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Brussels, 26 March 2010
Outcome of the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Doha:
Statement by Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment
I welcome the adoption of measures for better protection of species endangered by international trade, for instance relating to tiger conservation, illegal internet trade for wildlife species, a number of reptile and amphibian species and enforcement against rhinoceros poaching. I am also satisfied that CITES Parties agreed that it would be premature to allow for a resumption of the ivory trade.
However, I am disappointed that no proposals to afford better protection to a number of marine species – bluefin tuna, corals and sharks – have been adopted by the CITES Parties. I remain nonetheless convinced that CITES has an important role to play in ensuring the conservation and sustainable trade of marine species, complementing the work of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations where they exist.
The EU came to Doha supporting an international ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna and it had submitted proposals to regulate trade in two shark species (spiny dogfish and porbeagle) as well as red and pink corals. Despite scientific evidence demonstrating the decline of these species and their clear trade relevance, these proposals did not gather the 2/3 majority required for approval by CITES Parties. Two shark-related proposals by the US were also rejected. This outcome is disappointing, all the more so bearing in mind that 2010 is the international year for biodiversity.
With respect to the role of CITES in relation to marine species in general, the European Commission remains convinced that all available international instruments should be used to halt the alarming loss of biodiversity, including that of marine biodiversity. The CITES Convention, which is designed to address threats to biodiversity caused by international trade, is clearly one of these instruments.
At the same time, the European Commission believes that trade instruments like CITES and international organisations in charge of fisheries have a complementary role. The European Commission is committed to uphold its efforts to ensure improved conservation of marine resources in upcoming discussions within Regional Fisheries Management Organisations. This is in particular the case for Atlantic bluefin tuna in view of the ICCAT meeting in November 2010 in Paris. Better protection for shark species is also critically needed and the EU will continue to promote ambitious measures within the EU and in all relevant regional and international bodies to this end.