U.S. to Support Restrictions on Bluefin Tuna and Other Imperiled Species at CITES Conference

Written by on March 15, 2010 in Policy & Ocean Law

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland said the United States will support trade restrictions on bluefin tuna, polar bears, and imperiled corals and sharks among other proposals at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that takes place March 13-25.

“The United States will push hard to curtail international trade in species that are sliding towards extinction, including species such as bluefin tuna that are currently not regulated under the treaty,” said Strickland, who is heading the U.S. delegation to the treaty’s 15th Conference of the Parties. “At the same time, we will renew our commitment to help range countries scientifically manage and conserve species such as tigers and elephants already protected under the treaty.”

CITES is an international agreement initiated in 1973 and signed by more than 175 countries regulating global trade of imperiled wild animals and plants, including their parts and products.  A Conference of the Parties is held every 2-3 years to discuss changes in the management and control of trade in the wildlife species covered by the agreement.

Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin Tuna

“The purpose of CITES is to put a check on international commerce when it threatens a species’ existence,” Strickland said. “The U.S. government has significant concerns about the serious compliance problems that have plagued the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean fishery, and the fact that the 2010 International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) quota level is not as low as needed, the United States will support the proposal to list Atlantic bluefin tuna in Appendix I at COP15.  We intend to work actively with Monaco and other CITES and ICCAT parties in order to achieve positive results for bluefin tuna.”

Appendix I includes species for which it is determined that any commercial trade is detrimental to the survival of the species and no commercial trade is allowed.

The United States has submitted a proposal to list polar bears in Appendix I to highlight the need to enhance protections for the species. In cooperation with several other countries, the U.S. has also submitted proposals to list red and pink corals, along with several species of sharks, in Appendix II.  Appendix II includes species for which is has been determined that commercial trade may be detrimental to the survival of the species if that trade is not strictly controlled.  Trade is regulated through the use of export permits.

Precious coral (Corallium sp.) at 1692 meters. Credit: NOAA

Precious coral (Corallium sp.) at 1692 meters. Credt: NOAA

Sandbar shark. Credit: NOAA

Sandbar shark. Credit: NOAA

Additional information on the CITES conference can be found on the CITES organizational web site.

Copyright ©  2010 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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