshop can be read here