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Exporters to strengthen
controls and promote sustainable fishing
before CITES can publish 2006 export
Geneva, 3 January 2006 – The Secretariat
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has announced today that it is
unable to publish the 2006 export quotas for caviar and other
sturgeon products (except for aquaculture) until exporting countries
provide more information about the sustainability of their sturgeon
169 member countries of CITES have set strict conditions for permitting
caviar exports. Countries sharing sturgeon stocks must agree amongst
themselves on catch and export quotas based on scientific surveys
of the stocks. They must also adopt a regional conservation strategy.
With the agreement of the sturgeon range States, the rules on
how to set quotas were made even more rigorous in 2004.
The information recently provided by the sturgeon-exporting
countries bordering the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea/lower Danube
River, and the Heilongjiang/Amur River on the Sino-Russian border
indicates that many of the sturgeon species in these shared fishing
grounds are suffering serious population declines. The Secretariat
is concerned that the proposed quotas, while lower than for previous
years, may not fully reflect the reductions in stocks or make
sufficient allowance for illegal fishing.
“Countries wishing to export sturgeon products
from shared stocks must demonstrate that their proposed catch
and export quotas reflect current population trends and are sustainable,”
said CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers. “To do
this they must also make full allowance for the amount of fish
caught illegally,” he added.
Although many of the measures adopted by CITES
are aimed at exporting countries, importers such as the European
Union also have important obligations. They must ensure that all
imports are from legal sources, and they must establish registration
systems for their domestic processing and repackaging plants and
rules for the labelling of repackaged caviar. Many key importing
countries have still not put these measures in place.
CITES regime for international trade in caviar and other sturgeon
products is robust and comprehensive. It is strong enough to ensure
that the trade in sturgeon products is sustainable – but
only if its rules are fully applied. Governments need to fully
implement the measures that they have agreed to ensure that the
exploitation of sturgeon stocks is commercially and environmentally
sustainable over the long term,” said Mr Wijnstekers.
The CITES Secretariat remains hopeful that the
exporting countries will supply the missing data that may allow
international trade to resume. However, since the CITES system
only allows sturgeon products to be exported during the year in
which they are harvested and processed, it is currently not possible
to export caviar and other sturgeon products from shared stocks.
As caviar stocks continued to decline through the
1990s, the Parties to CITES decided to place all sturgeon species
that remained unlisted on its Appendix II, effective from 1 April
1998. Since then, all exports of caviar and other sturgeon products
have had to comply with strict CITES provisions, including the
use of permits and specific labelling requirements. To have its
proposed quota published, a government must show that trade is
not detrimental to the long-term survival of the species.
In 2001, CITES responded to high levels of poaching and illegal
trade in the Caspian Sea – which accounts for some 90% of
world caviar trade– by agreeing a temporary ban. Extensive
discussions and stronger actions by the range states were required
before the annual quotas could be agreed for 2002 to 2005.
Eager to ensure the long-term health of the sturgeon fisheries,
many range states are establishing artificial hatcheries and taking
measures to tackle illegal fishing. Because caviar is also a popular
local delicacy in many of these countries, they must also focus
on strengthening their controls over domestic trade in sturgeon.
For more information: Contact Juan-Carlos Vasquez
at +41-22-917-8156/28 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Michael Williams
at +41-79-409-1528 (cell), +41-22-917-8242 (office) or email@example.com.
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