Conference on Western Hemisphere Migratory Species


[A reprint of a US FWS press release on the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Conference held in Termas de Puyehue, Chile, 6-8 October 2003, with the participation of Margarita Astrálaga, Ramsar Regional Coordinator for the Americas.]

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Division of International Conservation
1401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 730
Arlington, VA 22203

Contact: Jeff Flocken: 703/358-1950 For Release: October 27, 2003

Conference on Western Hemisphere Migratory Species
Finds Mutual Concerns and Charts a Path for the Future

In a demonstration of shared commitment to wildlife conservation, representatives from 25 countries in the Western Hemisphere were joined by members from over 40 international NGO conservation groups and wildlife conservation stakeholders to develop strategies for cooperation for conservation of migratory species and collaboration on wildlife conservation issues among the countries of the Western Hemisphere.

"Wildlife unites us as neighbors throughout the hemisphere," said John Turner, Assistant Secretary, US Department of State, and United States representative at the Conference. "We all share these magnificent living resources. I am very pleased to join together with representatives from throughout the region at this historic get-together. We've strengthened relationships, we've shared our common concerns regarding threats to species, and we've established a precedent to move forward."

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of State brought together these wildlife conservation decision-makers at the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Conference which took place in Termas de Puyehue, Chile, on October 6, 7, and 8, 2003.

"It is of great interest to my country to get involved in conserving migratory species, as they could be a base tool to protect and conserve native habitat and species as well. What better way to participate in this movement than the involvement of Guatemala in the Conference on Migratory Species of the Western Hemisphere," said Jose Luis Lopez, the Guatemala representative.

The products of the meeting included: (1) a detailed, prioritized list of issues of conservation concern needing international collaboration; (2) an emerging matrix of tools available from NGOs, international conventions, and government bodies to address these identified needs; and (3) a strategy for follow-up calling for an interim forum to build upon the momentum of the Conference.

This interim forum will be headed by a committee comprised of: 5 government representatives from various regions of the Western Hemisphere, 4 representatives from the NGO conservation community, and representatives from applicable international conventions.

Members of the interim steering committee include the following representatives: Herb Raffaele, USA - Coordinator; Maria Rivera, Colombia; Jorge Luis Cravino, Uruguay; Donald Anthony, Saint Lucia; Jose Calvo, Costa Rica; Rob Clay, Guyra Paraguay/Birdlife International; Carlos Dreus, World Wildlife Fund; Melanie Steinkamp, Wetlands International; David Pashley, American Bird Conservancy; Lyle Glowka, Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species; Margarita Astralaga, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands; and Marco Solano, Sea Turtle Convention.

The Conference country representatives unanimously elected Herb Raffaele, Division of International Conservation Chief for US Fish & Wildlife Service, to chair the interim committee and ensure that the progress in international collaboration for wildlife conservation made at the Conference continues.

"The country representatives and participating NGOs took full advantage of this historic opportunity to establish conservation priorities for migratory species throughout the hemisphere," said Dr. Raffaele. "And perhaps more importantly, they opened a door to future coordination and collaboration on conserving wildlife on a hemispheric scale."

The core charges of the interim committee will be to: (1) Follow-up on the ideas brought about through the Conference; (2) Produce and disseminate baseline reports on priorities and tools identified at the Conference by country representatives; and (3) Develop a mechanism for establishment of a permanent body to address Western Hemispheric priority issues in the conservation of migratory species.

This was the first time in more than four decades that representatives of the fish and wildlife agencies of the hemisphere had met to discuss issues of mutual concern. The deterioration of the environment and habitats for migratory species is a problem of great importance and is tied to development of the Americas, as degradation of the environment threatens not only migratory species, but the capacity of the nations of the hemisphere to develop their own economies and enhance social welfare.

Proceedings from the Conference will be published and distributed widely to Conference participants and decision-makers in Western Hemisphere wildlife conservation. Additionally, the Conference participants have committed to following-up on the issues and needs identified during the meetings, and gathering again within two years to analyze progress made on these issues, as well as continue the discussion on further opportunities to work together into the future.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at

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