of the media only;
not an official document.
CITES conference on wildlife
trade to consider
introducing new rules for high-value fish and timber
Bangkok agenda also features
the African elephant, minke whale and
bald eagle, plus turtles, rhinoceroses and medicinal plants
| See also ...
7 September 2004, Bangkok/Geneva – The 166 member governments
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will meet in Bangkok from 2 –
14 October to update the trade rules governing some of the world’s
most charismatic, exploited and economically valuable wildlife species.
The conference will decide on some 50 proposals for improving the
conservation and sustainable use of the African elephant, the minke
whale, the great white shark, the ramin timber tree, the Chinese
yew and other medicinal plants, the yellow-crested cockatoo and
the lilac-crowned parrot, five Asian turtles, the white rhinoceros,
the Nile and American crocodiles, the European date mussel and many
CITES conferences are major environmental events because they produce
enforceable decisions and practical actions for conserving wild
nature and the Earth’s biological diversity,” said Executive
Director Klaus Toepfer of the United Nations Environment Programme,
which administers the CITES Secretariat.
“By promoting the science-based management of wildlife as
a valuable natural resource, CITES also supports the UN’s
Millennium Development goals of halving the number of people living
in extreme poverty and hunger by the year 2015,” he added.
Long known as the forum where critical decisions are taken about
such high-profile issues as the ivory trade and whaling, CITES is
increasingly the focus of efforts to protect fish and timber species
that are traded globally in profitable commodity markets.
“Reversing today’s massive destruction of the world’s
oceans and forests will require governments to use the full range
of policies and tools available to them. It is increasingly recognized
that the CITES system for regulating trade through a system of permits
and quotas is effective and can make an important contribution,”
said CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers.
This year’s most commercially significant proposals include
recommendations to add the humphead wrasse, a large reef fish from
the Indian and Pacific oceans, and the great white shark, perhaps
best known as the star of the “Jaws” film, to an internationally
agreed list of species requiring trade permits. A major step towards
using the CITES trade rules for protecting valuable fish species
was taken in 2002 when the whale shark – the world’s
largest fish – and the basking shark were added to this list.
Similar CITES rules have also been introduced recently to address
the unsustainable global trade in timber and tree products. All
shipments of Latin America’s bigleaf mahogany have required
CITES export permits since November 2003. Now Indonesia is proposing
tighter controls for trade in ramin, one of Southeast Asia’s
highest earning export timbers, and agarwood trees, which contain
the valuable “agar” oil used for making incense, perfumes
Another group of species threatened by traditional and newly emerging
commercial markets are medicinal plants, including southern Africa’s
hoodia and Asia’s Chinese yew and desert-living cistanche;
proposals on the table call for strengthening conservation measures
for all three groups of species. Several proposals also seek to
conserve Asian turtles and tortoises that are being over-exploited
for traditional food markets and the international pet trade.
Still other proposals seek to ease the rules on trade in some of
the large, beautiful and exotic animals that have been icons of
the conservation movement since the 1960s and 1970s. The minke whale
and the African elephant are returning to the CITES agenda, and
rhinoceroses, bald eagles and crocodiles feature as well. The proponents
argue that certain populations of these species have recovered sufficiently
to permit some tightly controlled trade.
Note to journalists: Each proposal is described in more
detail starting on page 6 below. For more information, contact Juan-Carlos
Vasquez at +41-22-917-8156 (office) or firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Michael Williams at +41-79-409-1528 (cell), +41-22-917-8242 (office),
or email@example.com. See also www.cites.org.
previous press releases, go to Archives.