PANAMA CITY (AP) — An international conference on wildlife has moved to introduce some of the most important conservation measures for shark species targeted by the fin trade and dozens of turtles, lizards and frogs whose numbers are being decimated by the trade in pets.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known by the initials CITES, ended Friday in Panama. In addition to protections for more than 500 species, delegates at the United Nations wildlife conference rejected a proposal to reopen the ivory trade. An ivory ban was introduced in 1989.
“Good news from CITES is good news for wildlife, as this treaty is one of the pillars of international conservation and is imperative to ensure countries unite in combating the global interconnected crises of wildlife collapse. biodiversity, climate change and pandemics,” said Susan Lieberman, the vice president of the United States. chair of international policy at Wildlife Conservation Society.
“Many of the proposals passed here reflect continued overexploitation and unsustainable trade, and escalating illegal trade, and some are due to complex interactions of other threats that are reducing species populations in the wild, including climate change , disease, infrastructure development and habitat loss,” she added.
The international wildlife trade treaty, adopted 49 years ago in Washington, DC, has been praised for helping to curb the illegal and unsustainable trade in ivory and rhino horns, whales and sea turtles.
But it has come under fire for its limitations, including its reliance on poor developing countries to fight illegal trade that has become a lucrative $10 billion a year business.
One of this year’s biggest achievements was to increase or protect more than 90 shark species, including 54 species of requiem shark, the bonnet shark, three species of hammerhead sharks and 37 species of guitarfish. Many had never had trade protection and now, under Annex II, commercial trade is regulated.
Global shark populations are declining, with the annual death toll from fishing reaching about 100 million. The sharks are especially sought after for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup, a popular delicacy in China and elsewhere in Asia.
“These species are threatened by the unsustainable and unregulated fishing that supplies the international trade for their meat and fins, which has led to extensive population declines,” said Rebecca Regnery, senior director for wildlife at Humane Society International, in a statement. “With Appendix II listing, CITES Parties can allow trade only if it is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild, giving these species the help they need to recover from overexploitation.”
The conference also introduced protections for dozens of species of turtles, lizards and frogs, including glass frogs, whose translucent skin made them a favorite in the pet trade. Several species of songbirds also received trade protection.
“The unmanaged and growing trade in glass frogs, which are already under enormous ecological pressure due to habitat loss, climate change and disease, is exacerbating pre-existing threats to the species,” said Danielle Kessler, the US country director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. in a statement. “This trade needs to be regulated and limited to sustainable levels to avoid exacerbating the many threats they already face.”
But some of the more controversial proposals were not approved.
Some African countries and conservation organizations had hoped to ban the hippopotamus trade. But the European Union, some African countries and various conservation groups opposed it, claiming that many countries have healthy hippopotamus populations and that trade is not a factor in their decline.
“Globally cherished mammals such as rhinoceroses, hippos, elephants and leopards were not given increased protection at this meeting, while a bunch of wonderful madmen achieved conservation victories,” Tanya Sanerib, international legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. . “In the midst of a heartbreaking extinction crisis, we need global agreement to fight for all species, even if it’s contentious.”