European Parliament Intergroup Meeting on CITES

The European Parliament (EP) hosted on 27th January 2010 a meeting on CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in preparation of the CITES COP15 in Doha. The prestigious panel presented to 50 odd Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), assistants and representatives of various organisations their views on this International Convention. It enabled discussion to continue within the EP on several critical issues such as elephants, polar bears, and marine species, with a view to better preparing the EP Resolution, to be voted in Plenary next week, and the CITES COP15 in Doha in March. The event was chaired by MEP Sturdy, MEP Gutierrez-Cortines, MEP Skylakakis and MEP Franco.

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Dr. Susan A. Mainka from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) presented the key role played by IUCN and TRAFFIC – a joint program of IUCN and WWF – in providing technical support to the CITES Parties through carrying out analyses. The aim is to ensure that listing decisions proposals are based on the best available science. Dr Mainka also noted the difficult issues of “introduction from the sea” that need to be agreed before effective implementation can be achieved for any marine fish proposals to be adopted. Furthermore, she underscored that CITES is both a conservation and a trade treaty.

Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism; Ms Amalie Jessen, Deputy Minister, Government of Greenland, and Mr Duane Smith, President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), explained how elephants and polar bears are symbols of their respective countries, and that wildlife management systems are in place. In both cases, it seems that conservation efforts are mainly ensured by the sustainable use of wild fauna. Examples show that the prohibition of international trade in valuable wildlife resources whose survival is not threatened by such trade could be detrimental to the species’ own survival. The reason behind this is that the conservation of a species – in particular those which can give rise to animal-human conflicts, such as crop damage, injury or even loss of human life – cannot be effective if the support of local people is not guaranteed. On the other hand, in areas where emblematic wild species have true monetary value they are managed and protected against poaching, mostly with the active collaboration of local stakeholders. These relations are also recognized by the Parties to CITES, having stressed in various Resolutions the needs to respect and engage local people in conservation.

Mr Mark Dickey-Collas, Core Member of the FAO Expert Advisory Panel for commercially exploited aquatic species stated that recommendations given by the panel are based on the assessment of the state of the global populations and not just local populations. The following recommendations for the forthcoming CITES COP15 have been given: listing in Appendix II for the porbeagle shark and the oceanic whitetip shark, not listing in Appendix II for certain species of red coral. With regard to one of the most sensitive issues: the up listing of bluefin tuna, he pointed out that there was a unanimous agreement to list it in Appendix II but not in Appendix I.

Mr Hugo-Maria Schally, Head of Unit in DG ENV (European Commission) explained that unlike the EU, the 27 EU Member States are members of CITES. Their votes follow what the European Commission proposes and the Council approves. He insisted on the fact that decision, which will be made by the new Commission, will be based on science and not emotions. He stated that available information on bluefin tuna tends to go towards the up listing in Appendix I. He added that there is little chance to see the EU support the resumption of the ivory trade. As far as polar bears are concerned, we have to see whether international trade endangers the species and whether the up listing in Appendix I will have positive results on their conservation, Mr Schally said.

The meeting was jointly organised by the Intergroups “Sustainable Hunting, Biodiversity, Countryside Activities and Forestry” and ”Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”.

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