As the last day drew to a close, the Consultative Committee finalized its reports and used its individual work groups to establish potential recommendations for the Conference of the Parties. The work groups will continue to draft resolutions the Convention can consider at its Conference next summer. Unfortunately, in leaving time for the closing and the election of the next chair, there was not sufficient time to fully discuss the matters of a Permanent Secretariat and hosting proposals. It was, however, established that there will be a procedure to decide the legal workings of the Permanent Secretariat and the best host at the next Conference. While this may seem a further delay, only the entire Convention of all Contracting Parties at a Conference can establish the resolutions necessary for hosting. As such, the Consultative Committee’s creation of procedures under which Stetson’s proposal and the remaining proposals will be considered should help insure the process to its completion and keep Stetson as a very strong host option.
Although the Consultative Committee of Experts didn’t make any definite decisions in regards to hosting, many of its members are also representatives of countries in the actual Convention. Also, the Secretariat and many of the influential leaders of the Convention were present to study and enjoy the hosting capabilities and advantages of Stetson together with the Tampa Bay marine community. Participants were incredibly grateful for Stetson hosting the Committee and they saw many potential benefits of Stetson’s strong marine law program coupled with the readily accessible and impressive area marine resources. Hopefully, this visit to our community will help Stetson become the host for the Inter-American Sea Turtle Treaty and its Permanent Secretariat.
Participants of the Seventh Consultative Committee Meeting concluded their visit with a trip to the Florida Aquarium sponsored by the aquarium and Stetson. The Sustany® Foundation also kindly donated transportation for everyone involved. Once there, participants were welcomed to view the exhibits as well as the aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation facilities. The aquarium’s active and successful sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation is one of the few such programs authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Those who went on the trip enjoyed the introduction to Florida’s incredible marine and aquatic ecosystems and organisms. (Logo is from the aquarium.)
In summary, the Tampa Bay marine community stood together to attract and encourage the Inter-American Sea Turtle Secretariat to establish a home at Stetson University. In testament to the area’s scientific institutions and conservation groups, the Consultative Committee was impressed with what Stetson, in concert with area marine groups, can offer the great and struggling sea turtle, nesting and hatching in sand before swimming the seven seas and returning home again to beaches all throughout the Americas.