CITES Secretariat assesses proposals for changing wildlife trade rules

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CITES Secretariat assesses proposals for changing wildlife trade rules

Geneva, 29 July 2002 – The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has completed its provisional assessment of the 54 proposals submitted by member countries (Parties) to amend the Convention’s lists of wild plant and animal species that are subject to trade controls or prohibitions.

This provisional assessment is being submitted to the Convention’s 158 Parties, which now have two months to provide their comments together with any relevant scientific data and information. The Parties will then meet in Santiago, Chile, from 3 to 15 November to decide whether to accept, reject or modify each of the proposals. The Parties’ comments together with a definitive set of recommendations from the Secretariat will be important inputs for the meeting.

The CITES lists, known as Appendices I and II, are revised every two-and-a-half years. Appendix I prohibits all commercial trade in some 900 species that are threatened with extinction whilst Appendix II regulates trade in 4,000 animal and 22,000-plus plant species through a system of permits.

Among the more controversial issues this year are Japan’s requests to reopen trade in certain populations of the minke whale and the Bryde’s whale. The Secretariat concludes, among other things, that legal concerns should prevent Governments from agreeing to this request. It notes that catch quotas for whales are set by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, and that all commercial whale hunting is currently forbidden. CITES requires that the level of protection it provides be coordinated with what is afforded to whales under the ICRW.

Another well-known issue relates to the trade in African elephant ivory. Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are proposing to export specific quantities of ivory under controlled conditions. Kenya and India are proposing to transfer all African elephant populations back to Appendix I (thus prohibiting commercial trade). The Secretariat believes it is premature to decide on the merits of these proposals before the African range States hold their planned dialogue meeting and attempt to find common ground before the start of the Santiago meeting.

Cuba has also requested permission to sell hawksbill turtle shells from existing legal stockpiles. Other countries have expressed concerns about this. The Secretariat believes that further detailed discussions are needed before a decision is taken.

Other proposals would list the bigleaf mahogany and two species of toothfish, or Chilean sea bass, on Appendix II for the first time. The Secretariat supports the proposal on mahogany, and it agrees that the toothfish proposals meet the scientific criteria for listing. The implementation of the toothfish proposals will involve the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and would need to be further elaborated at the Santiago meeting. The Secretariat also believes that proposals to permit trade in the wool of additional populations of South American vicuña are well substantiated.

Note to journalists: The complete assessment is posted on the Web at For more information, please contact Marie-France Barreto at +41-22-917-8148 or [email protected]

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