The Secretariat is pleased to report that on 6 November 2007, the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, H. E. Marthinus van Schalkwyk (pictured on the left) signed the Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation Measures for Marine Turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa - a sister agreement to the IOSEA MoU, developed under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) between 1999 and 2002.
The signature was overseen by Senior CMS Advisor Douglas Hykle in the margins of the Joint Conferences of the Parties of the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions, taking place in Johannesburg.
South Africa’s signature of the African Atlantic Turtle MoU is symbolically important inasmuch as it brings about universal membership among countries of the African continent. All 23 African Range States are now on board. It is hoped that South Africa’s signature will give new impetus for three European States with territories in the agreement area – namely, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom – to sign the MoU in their own right.
The signature is also of strategic and practical importance in view of South Africa’s unique position as a bridge between the Atlantic and IOSEA MoUs. Satellite telemetry and genetic studies have shown that there is mixing of leatherback turtle populations (and probably loggerheads as well) between the two oceans. From a practical standpoint, South Africa’s participation in both instruments may afford an opportunity for enhancing substantive linkages and lessons learned between the two MoUs.
On a personal level, having led the initiative to develop the African Atlantic Turtle MoU in the late 1990s, during his tenure as CMS Deputy Executive Secretary, the closing of this chapter was particularly satisfying for Douglas Hykle. Moreover, as an indication of his own longevity in office, Minister van Schalkwyk is one of very few officials to have formally endorsed two CMS conservation instruments, having signed the IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU on behalf of South Africa in 2005.
For more information on the CMS Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation Measures for Marine Turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa, please visit the Convention on Migratory Species website: