Geneva, 8 December 2023 — Amphibians are thought to be the most threatened class of vertebrates globally, with millions of specimens traded internationally every year for a variety of reasons, ranging from pets to food to specimens for biological research. According to a recent Global Amphibian Assessment undertaken by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), nearly 41% of all known amphibian species are threatened with extinction due to factors such as habitat loss and degradation, the effects of climate change and disease. It is therefore essential that international trade in amphibians remains sustainable and compatible with their conservation in the wild.
On 27-28 November 2023 and on 30 November-1 December 2023, more than 140 experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from 39 countries came together in four online sessions with a common purpose: the conservation and sustainable management of amphibians in the face of evolving challenges, including those relating to international trade.
The Online Workshop on Conservation of Amphibians was convened by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in accordance with Decision 19.197 on Conservation of amphibians (Amphibia spp.), adopted at the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP19) in Panama City in 2022. It provided participants with an opportunity to identify amphibian species in international trade and to share existing national legislation relevant to such trade. Participants were also asked to evaluate whether current levels of trade in amphibians are compatible with their conservation in the wild, and to consider ways of improving data collection regarding harvesting levels of amphibians subject to high volumes of international trade.
The emerging threat of amphibian diseases was also discussed, including chytrid fungus and ranaviruses, as well as the role trade plays in the spread of these diseases to traded and wild amphibians. Participants examined current enforcement efforts to deter and detect illegal and unreported trade and identified additional actions needed.
In her opening remarks, CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero stated that: “Amphibians, with their unique ecological roles and remarkable diversity, play a crucial part in maintaining the delicate balance of our ecosystems. The threats they encounter, ranging from habitat loss to the threat from diseases such as chytrid fungus and ranavirus, to the potential impacts of international trade, necessitate our collective focus and collaboration.”
All relevant documents from the workshop are currently available online. The findings and draft recommendations from the workshop will be submitted to the next meeting of the Animals Committee in July 2024 for its consideration.
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The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed on 3 March 1973 and entered into force on 1 July 1975. With 184 Parties (183 countries + the European Union), it remains one of the world's most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of international trade in over 40,900 species of wild animals and plants. CITES-listed species are used by people around the world in their daily lives for food, health care, furniture, housing, tourist souvenirs, cosmetics or fashion. CITES seeks to ensure that international trade in such species is sustainable, legal and traceable and contributes to both the livelihoods of the communities that live closest to them and to national economies for a healthy planet and the prosperity of the people in support of UN Sustainable Development Goals.
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