Wildlife trade regulation needed more than ever

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Wildlife trade regulation needed more than ever

CITES celebrates its 35th anniversary of coming into force

CITES: 35 yearsGeneva, 30 June 2010 – From medicine to musical instruments and from fashion and beauty products to delicacies, wildlife items in trade must be properly regulated to ensure the continued survival of animals and plants in the wild.

This is the main message coming from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which celebrates its 35th anniversary on 1 July 2010.

“While not a single one of some 34,000 CITES-listed species has become extinct as a result of international trade until now, growing pressures on biological resources make regulating global wildlife trade even more relevant today than it was in 1975 when countries brought this unprecedented global treaty into force”, said CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon.

Global wildlife trade has increased significantly since 1975. CITES Trade Database, which registers legal trade in wildlife, holds over 10 million records of trade, with an average of 850,000 permits to trade in a CITES-listed species issued annually by the Convention’s member States.

With the forthcoming accession of Bahrain announced today, CITES will have 176 Parties, while it only had 10 Parties 35 years ago, including Switzerland, which hosts the Convention’s Secretariat, and the United States where the text of the Convention was adopted.

“By being a pioneer in adopting trade measures to prevent overexploitation and relying on scientific advice for the authorization of wildlife trade, CITES has put the machinery in place to contribute to the improved management of the key natural assets of our planet”, declared Ambassador Betty E. King, Permanent Representative of the Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva.

“Switzerland is very proud to host a biodiversity-related Convention that is able to deliver concrete conservation results. We hope that the international community will build on its successes for many more years to come to contribute to alleviating poverty and stopping the decline in global biodiversity”, added Mr Thomas Jemmi, Deputy Director General of the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office, the CITES Management Authority of Switzerland.

“This treaty was visionary because it was able to put practical trade rules in place for the use of terrestrial and marine species, before the global boom created by the liberalization of trade and the acceleration of transactions via Internet. CITES is thus part of the  transition to a resource efficient 21st century Green Economy”, said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, which administers the CITES Secretariat.

CITES-listed species that are traded in significant volumes include species as diverse as orchids, crocodiles and sea shells. More recently, CITES has been used to address the precarious situation of marine and timber species, such as the great white shark and mahogany.

The Web-based CITES Trade Data Dashboards, unveiled on the occasion of this anniversary, use the trade data from the annual reports of the Parties to provide an instant overview of the magnitude of wildlife trade per country and per species group, such as mammals, birds or fish. For instance, the Dashboard provides a way to see general trends, such as "trade volume over time"; "top 10 trading partners", "top 5 items" and "trade by source (e.g. wild or captive breeding)".

 “The International Year of Biodiversity offers an opportunity to both reflect upon the past successes and mobilize efforts to address current and future challenges. CITES has a proven track record in managing wildlife trade internationally. Its ongoing relevance and ability to adapt to changing circumstances are essential to the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife,” concluded Scanlon.

Note to journalists: Media representatives are invited to an official reception on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the entry into force of CITES. The reception will take place at the Natural History Museum of the City of Geneva on 1 July 2010 from 15h00 to 18h00.


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