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  WWF 17 Jan 07
CITES: Proposals to change wildlife regulations unveiled

Gland, Switzerland: Proposals to amend the lists of species subject to trade controls have been submitted by governments ahead of this year's meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Parties to the wildlife convention submitted about 40 proposals for discussion, ranging from the highly charismatic mammal species such as the African elephant and leopard, to such commercially valuable marine species as sharks, eels and coral.

In fact, one-third of the proposed animals listings put forward are marine species.

"This greatly increased engagement of the wildlife trade treaty in marine species and the regulation of the international fisheries trade is a welcome trend," said TRAFFIC International Executive Director Steven Broad.

"This clearly demonstrates growing recognition of CITES as a key tool to complement other conservation and management measures for commercially important marine resources."

Among the marine species proposals to be discussed are proposals by Germany, on behalf of the European Union, to list the porbeagle shark and spiny dogfish in Appendix II of CITES, a listing in which the international trade of these species would be closely regulated. Populations of both species have dramatically declined in the North Atlantic--by up to 95 per cent for the spiny dogfish and 89 per cent for the porbeagle in the last 10 and 40 years respectively.

"International trade of these sharks is not controlled and fisheries are ineffectively managed," said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF's Global Species Programme. "It's crunch time for these species. There's not a minute to lose."

These are also proposals to list species of sawfish in Appendix I (which would prohibit international commercial trade) as well as spiny lobster, European eel, red and pink coral and Bangaii cardinalfish in Appendix II.

According to WWF, there is also a worrying proposal from Japan that asks CITES to review the status of all whale species in Appendix I.

Marine species aside, four of the proposals submitted concern the African elephant, including a proposal from Tanzania to downlist its population of African elephants from Appendix I to Appendix II. Other proposals emphasize the sustainable use of wildlife.

Brazil has proposed transferring its population of black caiman to Appendix II to allow for trade in the skins of the reptile, while Bolivia has proposed a labelling system for the fine silky wool sheared from live vicuņa.

There are 17 different proposals dealing with plant species, including a proposal to list seven species of Spanish cedar under Appendix II. Widely used as a construction timber, as well as for furniture and paneling, the listing would regulate trade in the timber species through a system of permits. There are also proposals to list Brazilwood and three Dalbergia rosewood species in Appendix II.

In addition to the listing proposals, a number of key wildlife trade issues on the agenda of the meeting will also be keenly debated.

This includes determining issues pertaining to tigers and the illegal trade in their skins and bones, and whether conditions have been satisfied to allow exports of elephant ivory from Botswana (20 tonnes), Namibia (10 tonnes) and South Africa (30 tonnes) that were agreed to in principle in 2002.

All proposals will be considered at the next CITES meeting, scheduled to take place in the Hague, the Netherlands, from 3-15 June 2007.

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