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CITES takes action to promote
management and combat illegal trade
revises trade rules for ramin, great white shark,
humphead wrasse, crocodiles, rhinos and Irrawaddy dolphin
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Bangkok, 14 October 2004 - A two-week meeting of the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora (CITES) will close here today after agreeing decisions
to strengthen wildlife management, combat illegal trafficking and
update the trade rules for a wide range of plant and animal species.
"The Bangkok conference has crafted solutions to meet the
particular needs of many wildlife species that are either endangered
or that could become so if traded unsustainably," said Secretary-General
Willem Wijnstekers of CITES, whose secretariat is administered by
the UN Environment Programme.
"These solutions seek to conserve the earth's rich heritage
of biological diversity while supporting the sustainable development
of local communities and national economies," he said.
The conference decided to place ramin (a Southeast Asian tree that
produces high-value timber) and agarwood (which produces "agar"
oil) on Appendix II. By requiring the use of CITES export permits,
these listings will improve the ability of the ramin and agarwood
range states to manage tree stocks. It will also allow both exporters
and importers to ensure that trade is sustainable and to tackle
The great white shark and the humphead wrasse - two fish species
of great commercial value - were also added to CITES and can now
only be traded with permits. Another marine species, the Irrawaddy
dolphin, was transferred from Appendix II to Appendix I, which forbids
all commercial trade.
"In recent years CITES has started to list commercially valuable
fish species such as sturgeon, seahorses, and the basking and whale
sharks. The addition of more listings this week suggests that governments
believe CITES can contribute to the goal agreed at the 2002 Johannesburg
World Summit on Sustainable Development of restoring fishery stocks
to sustainable levels by 2015," said Mr. Wijnstekers.
The African elephant was the subject of extensive debate. The conference
agreed to an ambitious action plan for cracking down on unregulated
domestic markets in elephant ivory. These markets serve as major
outlets for poached ivory, particularly in a number of African and
Asian countries. Under the action plan, all African elephant range
states will strengthen their legislation and their enforcement efforts,
launch public awareness campaigns and report on progress by end-March
A request by Namibia for an annual quota for ivory from its national
elephant population was not accepted. However, Namibia did receive
permission for the strictly controlled sale of traditional ivory
carvings known as ekipas as tourist souvenirs.
In addition, in 2002 Namibia, Botswana and South Africa were each
authorized to make a one-off sale of their existing ivory stocks,
with the precondition that baseline data first be established on
population and poaching levels throughout the elephant's range.
The Bangkok meeting was informed that this data should be available
in 2005, which could permit the sales to proceed by 2006.
The meeting agreed that Namibia and South Africa may open up trophy
hunting of the black rhino for the first time in many years, with
an annual quota of five animals each. Swaziland may also open up
strictly controlled hunting of its population of white rhino and
export some live animals. The intent of these decisions is to allow
the range states to manage their rhino herds more effectively and
to earn income for rhino conservation.
The Namibian population of the Nile crocodile was transferred from
Appendix I to Appendix II to facilitate trophy hunting. The Cuban
population of the American crocodile was similarly downlisted to
enable the government to supply eggs and hatchlings to ranching
The conference gave more protection to five Asian turtles and tortoises
and 11 species of Madagascar's leaf-tailed geckos by listing them
on Appendix II. Many turtles from South, Southeast and East Asia
are traded in significant quantities for regional food markets,
Asian traditional medicines and international pet markets.
Trade rules were also strengthened for a number of medicinal plants,
including hoodia, used in diet pills; the desert-living cistanche,
a natural tonic; and the Chinese yew tree, which boasts cancer-fighting
Decisions that will promote the practical implementation of the
Convention were taken on economic incentives, guidelines for sustainable
use, synergies with the Convention on Biological Diversity, the
rules for personal and household effects, the budget and related
issues. Still other decisions seek to strengthen the conservation
of threatened or endangered species already controlled by CITES,
including the Saiga antelope, sharks, and the hawksbill turtle.
On the sidelines of the meeting, the Secretariat announced the
2004 quotas for caviar exports from the Caspian Sea. The five Caspian
Sea states agreed to take stronger action on sturgeon conservation
and illegal trade and harvesting.
The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention
was held from 3 - 14 October. It was attended by some 1,200 participants
from 154 governments and numerous observer organizations. COP 14
will be held in 2007 in The Netherlands.
Note to journalists: For more information please call the
CITES press team today in Bangkok at +66 2 229 3041 or +66 4 098
7621, or after the conference at +41 79 409 1528 or +41 79 378 6540.
The email contacts are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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