of the media only;
not an official document.
Wildlife experts meet
in Geneva to discuss the future of the queen conch,
turtles, seahorses and other animals
Geneva, 15 August 2003 – Eminent scientists representing
all the regions of the world, as well as leading scientific institutions
and specialized NGOs are meeting in Geneva from 18 to 21 August
for the 19th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
The Committee will consider how best to regulate global trade
in a wide range of animals, including the queen conch, Asian turtles,
seahorses, the Tibetan antelope and sharks. These species are
traded as food products, traditional medicines, tourist souvenirs
or pets in the local and international markets.
The queen conch, a large Caribbean mollusc, is one of the most
important fishery resources in that region, as its meat is in
great demand. The wholesale value of the annual landings has been
estimated at USD 60 million. The shells are also used and traded
as curios and tourist souvenirs, but are largely considered a
by-product of the meat trade.
The Committee will also consider the status of Asian turtles,
which are traded in significant numbers for regional food markets,
Asian traditional medicines and international pet markets. There
is extensive evidence of illegal trade, but turtles are also harvested
for subsistence consumption and bred in captivity in large numbers,
making trade controls difficult. Habitat loss is another major
threat to their survival.
The trade in seahorses will also now become regulated under CITES.
Seahorse populations seem to have declined in recent years owing
to commercial trade, by-catch in fisheries, coastal development,
destructive fishing practices and pollution. To meet the growing
demand for traditional medicines, aquarium specimens, souvenirs
and curios, at least 20 million seahorses are estimated to be
A number of species in Madagascar – one of the world’s
richest ecosystems – will receive close scientific scrutiny,
particularly the flat-tailed tortoise, various chameleons, and
a burrowing frog.
The Committee will also look at shark species and discuss the
collaboration between CITES and the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations (FAO) for the management of these species,
which are heavily hunted for their meat and fins. In this respect,
it is worth noting that the trade in two giants species of sharks,
the whale shark and the basking shark, has recently become regulated
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