End of the CITES Conference: major decision for marine life protection

15 March 2013

The triennial Conference of CITES closed yesterday in Bangkok with 55 proposals accepted, 9 rejected and 6 withdrawn.

170 governments have turned to CITES to ensure the legal, sustainable and traceable trade in their precious timber and forest products, with the Conference unanimously bringing hundreds of new timber species under CITES controls, along with a number of tortoises and turtles and a wide range of other plant and animal species. Five shark species and manta rays were also brought under CITES controls following a vote.

The Parties confirmed a decision made by one of the Conference’s Committees earlier in the week to include five commercially valuable shark species in Appendix II. The oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus), scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrma lewini), great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zigaena) and the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) are harvested in huge numbers for their valuable fins and, in some cases, meat. From now onwards, they will have to be traded with CITES permits and evidence will have to be provided that they are harvested sustainably and legally. These listings mark a milestone in the involvement of CITES in marine species.

Ireland, on behalf of the European Union Member States and Croatia, presented the proposal and announced an implementation package of EUR 1.2 million to assist developing countries in the implementation of the listing of the porbeagle shark and other marine species.

The Conference decided to establish Wildlife Incident Support Teams (WISTs) consisting of enforcement staff or relevant experts, to be dispatched at the request of a country affected by a significant poaching incident related to illegal trade or that has made a large-scale seizure of CITES listed specimens, to assist and guide appropriate follow-up actions in the affected or intercepting country, in the immediate aftermath of such an incident.

The members States declared the 3rd of March as the World Wildlife Day and accepted South Africa’s invitation to host the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to be held in 2016.