International wildlife trade meeting gets underway in Qatar
This Saturday, countries from all around the world will gather to hold discussions on the international trade of endangered species. The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will be considering proposals for a number of species including elephants, polar bears, sharks and tuna.
This year’s conference has a distinctly marine theme, with four proposals for the regulation of trade in sharks covering eight species. This includes the oceanic whitetip shark, the spiny dogfish, the porbeagle, the scalloped hammerhead, the great hammerhead, the smooth hammerhead, the dusky shark and the sandbar shark. All of these species have declined worldwide due to overexploitation by fisheries and are therefore proposed for inclusion in the CITES Appendices.
“Shark species are under pressure worldwide driven by the unsustainable practice of fishing for their fins and other products” said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International. “Listing under the CITES Appendices would allow for the regulation of this trade at sustainable levels and protect the future of these species”, said Ms Wellbelove.
Proposals to list the polar bear and Atlantic bluefin tuna under Appendix I of CITES, the highest level of protection possible under the Convention, will also be considered at this meeting. “We hope that all parties and particularly Australia will take the opportunity to support these proposals so that they can be agreed at this meeting”.
There are also two conflicting proposals on African elephants and ivory. One proposed by Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Rwanda and Sierra Leone to extend out to twenty years the nine-year moratorium on proposals to trade ivory that was agreed in 2007. Meanwhile, against the spirit of the moratorium, Tanzania and Zambia are asking permission to downgrade their elephant populations to Appendix II and sell thousands of kilos of stockpiled ivory.
HSI will join a strong team of campaigners in The Hague from the Species Survival Network (SSN), a coalition of over 80 national and international conservation groups that work together to secure CITES protection for species threatened by wildlife trade.