Turning the Tide

Date: 2010/10/28


WAZA mobilizes World's Aquariums to maximize their potential towards conserving biodiversity


Gland, Switzerland: WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) officially launches the first Global Aquarium Strategy and its Japanese translation, on October 28th, 2010 during the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan.  Entitled `Turning the Tide: A Global Aquarium Strategy for Conservation and Sustainability', it is the Aquarium Community's first coordinated response to reducing biodiversity loss in marine and freshwater ecosystems.


"Responsible aquariums strive to foster in our visitors an appreciation of the magnificent range of life in our oceans and river systems," says Mark Penning, WAZA President.  "Life on earth depends on these systems being healthy. We are inextricably linked, and healthy oceans, rivers, lakes and estuaries mean healthy people. For your sake, and for your children's sake, listen to what we have to say."


Public aquariums are already actively engaged in a large, diverse, and ever-expanding programme of conservation and sustainability initiatives from conservation breeding through to the restoration and re-stocking of natural marine and freshwater habitats. Earlier this month, WAZA released the results of the first global appraisal of its members` worldwide projects. The essential contributions that zoos and aquariums are making to biodiversity conservation were clearly demonstrated.  


"As an official partner organization of CBD, WAZA is proud to launch the Global Aquarium Strategy on behalf of its members." says Gerald Dick, WAZA Executive Director. "Aquariums have an essential role to play in conserving water related species. And they currently respond to threats such as global warming by working on coral reef conservation.  This new strategy details the concrete steps that the world's aquariums will take to coordinate and increase their impact in these and other areas in the future. "


Over 200 million people visit the World's 300 Aquariums each year.  Public aquariums, in partnership with other organizations, have a massive potential to tackle global issues in conserving aquatic biodiversity and water resources, alongside issues in fisheries, environmental management, aquatic animal welfare, human development and poverty alleviation. In Japan, JAZA (Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums) endorses the new Global Aquarium Strategy as the only way forward for Japanese Aquariums.


"Contributing to biodiversity conservation is a top priority for JAZA.  We currently support aquatic conservation and zoo field projects such as the Tsushima Leopard Cat Project," says Mr. Shigeyuki Yamamoto, JAZA Chairman.  "The role that Zoos and Aquariums play in conservation is not yet well defined in Japan.  However, thanks to this new strategy, the tide is turning in Japan.  JAZA commits to supporting its members in making this strategy a reality."


Article 8 of the CBD calls for the development of protected areas as a primary ‘in situ’ conservation tool, while Article 9 of the CBD calls for complementary ‘ex situ’ measures aimed at the recovery of threatened species and their reintroduction into natural habitats. Zoos and Aquariums are repositories of genes and species that have been lost in the wild,  a modern Noah’s ark of life on Earth.  As species continue to become extinct in the short and mid-term, there will be an increasingly pressing need to preserve biodiversity in zoos and aquariums and to draw on the expertise of these institutions for eventual possible reintroductions into the wild.


An example of community based conservation initiatives that has spread globally and has strong public aquarium links is ‘Project Seahorse’ in the Philippines. Project seahorse has been working with local communities in the Philippines and elsewhere to set up voluntary marine protected areas and to bring the harvest of seahorses to a sustainable level, creating what was the first internationally managed programme for a marine fish within the public aquarium community.  www.projectseahorse.org



> to overview

  • Notes to Editors

    The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is a global organisation that harmonises the principles, policies, practices and strategy of over 1,300 leading zoos and aquariums.  WAZA is the unifying representative of the global zoo and aquarium community and works in partnership with IUCN, national governments and non-governmental organisations to ensure high standards of animal welfare and to achieve conservation in zoos and aquariums (ex situ) and in nature (in situ).