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CITES incentives inspire vital
reforms in wildlife management
Falcons, sturgeon, corals and other at-risk species
15 March 2002 - Trade suspensions and other incentives have succeeded
in spurring the United Arab Emirates, the Russian Federation, Fiji,
Vietnam and other governments to move towards more effective and
sustainable management systems for a number of endangered species
that offer economic benefits to poor communities.
A Standing Committee meeting on the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has
agreed here today to lift or modify imposed trade measures in response
to pledges by governments to reform their wildlife management and
Responding to pledges of reform by the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
government, the CITES Standing Committee has agreed to withdraw
in three phases its earlier recommendation to suspend trade with
the country. First, trade for non-commercial purposes other than
movements of live birds of prey will be permitted immediately. Second,
the prohibition on cross-border movements of live falcons for non-commercial
purposes will be withdrawn when a domestic registry of the birds
and their owners is completed and confirmed by the Secretariat.
Third, commercial trade in CITES wildlife will remain suspended
but will be reconsidered when the Standing Committee meets again
next November and reviews the situation.
"As this week has demonstrated, the CITES regime is effective
because we can create powerful incentives for motivating governments
to follow the rules and cooperate with one another," said Kenneth
Stansell, Chairman of the Standing Committee. "CITES is an
invaluable instrument for promoting the conservation and sustainable
management of wild plants and animals."
Another example of how effective trade restrictions can be was
seen last week, when the CITES Secretariat approved new quotas for
caviar and sturgeon meat exports from the Caspian Sea. However,
while recognizing that the five Caspian States had met the requirements
for continuing the caviar trade by establishing the first-ever unified
system for surveying and managing sturgeon stocks, the Secretariat
also pointed out that illegal harvesting and unregulated domestic
consumption continue to threaten the long-term survival of Caspian
Sea sturgeon species.
During the Standing Committee meeting, the Russian Federation
responded to this concern and to a Secretariat report on enforcement
needs by pledging to regulate all stages of caviar production, from
harvesting to packing; to establish quotas for domestic markets;
to require that all caviar containers used in the domestic market
are made domestically in order to demonstrate legal origin; and
to license all domestic sales of caviar.
"These steps are vital to Russia's battle against dealers
in illegal caviar. I welcome the Government's very positive response
to our report's recommendations," said Willem Wijnstekers,
Secretary-General of CITES.
The Committee also considered the case of four other states that
had earlier been given a 31 December 2001 deadline for adopting
national legislation on endangered wildlife trade. Any country failing
to comply would be subject to a complete suspension of all CITES-related
Fiji, a major exporter of coral, missed the deadline and had its
trade suspended. The Committee agreed to lift the suspension, however,
in response to Fiji's pledge to table national CITES legislation
at its next parliamentary session in June 2002 and to have this
legislation enacted before end-2002. Fiji will also set trade quotas
for coral species at 50% of last year's exports.
Fiji will also introduce a plan of action to address the unsustainable
levels of coral harvesting and export. It will not authorize exports
until the 2002 quota is formally put into effect, it will copy all
export permits to the Secretariat, it will ensure that all export
permits are issued only by the authorized national CITES Management
Authority. If Fiji fails to enact effective legislation by 31 December
2002, the Secretariat will notify all Parties that all CITES trade
is once again suspended.
Vietnam, a country rich in wildlife resources, also saw all of its
CITES trade suspended when it missed the end-December 2001 deadline
for enacting legislation. However, the legislation was in force
by mid-February 2002 and the trade suspension has now been lifted.
Turkey adopted adequate legislation and its trade was therefore
not suspended; a key issue for Turkey is the transhipment of illegal
All CITES trade with Yemen, on the other hand, remains suspended
until further notice. CITES will work closely with the government
to help it develop legislation and train enforcement officers.
The 12-15 March Standing Committee also decided to ensure more
transparency in its procedures by permitting the participation in
its deliberations of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The
Standing Committee also discussed preparations for the 12th Meeting
of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, to be held in Santiago,
Chile from 3 -15 November 2002.
Around the world, many species of plants and animals have become
endangered because of habitat destruction, pollution, unsustainable
trade, and other forces. CITES was adopted in 1973 to ensure the
long-term survival of any species that are potentially threatened
by international trade. Its 157 member governments strictly regulate
international trade in threatened wild animals or plants via an
Appendix II listing and prohibit international commercial trade
in species threatened with extinction via inclusion in Appendix
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