The wildlife conference increases the protection of sharks and turtles

PANAMA CITY (AP) – An international wildlife conference moved to enact some of the most significant protections for fin-traded shark species and scores of turtles, lizards and frogs whose numbers have been decimated by the fin trade. pets.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known by the initials CITES, concluded on Friday in Panama. Along with protections for more than 500 species, delegates at the United Nations wildlife conference rejected a proposal to reopen the ivory trade. An ivory ban was enacted in 1989.

“The good news from CITES is good news for wildlife as this treaty is one of the cornerstones of international conservation, imperative to ensuring that countries come together to fight the related global crises of biodiversity collapse, climate change and pandemics.” said Susan Lieberman, vice president of international policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“Many of the proposals adopted here reflect ongoing overexploitation and unsustainable trade and the escalation of illegal trade, and some are due to complex interactions of other threats depleting species populations in the wild, including climate change, disease, infrastructure development and habitat loss,” he added.

The International Wildlife Trade Treaty, adopted 49 years ago in Washington, DC, has been praised for helping to curb the illegal and unsustainable trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn, as well as whales and sea turtles.

But it has been criticized for its limitations, including its reliance on cash-strapped developing countries to fight the illicit trade that has grown into a lucrative $10 billion-a-year business.

One of this year’s biggest accomplishments has been the enhancement or protection of more than 90 shark species, including 54 requiem shark species, the lionhead shark, three hammerhead shark species, and 37 guitarfish species. Many had never had trade protection and now, under Appendix II, commercial trade will be regulated.

Global shark populations are declining, with annual fishing-related deaths reaching an estimated 100 million. Sharks are primarily sought for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup, a popular delicacy in China and elsewhere in Asia.

“These species are threatened by unsustainable and unregulated fishing that supplies the international trade in their meat and fins, which has resulted in large population declines,” said Rebecca Regnery, senior director for wildlife at Humane Society International. According to the list, parties to CITES may only allow trade if it is not detrimental to the survival of species in the wild, providing these species with the help they need to recover from overexploitation.”

The conference also enacted protections for dozens of species of turtles, lizards and frogs, including glass frogs whose translucent skin has made them a favorite in the pet trade. Several species of songbirds have also been granted commercial protection.

“Already under enormous ecological pressure from habitat loss, climate change and disease, the unmanaged and growing trade in glass frogs is exacerbating already existing threats to the species,” Danielle Kessler, US director of the Fund International Animal Welfare Organization, “This trade must be regulated and limited to sustainable levels to avoid exacerbating the multiple threats they already face.”

But some of the more controversial proposals did not pass.

Some African countries and conservation groups had hoped to ban the hippo trade. But it has been resisted by the European Union, some African countries and several conservation groups, who argue that many countries have healthy hippo populations and that trade is not a factor in their decline.

“Globally beloved mammals such as rhinos, hippos, elephants and leopards received no greater protections during this encounter, while a group of weird wonders won conservation victories,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological diversity. . “In the midst of a heartbreaking extinction crisis, we need a global agreement to fight for all species, even when it’s controversial.”

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