For use of the media only;
not an official document.
Geneva, 5 March 2004
Trade in live dolphins
The Secretariat has been made aware of serious concerns regarding
a number of recent cases of trade in live dolphins. Unfortunately,
certain of the statements made in the media and in correspondence
to the Secretariat contain allegations and interpretations of the
Convention that are clearly inaccurate and sometimes misleading.
Trade in dolphins of species included in Appendix I of the Convention
is not allowed when: the import is for primarily commercial purposes
or for purposes which are considered detrimental to the survival
of the species; the export is considered to be detrimental to the
survival of the species; the specimens have been obtained illegally;
or the proposed recipient is not suitably equipped to house and
care for the animals. The Convention describes the responsibilities
of both the Management and Scientific Authorities for these issues
in the country of export and in the country of import. Several organizations
have recently written about trade in dolphins of an Appendix-I species
that took place in 1999 between Thailand and Singapore. The Secretariat
has contacted the Management Authorities of the countries concerned
with a request for detailed information. Until it receives replies,
it is inappropriate for the Secretariat to comment further.
Trade in bottlenose dolphins and animals of other species listed
in Appendix II to the Convention is allowed under certain conditions:
the export must not be detrimental to the survival of the species
and the animals must have been legally obtained and exported. Shipments
must also be in accordance with the IATA Live Animal Regulations.
The Convention contains no specifications with regard to the use
and housing of the animals in the importing country, which is -
unlike for Appendix-I species - not required to issue an import
The Secretariat continues to investigate trade in live bottlenose
dolphins between the Solomon Islands and Mexico (see the previous
statement from the Secretariat in that regard).
Trade in live bottlenose dolphins from Guinea-Bissau has also been
reported but the Secretariat has been further advised that the species
is totally protected under national legislation and that these reports
on trade are unfounded.
The Secretariat is aware of proposed trade in live bottlenose dolphins
from Guyana and is reviewing supporting documentation provided by
The CITES Secretary-General, Willem Wijnstekers, said:
"I recognize that many people are against trade in live
animals and particularly against trade in live marine mammals
for a variety of reasons. That is one reason why we are particularly
alert to possible cases of illegal trade and (also for Appendix
II species) follow up allegations. One should realize, however,
that when trade is legal, the decision on whether it takes place
is not taken by the CITES Secretariat. It is therefore not very
useful to lobby the Secretariat or to inundate my staff or myself
with standard-type emails. In fact this is counter-productive.
I only have a small team of people and email or other campaigns
hamper our efforts to investigate information on alleged illegal
trade in wildlife seriously. It is sufficient to be informed once
about each case. Equally counter-productive is the time we are
required to spend on correcting misinformation and wrong statements
about what is or not permitted under CITES. We have a very informative
website which also provides us with a means to disseminate information
quickly and widely. We will of course be as responsive as we can
to queries from the public and the media, but our communication
on issues that generate significant interest is managed through
the website rather than through separate replies to individuals.
I am sure people will understand this."