Geneva, 19 December 2001
Relationship between ex situ production and in situ conservation
1. Decision 11.102 directs the Animals Committee, regarding operations that breed Appendix-I animal species for commercial purposes, to "examine the complex issues related to the origin of founder breeding stock and the relationship between ex situ breeding operations and in situ conservation of the species and, in collaboration with interested organizations, identify possible strategies and other mechanisms by which registered ex situ breeding operations may contribute to enhancing the recovery and/or conservation of the species within the countries of origin, and report its findings at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties".
2. The Secretariat has been aware of a range of critical views or contradictory perspectives on this issue. Such opinions may derive from situations that do not characterize most ex situ production systems (i.e. captive breeding operations, artificial propagation operations) even though ex situ breeding operations need not be synonymous with conservation programmes. Examples of such views are that:
i) establishing ex situ production systems may have unintended consequences such as the risk of creating disincentives for habitat protection and in situ conservation, for example by requiring less strict controls over trade in specimens from captive breeding than from other production systems (and thus making it easier and cheaper to produce specimens for trade through captive breeding than maintaining wild populations and their habitat for a controlled offtake);
ii) ex situ production for commercial trade may result in a shift in production and trade from range States to non-range countries to the possible detriment of in situ conservation and/or socio-economic development in range States. This raises the question of ownership of genetic resources (i.e. the extent to which the countries of origin should benefit from trade in CITES-listed species) and whether CITES can contribute to the handling of this issue in the forum of the Convention on Biological Diversity;
iii) it may be wrongly assumed that ex situ production systems such as captive-breeding operations, in the general understanding of the term, have no negative conservation impacts (and even worse, the assumption that captive-breeding operations by definition contribute to the conservation of species in the wild), when indeed captive-breeding operations may have considerable negative impacts, e.g. captive-breeding operations for Appendix-I animal species that do not meet the criteria for registration;
iv) there is a continuing use of ex situ production systems to launder unauthorized wild-harvested or illegally traded specimens; and
v) the vulnerability of some communities to unnecessary trade controls and unpredictable access to consumer markets, as may result from regulatory policies favouring ex situ production systems, appears not to be fully appreciated.
3. At its 16th meeting, the Animals Committee endorsed a proposal from the Secretariat to:
i) request Management Authorities to provide information on the relationship between captive-breeding operations and in situ conservation programmes at national and international levels;
ii) request other appropriate organizations, and in particular the IUCN/SSC Wildlife Trade Programme, the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group and the IUCN/SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group, to inform the Committee on this subject;
iii) establish a project for which external funds should be sought, to research the resource economics (which include the relative socio-economic importance) of trade in specimens from various production systems;
iv) establish a project, for which external funds should be sought, to research the conservation impact of various production systems, focused on a number of target species; and
v) explore potential cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity on this subject.
4. Aspects of the potential impact of ex-situ production systems on wild populations, in the context of making non-detriment findings for specimens of Appendix-II species, and developing a classification system for the various production systems involving CITES-listed species were discussed by the Animals and Plants Committees at their latest meetings. Consensus was reached in both Committees that neither the relationships between wild populations and an increasingly complex range of ex situ production systems, nor the potential impacts of those systems on wild populations are fully understood, and that the subject should be investigated further for all CITES-listed animal and plant species.
5. All Parties and organizations are accordingly invited to provide any information that they may already have on the relationship between ex situ production systems and in situ conservation programmes for any CITES-listed species, particularly concerning the issues referred to in paragraph 2, and providing examples where possible.
6. The Secretariat intends to use the information received for the development of further actions outlined in paragraph 3, in consultation with the Animals and Plants Committees. The Secretariat would be grateful if the information requested could be submitted by 31 March 2002.
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