This month at the World's Wildlife Conference in Bangkok,
parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ("CITES") voted to
increase trade protections for several threatened species.
Approximately 5000 animal and 29,000 plant species receive some
protection from CITES, although it struggles to combat illegal
trade, and especially the burgeoning demand from China.
The CITES is a voluntary international agreement between
governments. Its goal is to ensuring that international trade
in wild animals and plants is sustainable, and does not pose a risk
to the species. CITES decisions are, however, often highly
political instead of scientific, which is why Japan gets away with
continuing to slaughter whales.
Parties to CITES agree to permit trade (import, export,
re-export) in species set out in 3 appendices only in accordance with the
species threatened with extinction that are or may be affected by
trade; trade in these species is strictly regulated and only
authorized in exceptional circumstances
includes (a) species that may not currently be threatened with
extinction but may become threatened if trade in them is not
strictly regulated; it also includes (b)other species that must be
regulated so that trade in species referred to in (a) may be
effectively controlled. (This is by far the largest category, with
nearly 34,000 species)
includes species identified by any party to CITES as subject to
regulation within that party's jurisdiction, and needing
cooperation of other parties in control of trade.
The most restrictive trade requirements are for species included
in Appendix I. For a species specimen to be exported, an
export permit is required; as a prerequisite for such a permit
being granted, the proponent must provide evidence that shows that
the export will not harm survival of the species; that the specimen
was obtained legally; that it will be handled to minimize risk of
harm and cruel treatment; and that an import permit has been
granted. Similar restrictions apply for import permits for
these species. Export of Appendix II species also requires a
permit (plus evidence as per Appendix I requirements), but import
permits are not required.
Highlights from the Bangkok meeting include the addition of 343
new species to Appendix II. Details about the major decisions
are summarized (by Latin names only). Of particular note:
A crackdown on
fishing of 5 shark species* hunted commercially for their fins (and
sometimes meat): oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus
longimanus), porbeagle (Lamna nasus) and 3 species of
hammerhead – scalloped, great and smooth (Sphyrna
spp). They will be protected under Appendix II of CITES;
permits will be required.
(Manta spp) will now be protected (Appendix II
CITES*). Hunted for their gill plates, these animals have
very low reproductive rates, grow slowly and are migratory, with
small and fragmented populations.
Rules for trading
in elephants or elephant products were revised and actions targeted
on the 30 most affected countries.
agreed to develop strategies that enhance awareness of the impacts
of illicit trafficking in rhinoceros.
Due to concerns of
depletion due to unregulated logging, trade in rosewoods and
ebonies (tropical hardwoods) will now be regulated by the
*Inclusion of the shark and manta species in CITES Appendix II
will not be immediate; this will be delayed 18 months so that
parties can resolve technical and administrative issues.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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