Bringing wildlife trade to the table

(lifePR) ( Gland, )
Key decisions on the international trade of bluefin tuna, sharks, polar bears and coral, among many other species, will be decided at the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which takes place from 13 to 25 March 2010, in Doha, Qatar.

"CITES is vital in the fight to ensure that species are not threatened by international trade," says Sue Mainka, Head of IUCN's Science and Learning and Head of IUCN's delegation to CITES. "Through tough laws and regulations, international trade in endangered species can be managed sustainably. Decisions taken at CITES are significant as they not only influence the state of our environment but also our economy and people's livelihoods."

IUCN will attend the meeting and provide scientific and technical information to CITES. This latest conference falls during the International Year of Biodiversity and will contribute significantly to efforts for conserving biodiversity and stopping the current rate of biodiversity loss. CITES came into force in 1975 and there are now 175 parties to the conference.

"Sustainable use of species is the key to maintaining community livelihoods and a strong economy while also ensuring that species are not threatened as a result," says Jane Smart, Director, IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group. "This is particularly significant to remember in 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity."

CITES offers varying degrees of protection to more than 33,000 species of animals and plants in trade, through a system of permits and certificates. Species are included in one of three lists, called Appendices. This year, among other issues, CITES will discuss whether or not to have a ban on international trade in the commercially valuable Bluefin Tuna. The fish is highly prized - one was sold in January 2010 for over $120,000 - but overfishing is threatening the species. Other species to be discussed include the Spiny Dogfish, which appears on fish and chips menus in the UK, and is threatened with over-exploitation. The fate of the Porbeagle shark, again under threat from overfishing, will also be decided at CITES.

"CITES COP15 will address a number of critical issues relating to the international trade of species, but many will focus on marine issues," says Simon Stuart, chair of IUCN's Species Survival Commission. "The number of marine species affected by illegal, unmanaged and unreported fishing, as well as bycatch, is contributing to many species such as sharks and commercial fish becoming threatened."

Regulations to restrict trade in elephants, tigers, crocodiles, antelopes, the African rhino and the polar bear are also on the CITES agenda, as are the Humphead Wrasse, the Hawksbill Turtle and Big-leaf Mahogany.
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