For use of the media only;
not an official document.
Wildlife experts meet in Geneva to discuss the future
of the South American cedar, mahogany, sharks,
sturgeons and other species
Geneva, 14 Aprill 2008 – Scientists from all over the world are meeting in Geneva from 15 to 24 April for the 17th meeting of the Plants Committee and 23rd meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Around 300 delegates are expected to attend, including observers from Parties, intergovernmental bodies and non-governmental organizations.
These Committees provide the technical and scientific basis for the implementation of the Convention. “The Animals and Plants Committees play a vital role in ensuring that CITES decision-making has a sound scientific basis”, said CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers. “Their high level of expertise and objectivity are features we should take care to maintain”, he added. At the meetings, these Committees will consider issues regarding a wide range of animals and plants species that are traded amongst other things as food products, traditional medicines, timber, perfumes, tourist souvenirs or pets in the international market.
The Plants Committee will be reviewing and discussing progress on action plans for the conservation and sustainable use of CITES-listed timber species such as the bigleaf mahogany, South American cedar and rosewood. CITES’ engagement with timber species has increased in recent years. The Committee will also be informed about progress made by CITES and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in the implementation of a joint project on timber species. Representatives of ITTO and of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will participate in the discussions.
Additionally the Plants Committee will be drafting guidelines to help exporting countries determine the sustainability of exports of timber and medicinal products. Additionally it will consider and advise on which tree species and which timber products should be controlled under the convention.
In the meeting of the Animals Committee, discussions on the sustainability of international trade in sharks and sturgeons are likely to dominate. The Committee will examine reports on efforts to improve monitoring of the catch of and trade in sharks and to implement the FAO International Plan of Action-Sharks. The Committee will also be reviewing key shark species and examining these for possible listing under CITES.
Sturgeons and paddlefish are a group of freshwater fish in high demand. Their eggs (sold as caviar) are one of the most valuable wildlife products in trade. Concerns over over-harvesting of these species led to their inclusion in the CITES Appendices in the late 1990s. Since then, international trade in all products from sturgeon and paddlefish has been strictly regulated. However, there is concern that illegal fishing and trade continue to be a threat to the survival of these fish. The Animals Committee will start evaluating the assessment and the monitoring methodologies used for stocks shared by several countries, such as those of the Caspian Sea.
Various species of Mantella frog from Madagascar, which are in demand as pets, will receive close scientific scrutiny, as part of the Review of Significant Trade. The status and trade levels of several other species, mainly birds, reptiles and molluscs, will also be discussed as part of this review.
Other items on the agenda will include the Committee’s contribution to a review of the trade in small crocodilian leather goods and effectiveness of the universal tagging system thereof; enhancing cooperation with advisory bodies of other biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements; and progress with the implementation of CITES worldwide.
Both committees will be examining recent recorded trade in CITES-listed species to identify those that may be being traded at unsustainable levels. This ‘Review of Significant Trade’ is a key peer review and compliance mechanism under the Convention.
Note to journalists: For more information, please contact Juan Carlos Vasquez à +41 22 917 8156 or [email protected] For official documents and other information, see /eng/com/ac/index.shtml or /eng/com/pc/17/index.shtml
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