The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), also known as the Bonn Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that extends conservation protections to migratory avian, terrestrial, and aquatic fauna throughout their range. CMS is the only international treaty focusing on migratory species, and it encourages the research, education, and protection of such species, as well as the restoration and conservation of their habitats and migration routes. It covers endangered and threatened species, as well as those who would benefit from global protections.

St. Maarten is a member (“Party”) of CMS through the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Both sections of the Convention have species found on St. Maarten seasonally. Local legislation provides additional protections for CMS I and II-listed species.

How is CMS implemented locally?

In St. Maarten, CMS protects species listed in Appendixes I are protected by establishing local regulations that prohibit the ability of people to harm, kill, harass, take, possess, or trade them. These regulations can be found in St. Maarten’s nature ordinance. The Nature Foundation is responsible for responding to SPAW violations along with the Prosecutor’s office and the Korps Politie Sint Maarten, the local police force.

What does it mean for a species to be protected by CMS?

In St. Maarten, species protected by CMS cannot be taken or disturbed. In addition, the Nature Foundation is responsible for taking action to protect crucial habitats and prevent harmful situations for CMS species whose migration routes could be impacted.

What are some local and migratory species protected by CMS in St. Maarten?

These are some of the most commonly found migratory species protected by CMS. This is not a comprehensive list and does not reflect the totality of CMS-listed species around St. Maarten. A list of all CMS-protected species can be found on the CMS website.

  • All sea turtles (Cheloniidae)
  • All sawfish (Pristidae)
  • Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
  • Shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus)
  • Longfin mako (Isurus paucus)
  • Great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
  • Whale shark (Rhincodon typus)
  • Coalfish whale (Balaenoptera borealis)
  • Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
  • Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
  • Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
  • Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
  • Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
  • American kestrel (Falco sparverius)
  • Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii dougallii)
  • Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)
  • Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
What are the different CMS Appendixes and what do they mean?

CMS divides its species into two appendixes that reflect differing levels of protection based on their global population status. They are as follows:

Appendix I applies to endangered migratory species whose populations are at risk of extinction. CMS states that Parties should conserve and restore their habitats, prevent or mitigate activities that disrupt their migration, and take action to manage factors that put their population at risk. Appendix I also prohibits their ‘taking’ except under extenuating circumstances, such as scientific research. There are 179 species protected by Appendix I globally and 15 species in St. Maarten.

Appendix II lists migratory species whose populations are unfavorable or declining but not endangered and species whose conservation status would be improved by protection. Parties with Appendix II-listed species in their range must reach ‘Agreements’ with other members. These Agreements range in their formality but present data, establish goals and develop regulations to protect such species. Appendix II lists 524 species globally and over 50 species in St. Maarten.

Who manages and takes part in CMS?

CMS was signed in 1979 as part of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and has 132 states as Parties. It currently protects 657 species. Conferences meet at least every three years to review and assess the species list. Its framework for threatened protections is based on coordination and decentralization, as members use their discretion to reach formal or informal agreements.