One of main objectives of EAAFP is the creation of a Flyway Site Network. Ideally, this would result in a network of sites of international importance for migratory waterbirds throughout the countries of the Flyway. If these sites are effectively conserved and managed it would provide a framework to assure that the migratory routes of different waterbird populations and the places they depend on can be maintained into the future.
A report to the 7th Meeting of the Partners of the EAAFP (MOP7) in Alaska in 2013 by former Chief Executive Roger Jaensch identified almost 1,000 sites that meet criteria for international importance. The designation of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in the Philippines marked the 123rd Flyway Network Site. While the majority of potential sites remain to be nominated, it was interesting that, during the interactive CEPA exercise at MOP8 in Japan, most participants stated that more focus should be placed on strengthening management at existing sites, rather than nominating new sites. One way of strengthening management of sites is through sister site relationships, which also serve to increase the “networking” part of the Flyway Site Network. Promoting new sister sites and increased collaboration between existing sister sites was also a recommendation made at MOP8. We would encourage Partners to think about opportunities to strengthen site management and sister site relationships.
Tubbataha, meanwhile, is one of very few Flyway Network Sites that primarily conserves seabird species, notably terns and boobies, the movements of which we know little about. We would like to congratulate the Philippines on the nomination of Tubbataha, as well as the nomination of two additional sites, currently still under review.