Oceana welcomes CITES call for protection of marine species

CITES Secretariat joins international consensus on the need for a bluefin tuna international trade ban

Press Release Date: February 8, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Today in Geneva, bluefin tuna, sharks and corals took one large step closer to winning protection. In an important and noteworthy announcement, the Secretariat of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, recommended the adoption of proposals to list North Atlantic bluefin tuna, various sharks, and red and pink corals to the Appendices of the convention. Oceana, the international marine conservation organization, welcomes the support by CITES and notes the growing evidence and support to control the international trade of these marine species.

“While there is mounting scientific backing of these proposals, some key players are placing obstacles in the way of these marine species. The European Union, a top exporter of bluefin tuna, shark fins and some corals, are taking months to debate their position on these proposals,” notes Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe. He continues, “And Japan, the main importer and consumer of marine products in the world and a powerful fishing nation, has opposed every single proposal to list marine species on the CITES appendices.”

From 13-25 March, 175 countries will come together in Doha, Qatar, to determine the fate of bluefin tuna, the 31 species of red and pink corals, and eight species of sharks (porbeagle, spurdog, oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerheads, great hammerheads, smooth hammerheads, dusky sharks and sandbar sharks). These species are all threatened from high levels of international trade and scientific studies have shown that they have experienced declines in recent decades that warrant their protection. CITES would serve to prevent these species from going extinct due to trade. For the sharks and corals, this means strict regulation of their trade. For bluefin tuna, an emblematic species that has lost over 85% of its population, all international trade would be prohibited.

“That the CITES Secretariat has recommended the adoption of all of these species is a call to action for the parties to this Convention. Japan is indeed one of the main obstacles to the future of these species in our oceans. We urge the European Union to assume its responsibilities by immediately backing the adoption of these proposals to include marine species on CITES” declared Pastor.

Oceana letter to CITES delegates

Note to the editors

  • Aquatic commercial species are little represented in CITES due to their high market value and the opposition of fishing nations to consider them as endangered fauna.
  • According to ICCAT scientists, the North Atlantic bluefin tuna spawning stock has declined to levels below 15% of the original population. Most of the Atlantic bluefin tuna catches are traded internationally, with the greatest part being imported by Japan. An Appendix I listing would eventually ban all international trade of this species.
  • The EU is currently negotiating a common position on the proposal to listing endangered bluefin tuna on CITES Appendix 1. The European Union holds the greatest catch quota for the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stock. The UK, France, FAO and the Environment Committee of the European Parliament support this measure.
  • All eight of these shark species currently proposed are under pressure because of the increased global trade of shark products, particularly fins.A CITES Appendix II listing of threatened sharks would imply strong restrictions on international trade, maintaining it at sustainable levels and requiring export permits. These measures would guarantee that the trade is non detrimental for the survival of the species.
  • 31 red and pink coral species have been proposed for inclusion on CITES Appendix II. These species are intensively exploited and traded to elaborate jewellery products. Corals play a key role in marine habitats, and in addition to suffering from overexploitation, they are threatened by the impacts of climate change.
  • The CITES Secretariat assessment as well as other relevant information on CITES could be found at http://www.cites.org/eng/cop/15/doc/index.shtml