This is the first in a series of posts from CITES. Read the rest of the dispatches here.
CITES is now in session in Doha, Qatar. Our team will be there for the next 10 days pushing for further trade restrictions on corals, sharks and the Atlantic bluefin tuna. They sent us this video dispatch of campaign director Dave Allison from the airport en route. Stay tuned for more!
We're celebrating a big win yesterday for loggerhead sea turtles.
In response to two petitions submitted in 2007 by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network, yesterday the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to change the status of North Pacific and Northwest Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles from “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.
The government also proposed listing loggerhead sea turtles around the globe as nine separate populations, each with its own threatened or endangered status.
The change in listing status means the populations are in danger of extinction and will trigger a legal requirement for proposed critical habitat, an important step in achieving improved protections for key nesting beaches and migratory and feeding habitat in the ocean.
On this hump day, a few cetaceous stories for your perusal:
As you've probably heard, the team behind Sunday’s Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove” exposed Santa Monica sushi restaurant The Hump for serving illegal whale meat. The possession or sale of marine mammals -- in this case, the endangered sei whale -- is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and can lead to a year in prison and a fine of $20,000.
And on the brighter side, the BBC has a remarkable slideshow of images showing a sperm whale surface feeding off the coast of New Zealand. Surface feeding is uncommon for sperm whales, who usually hunt many meters below the sea’s surface -- this individual must have been pretty hungry.
Some great news for the imperiled bluefin tuna: Today the U.S. announced that it supports a total ban on the international trade of the tigers of the sea, which could make a big difference in the two weeks leading up to the CITES meeting in Doha.
Thanks to all of you who have taken action leading up to CITES. Now let's hope the European Union follows suit.
Things could be looking up for the tigers of the sea.
Next month, 175 nations will meet in Doha, Qatar to discuss whether bluefin tuna will join the likes of pandas and elephants as endangered species under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
While France has joined Monaco in declaring its support for the ban, Spain’s position remains in doubt.
Spain currently holds the EU presidency and the dubious honor of catching much of the Mediterranean's bluefin tuna. Yesterday, Oceana held an event along with Greenpeace, MarViva, Pew, WWF and Ecologistas en Acción urging Spain to support the ban.
Kofi Annan, Michael Douglas and Colin Firth, among many other public personalities, have signed on in support of the listing.
Oceana will be in Doha in March voicing our support for bluefin. Here’s hoping -- and stay tuned.