On the 5th and 6th of October 2022 the first meeting of the national Focal Points to the Pan European Action Plan for sturgeons, that was adopted by the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats in December 2018, took place in Strasbourg. Those 34 of the 51 ratifying parties to the Bern Convention for which the PANEUAP would be of relevance since they would be responsible for the management of sturgeon populations, agreed to nominate persons that are responsible to oversee the implementation of the PANEUAP and that would serve are coordinators nationally between different actors and stakeholder involved in conservation. To date 15 countries have lived up to their commitment.
The meeting which was supported by WSCS and WWF aimed at a first exchange of experiences from the implementation of the PANEUAP to initiate a networking approach between the Focal Points. The two-day meeting, organized by the Bern Convention Secretariat, collected the experiences through a questionnaire prior to the meeting. The outcome was presented. Subsequent discussions during the event were focused on strategies and approaches to cope with the challenges of the PANEUAP implementation. Several issues were considered common in many of the countries, comprising the lack of coordination between sectors, funding, technical support such as guidelines and capacity building. The networking aspect was considered very important to facilitate exchange and to allow capacity building not only through the focal points but also for the practitioners in the respective catchments. Furthermore, the role of the Bern Convention as an umbrella for established regional activities which would be in the position to facilitate exchange between them and to link the outcome to EU and national ministries was much appreciated. It was agreed to aim for physical meetings at least in a biannual cycle and online meetings in between, depending on available resources from the Secreteriat, while at the same time inviting the absent parties to join in to increase the efficacy of exchange and collaboration.