Governments fail to protect endangered species at CITES - Greenpeace

Press release - 25 March, 2010
As the 15th meeting of the conference of parties to the Convention in Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) closes today, Greenpeace condemned governments for putting short-term economic interests ahead of the long-term survival of endangered species.

May 2006 - Mediterranean Sea, Spain. Greenpeace divers with underwater banner reading 'Where have all the tuna gone' in Balearic Islands, Spain - a breeding ground for the bluefin tuna.

"Too many governments at CITES have voted to protect profits not endangered species," said Oliver Knowles, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner. "This conference has been a disaster for conservation."

"Country after country has come out at this meeting arguing for business as usual and continued trade in wildlife species that are already devastated by human activity."

2010 is supposed to be the UN Year of Biodiversity, a serious attempt to highlight and reverse the global trend of huge biodiversity loss which scientists agree is underway. The results of this CITES meeting, particularly for marine life, make a mockery of the UN's intentions.

Governments at CITES - itself a UN body - failed to agree the urgently needed international trade ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna, which now faces the risk of commercial extinction. Other species fared no better.

Numerous types of shark, red and pink corals as well as several land species all lost out.

The Japanese delegation was far larger than in previous years, and used aggressive lobbying tactics to undermine proposals it didn't like - particularly the attempt to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna by listing it on Appendix I. Despite EU and US support for the protection listing, both failed to counter the aggressive Japanese lobby.

"The Japanese government has shown its hand as a real opponent of global conservation efforts to reverse the trend in biodiversity loss, particularly when these efforts have an immediate impact on sushi or other seafood supplies," continued Knowles.

Given its behaviour at CITES, it is ironic that Japan will host the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) meeting in October.

"With so many governments putting profits before protecting our oceans, its clear that a whole new system of marine governance is required - one that looks after the ocean as a whole - not just the interests of industrial fishermen and other business concerns"

Greenpeace campaigns for a global network of marine reserves to cover 40% of the world's oceans, and for sustainable fishing practices

Other contacts: Oliver Knowles, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner +44 7545 007 631 Sebastian Losada, Greenpeace International oceans policy expert (speaks Spanish), +34 626 998 254John Frizell, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner +44 7801 212 999
In AmsterdamJo Kuper, Greenpeace International communications +31 6 46 16 20 39 Steve Smith, Greenpeace International communications +31 6 43 78 73 59