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CITES conference ends without new sharks in its net
29/ 03/ 2010

CITES conference ends without new sharks in its netAn intense two-week meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) closed on 25 March without agreeing on new trade measures to protect marine species.

24 proposals accepted, 10 rejected and 7 withdrawn. Next meeting to be held in Bangkok in 2013

Doha, 25 March 2010 - An intense two-week meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) closed here today without agreeing on new trade measures to protect marine species. Over 150 Governments voting at the meeting adopted, however, decisions to strengthen wildlife management for several reptiles, combat illegal trafficking in tigers and rhinos and update the trade rules for a wide range of plant and animal species.

"The Doha conference is an important step in the long journey for the conservation of commercial marine species. The quality of the debate and the simple majority reached by three sharks and the red and pink coral proposals sends a strong signal to the international community on the urgent need to stop overexploitation. The results do not reflect well the real impact of this meeting, which will be only seen and understood when other international regimes discuss the fate of bluefin tuna and sharks in the coming months," said Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers of CITES, whose secretariat is administered by the UN Environment Programme.

"CITES will be closely watching the progress made on the adoption of conservation measures to protect marine species in other fora. To say that the Conference was a disaster is simply an exaggeration. I am convinced that governments, NGOs and businesses have learnt a good lesson: the solutions to conserve the earth's rich heritage of biological diversity cannot be incompatible with the sustainable development of local communities and national economies," he said.

Four proposals to include sharks in CITES Appendix II were rejected. The scalloped hammerhead, Oceanic whitetip, porbeagle and spiny dogfish - four fish species of great commercial value - were not added to CITES and can therefore continue to be traded without CITES permits.

"In recent years CITES has started to list commercially valuable fish species such as sturgeon, seahorses, and the basking and whale sharks. The rejection of more listings this week reflects a transitional process to adjust existing regimes managing depleted fishery stocks towards something more robust and coherent," said Mr. Wijnstekers.

CITES trade controls would enter into force in 90 days for The holywood (Bulnesia sarmientoi), Brazilian rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora), several plants from Madagascar, some lizards and frogs from Central America, a salamander from Iran and other animals and plants.

Last week the polar bear proposal was rejected by a majority of Governments, led by Canada. They recognized insufficient scientific evidence to support an Appendix I listing and the role of polar bears in the culture and economy of indigenous people living in the harsh conditions of the Arctic sea.

The African elephant was the subject of extensive debate. Requests by Tanzania and Zambia for downlisting their elephants populations to the Appendix II were also rejected. A Kenyan proposal for a 20-year moratorium was withdrawn.

The Mexican population of Crocodylus moreletti was transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II with a zero quota for wild specimens. The Egyptian population of the Nile crocodile was similarly downlisted.

Decisions that will promote the practical implementation of the Convention were taken on synergies with other Biodiversity-related Conventions, livelihoods of the rural poor, effective wildlife trade policies and a 6% increase in the core budget.

The 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention was held from 13 - 25 March. It was attended by some 1,200 participants from 150 governments and numerous observer organizations. COP 16 will be held in 2013 in Thailand.

Note to journalists:

All the results on the 42 proposals are attached here. For more information, contact Juan Carlos Vasquez at +974-4175621 or +974-5692804 (cell), or juan.vasquez@cites.org

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International Year of Biodiversity 2010