CITES Secretary-General's statement for World Oceans Day 2017

Updated on 25 September 2017


‘Our Oceans, Our Future’

Statement by John Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General


CITES is globally associated with elephants, tigers and rhinos – but CITES also has a long history of regulating international trade in many marine species to help ensure their survival in the wild, including clams, corals, dolphins, marine turtles, sea horses, the queen conch and whales.

Over recent years, we have seen the Convention being used to regulate international trade in commercially harvested sharks and rays, including hammerhead, porbeagle and oceanic whitetip sharks, and the amazing devil and manta rays.

In doing so, the 183 Parties to CITES, namely 182 countries and the European Union, have increasingly turned to CITES to help ensure sustainability in our Oceans, and in doing so support the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.

We are working with our colleagues in the fisheries sector to make sure CITES-listed marine species are not over exploited through international trade, and with our colleagues in the enforcement sector to fight illegal trade in these species.

This collective effort involves governments, the United Nations, international organizations, the private sector, local communities, non-government organizations, public figures and philanthropists.

Our Oceans and the marine life they support are critical to our own survival. Yet the health of our oceans faces multiple threats. We, here at CITES, will work tirelessly to ensure international trade in CITES-listed marine species is sustainable and to address illegal, unsustainable, and unreported trade.

On Oceans Day this year we are celebrating ‘our oceans, our future’. It reminds us that while we all have a different role to play, we are all striving to achieve the same objective of a healthier ocean – where marine animal and plant species can survive in the wild and be sustainably used by people, such as for food, tourism or recreation.

This week CITES staff are spread from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean as we support the UN Oceans Conference in New York, and join a culturally significant ceremony in Nadi, where seized tabua, the polished tooth of a sperm whale, is being repatriated from New Zealand to Fiji.

Achieving a healthier ocean and a better future demands a collective effort and you can certainly count us in!

Happy Oceans Day from all of us here at CITES.