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News 28 Feb
Fish, trees, cuddly mammal protected from human trade
PlanetArk 1 Mar 07
New Curbs Proposed on Trade in Endangered Species
Story by Robert Evans
GENEVA - Europeans may soon find some of their favourite fish dishes are off the menu while lovers of coral jewellery and consumers of Asian medicines may have to change their ways, the United Nations indicated on Wednesday.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said proposals on the agenda for a key conference in June would, if approved, impose tighter rules on trade in a range of endangered species -- animals and trees as well as riches of the sea.
The European Union, UNEP said, wanted to see controls on the sale of the spiny dogfish, a small shark often called "rock salmon" and especially popular as a fish-and-chips dish in Britain and eaten with horseradish in Germany.
The United States is seeking restrictions on trade in pink coral, the most precious variety of the tiny marine polyp, while Kenya and Mali want a 20-year ban on sales of raw or worked ivory to protect elephants.
The proposals will be discussed at the three-yearly gathering of signatory states to the UN's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to be held in The Hague from June 3 to 15.
CITES, whose secretariat works with UNEP, was adopted by more than 100 countries in 1973 and now has 169 signatories.
Among other species for which greater protection is on the agenda for the June gathering are the tiny, wide-eyed Asian slow loris primate, European eels, sawfish, Caribbean lobsters and Latin American cedar and rosewood trees.
Cambodia, which is seeking a full CITES ban on trade in the loris, argues that the animal -- popular as a pet in Asia but threatened mainly because its bones are used in Asian traditional medicines -- could soon die out.
Countries calling for restrictions on trade in eels, sawfish and lobsters say their numbers are declining rapidly because they are grossly over-fished, while the defenders of tropical trees say they are being logged to extinction.
The proposal for a total ban on ivory trade is likely to be fiercely contested by countries from southern Africa, which argue they have been successful in limiting illegal killing of elephants, which CITES experts say has yet to be proved.
Botswana and Namibia want an easing of CITES rules on one-off ivory sales, and Botswana itself is to ask the conference for approval to sell 40 tonnes from its existing stocks and an annual export quota of eight tonnes. Kenya and Mali -- which also have elephant populations and have waged a bitter struggle against illegal killing to harvest the animals' tusks -- say any easing of the CITES rules would encourage poachers.
Another proposal experts say is likely to cause controversy is one from Uganda to end a total ban on the export of leopard parts and replace it with less onerous restrictions which would allow a limited trade in skins as hunting trophies.
Yahoo News 28 Feb 07
Fish, trees, cuddly mammal protected from human trade
GENEVA (AFP) - Pink coral, cedar trees, fish that end up on the dinner plate and a cuddly, wide-eyed mammal prized in Asian medicine are among the animal and plant species that could gain greater protection this year, a UN agency said Wednesday.
The United Nations agency regulating the trade in endangered species, CITES, unveiled some 40 new government proposals for changes to wildlife trade rules which will be considered at the organisation's conference in June.
The agency said many of the proposals reflected growing international concern about the accelerating destruction of the world's marine and forest resources through overfishing and excessive logging.
"Biological diversity faces many threats, ranging from habitat destruction to climate change to unrestrained commercial harvesting for trade," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, which administers CITES.
The conference allows countries to amend rules aimed at defining and protecting endangered species.
Currently some 530 animal and 300 plant species benefit from complete protection under CITES, while only restricted trade is allowed for another 4,460 animal and 28,000 plants.
Potentially the most endearing new candidate for a complete ban on trade is the endangered Slow Loris, a small, furry, nocturnal primate from south and southeast Asia. Cambodia, which is sponsoring full protection under CITES Appendix I, says the Loris is threatened by a combination of the destruction of its forest habitat, growing demand for traditional medicine and as a pet.
Officials underlined a shift in focus this year away from the more traditional endagered species to commercially over-exploited fish and trees.
"Commercial timber and fish species have long been kept away from CITES. Those species were considered off limits," said CITES Secretary General Willem Wijnstekers. "That is changing."
"Extensive deforestation" of the cedar tree in South and central America, is prompting the European Union to seek trade restrictions under Appendix II for the species, which is valued for its insect and rot resistant wood.
The EU also wants the trade in European eels, a popular food in coastal areas of northern Europe, and the spiny dogfish, a type of shark prized in fish and chip shops, to be subject to a permit system and fisheries management, CITES said.
Germany, which currently holds the European Union presidency, said the spiny dogfish was vulnerable because of its tendency to travel in large schools that are easily trawled by fishing boats and its slow reproductive rate.
Meanwhile European eel stocks have declined "dramatically" due to overfishing, according to CITES.
Other fish species up for protection due to over-exploitation include Brazilian lobsters. A popular item in home aquariums, the striking tropical Bangai cardinal fish, is also a candidate for listing, because about 700,000 to 900,000 of them are collected every year.
The United States wants to control the trade in pink coral for the first time, because of the over-exploitation of tropical coral reefs which have been rendered fragile and bleached by climate change. The pink variety of the polyp has been prized in jewellery and for decoration for 5,000 years.
Several countries sought to lower protection on species, including the Black Cayman in Brazil. Uganda asked for a ban on trade related to Ugandan leopards to be lifted to allow limited trade in sports trophies, CITES said. Wijnstekers said other bids to remove species from protection altogether suggested that measures to save endangered species were successful.
This year's list included the North American bobcat and several types of cactus.
Governments to Consider New CITES Trade Controls on the UNEP website
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