International wildlife trade conference gets underway in The Netherlands
The 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) starts this week on 3rd June. 171 nations will be meeting in The Netherlands to judge the fate of threatened species including elephants, sharks, gazelles and various other species of reptile, fish and plants. Several controversial proposals are on the agenda, with African countries in a tussle over the trade in ivory, and the protection of whales and dolphins at risk of being weakened.
“This is the world’s largest international wildlife trade meeting,” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director. “Many species around the world are threatened by legal and illegal trade. CITES provides the strongest international agreement to limit this trade, thereby ensuring their survival.”
In addition to the debate over the trade in elephant ivory, and the proposal to review the protection of all the great whales, the regulation of the trade of an unprecedented number of sharks is proposed at this weeks’ meeting. The entire family of sawfish, comprising 7 species, is proposed for listing under Appendix I of CITES, the highest level of protection possible under the Convention. Highly prized for the aquarium trade and for their fins, meat and teeth, sawfish populations have been decimated by over-harvest. If successful, this will be the first listing of any shark species in Appendix I. A further two species of shark, spiny dogfish and porbeagle, both over-exploited by fisheries worldwide, are proposed for inclusion in CITES Appendices.
“With three shark proposals on the agenda, this is an ideal opportunity for Australia to cement its reputation as a strong advocate of shark conservation issues,” said Mr Kennedy. “Poorly regulated international trade in shark meat and products has seen a decline in shark populations worldwide. Finally we are seeing a concerted effort to increase the protection of these species, and we hope this will be agreed upon at the Conference.”
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.