CITES Meeting Votes in Favour of Protection of Mahogany, Sharks, Dolphins, Whales

Press release - 15 November, 2002

Victory at the CITES meeting means mahogany will have a fighting chance and the Amazon and its people will benefit.

Greenpeace today welcomed the final decisions of CITES to protect mahogany, sharks, sea horses and dolphins. In addition CITES resisted moves to reopen the trade in whale products. These results came after two weeks of intense negotiations at the 12th Conference of the Parties (CoP12) to the Convention on

International Trade in Endangered Species(CITES).

An historic victory was achieved when CITES delegates voted in favour of a proposal that would lead to controlled, sustainable trade in Big Leaf Mahogany. Similar proposals had been submitted for the last 10 years and this year a proposal from Nicaragua and Guatemala was finally accepted. The protection of mahogany will have massive implications for the protection of the Amazon and forests in Latin America. Similar action is now required on threatened tree species in other parts of the world.

"Significant progress has been made at this CITES meeting in protecting

some of the world's most threatened species," said Tim Birch of Greenpeace. "While many of the world's threatened plants and animals continue to be put under pressure by the demands of international trade, in particular marine life we hope that this meeting marks a turning point in getting governments to act responsibly and take action to protect species threatened by the global economy." CITES countries have realised that ocean resources are not infinite and are being seriously impacted by commercial trade.

CITES was established to regulate and control international trade in wildlife species. It provides three regulatory options in the form of Appendices. Animals and plants listed under Appendix I are excluded from international commercial trade except in very special circumstances. Commercial trade is permitted for species listed under Appendix II but it

is strictly controlled based on CITES permits or certificates. Appendix II includes species that are protected within the borders of a member country.

However, many countries, including Japan, Russia, Norway, China and Iceland strongly opposed any attempt for CITES to protect toothfish under threat by large-scale poaching in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. Illegal fishing of toothfish is also threatening many species of albatross with extinction as these sea birds get trapped in the long lines of fishers. "Greenpeace looks forward to seeing the toothfish get protected at the next CITES meeting."

"Marine species are under enormous strain and clearly need protection from

the pressures of international fish trade. Unfortunately, many governments are all too willing to regulate in only favour of the powerful fishing lobby's short term interests," said Desley Mather, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner.