For use of the media
not an official document.
Wildlife experts meet
in Geneva to discuss the future
of the South American cedar, mahogany, sharks,
sturgeons and other species
Geneva, 14 Aprill 2008 – Scientists from all over the
world are meeting in Geneva from 15 to 24 April for the 17th meeting
of the Plants Committee and 23rd meeting of the Animals Committee
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Around 300 delegates are expected
to attend, including observers from Parties, intergovernmental
bodies and non-governmental organizations.
These Committees provide the technical and scientific basis
for the implementation of the Convention. “The Animals and
Plants Committees play a vital role in ensuring that CITES decision-making
has a sound scientific basis”, said CITES Secretary-General
Willem Wijnstekers. “Their high level of expertise and objectivity
are features we should take care to maintain”, he added.
At the meetings, these Committees will consider issues regarding
a wide range of animals and plants species that are traded amongst
other things as food products, traditional medicines, timber,
perfumes, tourist souvenirs or pets in the international market.
The Plants Committee will be reviewing and discussing progress
on action plans for the conservation and sustainable use of CITES-listed
timber species such as the bigleaf mahogany, South American cedar
and rosewood. CITES’ engagement with timber species has
increased in recent years. The Committee will also be informed
about progress made by CITES and the International Tropical Timber
Organization (ITTO) in the implementation of a joint project on
timber species. Representatives of ITTO and of the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will participate in the
Additionally the Plants Committee will be drafting guidelines
to help exporting countries determine the sustainability of exports
of timber and medicinal products. Additionally it will consider
and advise on which tree species and which timber products should
be controlled under the convention.
In the meeting of the Animals Committee, discussions on the
sustainability of international trade in sharks and sturgeons
are likely to dominate. The Committee will examine reports on
efforts to improve monitoring of the catch of and trade in sharks
and to implement the FAO International Plan of Action-Sharks.
The Committee will also be reviewing key shark species and examining
these for possible listing under CITES.
Sturgeons and paddlefish are a group of freshwater fish in high
demand. Their eggs (sold as caviar) are one of the most valuable
wildlife products in trade. Concerns over over-harvesting of these
species led to their inclusion in the CITES Appendices in the
late 1990s. Since then, international trade in all products from
sturgeon and paddlefish has been strictly regulated. However,
there is concern that illegal fishing and trade continue to be
a threat to the survival of these fish. The Animals Committee
will start evaluating the assessment and the monitoring methodologies
used for stocks shared by several countries, such as those of
the Caspian Sea.
Various species of Mantella frog from Madagascar, which are
in demand as pets, will receive close scientific scrutiny, as
part of the Review of Significant Trade. The status and trade
levels of several other species, mainly birds, reptiles and molluscs,
will also be discussed as part of this review.
Other items on the agenda will include the Committee’s
contribution to a review of the trade in small crocodilian leather
goods and effectiveness of the universal tagging system thereof;
enhancing cooperation with advisory bodies of other biodiversity-related
multilateral environmental agreements; and progress with the implementation
of CITES worldwide.
Both committees will be examining recent recorded trade in CITES-listed
species to identify those that may be being traded at unsustainable
levels. This ‘Review of Significant Trade’ is a key
peer review and compliance mechanism under the Convention.
Note to journalists: For more information, please
contact Juan Carlos Vasquez à +41 22 917 8156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For official documents and other information, see http://www.cites.org/eng/com/ac/index.shtml
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