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New CITES trade rules proposed
for wild plants and animals
Toothfish, mahogany, whales, elephants, vicuña,
and turtles at issue
14 June 2002 The Secretariat of the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has
announced today the receipt from member governments of 54
proposals to amend the lists of species subject to trade controls
Some of the important issues raised by this years proposals
include what role CITES should play regarding commercially valuable
fish and timber species and the kinds of incentives that local communities
will need to continue protecting the wildlife that surrounds them,
said Willem Wijnstekers, the Conventions Secretary-General.
CITES efforts to reduce threats to individual wild
species are vital to the broader goal of making environmental conservation
and poverty reduction mutually supportive, said Klaus Töpfer,
Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme,
which administers the CITES Secretariat.
The CITES lists, or Appendices,
are revised every two-and-a-half years. Appendix I prohibits all
commercial trade in some 900 species that are threatened with extinction.
Appendix II regulates trade in 4,000 animal and 22,000-plus plant
species through a system of permits. The deadline for submitting
the new proposals was 6 June, and the Secretariat will issue its
comments on these proposals in July. The Conventions 158 Parties
will then meet in Santiago, Chile from 3 to 15 November to decide
whether to accept, reject or modify the proposals.
Of particular interest will be the debate over the proposed listing
in Appendix II of two species of toothfish, or Chilean sea bass.
The toothfish proposals raise the issue of CITESs role regarding
valuable and heavily traded fish stocks and its relationship to
regional fisheries agreements, the Food and Agriculture Organization
and other international regimes. Other species proposed for inclusion
on Appendix II include bigleaf mahogany, seahorses and 26 species
of freshwater turtles.
A high-profile item for the Santiago
conference will be the African elephant. After an eight-year
ban on ivory sales, three African countries Botswana, Namibia
and Zimbabwe were allowed to make one-time sales from their
existing legal raw ivory stocks in 1997. They made proposals for
annual quotas in 2000 but then withdrew them. The debate over elephants
has focused on the benefits that income from ivory sales may bring
to local communities and conservation programmes versus the concern
that such sales may inspire increased poaching.
This year, the three countries plus South Africa are proposing
a one-off sale of existing ivory stocks followed later by annual
quotas. The proposals are for a first sale of 20,000 kg and an annual
quota of 4,000 kg for Botswana, 10,000 kg and 2,000 kg respectively
for Namibia, 30,000 and 2,000 for South Africa and 10,000 and 5,000
for Zimbabwe. Zambia too is now proposing a one-off sale of 17,000
kg. India and Kenya, on the other hand, are proposing that all African
elephant populations be returned to Appendix I.
A number of other proposals involve transferring species from Appendix
I to Appendix II in order to permit trade. Cuba would like to sell
7,800 kg of hawksbill turtle shells from existing legal stockpiles.
Japan is seeking the transfer of most northern hemisphere populations
of minke whale and a Pacific population of Brydes whale; its
proposals stress the use of national legislation and DNA identification
of individual whales to monitor catches and trade. Argentina, Bolivia
and Chile want to expand their ability to sell the fine silky wool
sheared from live vicuña to include a number of additional
Note to journalists: For further information please contact Michael
Williams at +41-22-917-8242 /8196 /8244 or email@example.com.
The proposals are being posted at www.cites.org.