14/03/13

14/03/13: EU brokered proposals for protection of sharks, elephants and rhino adopted at International Convention

Ground-breaking proposals to provide protection for sharks were voted through at the final session of the CITES conference this morning (Thursday 14 March 2013).

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure sustainable trade in wild species of plants and animals. Every three years, countries from all over the world come together at Conferences of Parties (CoPs) to examine what species are threatened by trade and to vote on whether such species need to be protected under the Convention.

This morning’s votes will provide protection for sharks from unsustainable international trade, in particular the trade in shark fins to Asia. Sharks set to benefit from these proposals include the Oceanic White Tip and several Hammerhead shark species. A further proposal to protect the Porbeagle shark, which was put forward by Ireland on behalf of the EU, was also adopted.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the EU and its Member States and Croatia at the CITES CoP, encouraged countries to support the proposals to ensure that shark species, which have swum in our oceans for hundreds of millions of years, would continue to survive and thrive.

Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, welcomed the result of the votes: “The results today mark a significant step towards the long term conservation of shark species. I am particularly pleased regarding the adoption of our proposal on Porbeagle as this shark is a visitor to Irish waters.”

Significant decisions, brokered by the Irish delegation together with colleagues from other EU delegations, aimed at addressing a rise in illegal trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn were also adopted. The recommendations developed by a CITES working group to regulate marine species caught in international waters (the so called “introduction from the sea” proposals) were also adopted to the satisfaction of the Irish and EU delegations.

The EU efforts to bring consensus to the divisive polar bear issue, though recognised, were not successful. The CITES CoP 16 concludes today.

ENDS

Notes for editors:
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Roughly 5,000 species of animals and 29,000 species of plants are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade. They are listed in the three CITES Appendices. The species are grouped in the Appendices according to how threatened they are by international trade. They include some whole groups, such as primates, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), sea turtles, parrots, corals, cacti and orchids. But in some cases only a subspecies or geographically separate population of a species (for example the population of just one country) is listed.

Ireland currently holds the Presidency of the EU Council and is speaking at the CITES CoP on behalf of the EU, its 27 Member States and Croatia (an accession State due to join the EU shortly).

There are currently 178 Parties to CITES. Further information on the CITES convention can be found here: www.cites.org

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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