The Asian Wetland Symposium 2017 was held in Saga, Japan from 7 to 10 November 2017 and brought together 450 participants from 26 countries. EAAFP Communication Officer Tomoko Ichikawa gave a presentation on the implementation of World Migratory Bird Day in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway in the Session 8 on CEPA and co-chaired the Session 2 on Policy, Change, and International Cooperation. The meeting concluded with the adoption of the Saga Statement with 8 items that calls for ensuring a holistic approach to conserve coastal wetland ecosystems and delivering CEPA programmes that lead to direct conservation actions.
On 8 November, the EAAFP Secretariat co-organised a side event “Population Decline of Migratory Waterbirds and Habitat Changes – Shorebirds as Indicators” with BirdLife International-Tokyo and the Ramsar Network Japan. The objectives were to compile and analyse the long-term shorebird monitoring data in Japan that consequently showed the decline of shorebirds population along with the habitat loss, and to disseminate the message of the urgent need for conservation in Yellow Sea and Southeast Asia, which are facing similar acute development pressures as Japan experienced a few decades ago.
In the side event, a series of presentations highlighted the difficulty of managing wetland ecosystems and the services they provide in the face of rapid development. These presentations included the decline of shorebirds in Japan by Toshimitsu Nuka of the Wild Bird Society of Japan, the status of waterbird populations in Yellow Sea by Chen Kelin of Wetlands International-China, and the challenges of wetland management in the highly-developed Tokyo Bay by Tatsuya Shibahara of the Yatsuhigata Nature Observation Centre [EAAF059]. A short movie Wetlands in Those Good Old Days, was shown, in which a Japanese fisherman and a conservationist described the local life when the tidal flat ecosystem was much healthier with a lot of migratory waterbirds, and emphasised the importance of conserving healthy tidal flats. A recent CMS decision that highlights the importance of the coastal conservation was introduced. Over 80 participants attended, and an active discussion resulted on how to develop and deepen transboundary cooperation for improved shorebirds conservation.
The Wetland Link International Asia 6th Conference was held back to back with the AWS on 6 and 9 November, to network and train wetland visitor centre managers in Asia. The EAAFP Secretariat gave a presentation to introduce EAAFP and its CEPA activities, facilitated group discussion, interpreted explanations during the excursion, and helped in photography.