CITES MEMBERS TAKE UNSUSTAINABLE THREATS TO ECOSYSTEMS, ECONOMIES, AND PEOPLE SERIOUSLY IN A BOLD MOVE TO PROTECT EARTH’S BIODIVERSITY, SAYS CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL.
Arlington, Va. – The close of the 16th meeting of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) cemented the Bangkok meeting as a major conservation contribution with the historic regulation of international trade of five species of sharks and manta rays and almost all rosewood tree species.
These species have now been listed in CITES’s Appendix II, which does not ban their trade, but offers a greater level of protection and regulation of their international trade through supervision and accountability. These include oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, and scalloped, great and smooth hammerhead sharks, manta rays, and rosewood and ebony trees from S.E. Asia, Central America, Brazil and Madagascar, all of which are severely threatened but highly commercially valuable.
Along with these decisions on sharks and timber, the CITES Parties adopted measures that will contribute to better trade management and conservation for elephants, rhinos, turtles, Asian big cats and crocodiles.
“CITES is our most important international agreement in protecting a wide range of species against the illegal wildlife trade, which is comparable to the drug trade in global proportions and negative impact” said Dr. Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International. “When one considers the current long term damage occurring to biodiversity and the ecosystems upon which we all depend, such impact probably exceeds that of other illegal global activities. Listing these commercially valuable species is a major success showing that nations are beginning to understand that further loss of such critically important natural capital represents a threat to all of us.”
The illegal wildlife trade is a worldwide black market which is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar business. It also is a catalyst for other criminal activities that pose significant risk to species, livelihoods and national security around the world.
“The progress and goodwill of this meeting stands in stark contrast to the 2010 meeting in Qatar, which did little to bolster the status of endangered elephants, rhinos or sharks,” said Dr. Peter Paul van Dijk, director of CI’s Turtle Conservation Program, and leader of the CI team at CITES. Much more remains to be done for a large suite of species and commodities in international trade, ranging from elephants, rhinos, turtles, pangolins, sharks and rays, to rosewood, ebony and sandalwood, but it appears that more and more of the Parties to CITES realize that sustainability is the only viable way forward. We are leaving Bangkok with more hope than we arrived with two weeks ago.”
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