Friday, March 5, 2010

CITES Conference: one week until important conservation meeting

The CITES Meeting is now only one week away. Scheduled for March 13-25 in Qatar, this meeting is shaping up to be the "Copenhagen Conference of endangered species." Let's all hope the end results are more productive and substantive.

I've mentioned CITES in several past postings, but for those of you who are unfamiliar with this
international organization, it stands for Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. And although there are some who would be concerned over any organization that would seem to be involved in regulating trade in endangered species rather than eliminate it altogether, it has become an important body because that very position has enabled it to include a large number of member nations. Through its program of Appendix ratings (Appendix I being the most severe: a labeling of "endangered" for the particular species and often a complete curtailment in trade - no hunting, no buying), CITES has become a recognized force in worldwide conservation of flora and fauna.

The CITES web site has been completely revamped in anticipation of the meeting and you can look at a program of all the amendment proposals, which include adding species to their list or moving a species from Appendix II (a threatened species with with regulated or restricted trade) to Appendix I and, in some cases, proposals for the reverse based on some measure of improvement. Unfortunately, all of the species are listed by their scientific names, so you will need to pull out your biology and botany books or spend time Googling the Latin names. But here's a list of those that have received a lot of attention:
  • Bluefin Tuna
  • Grey Wolf
  • Bobcat
  • Polar Bear
  • African Bush Elephant
  • Nile and Moreletii Crocodiles
  • Great, Scalloped, and Smooth Hammerhead Sharks
  • Great Hammerhead Shark
  • Sandbar Shark
  • Dusky Shark
  • Oceanic White Tip Shark
  • Porbeagle Shark
  • Spiny Dogfish
And that's not all. You can look at the entire list and download the complete proposals (15MB Zip file), or look at comments from member nations to get a feel for the mood regarding any one proposal. While I do not want to take away from the importance of any proposed amendment, I personally will be watching what is decided regarding the tuna, wolf, bobcat, polar bears, and sharks.

This will be the "Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties." And it's one to watch.

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