Oceana issued the following statement from Dr. Michael Hirshfield, senior vice president for North America and chief scientist, today in response to the announcement that the United States government supports efforts to ban the international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
"Oceana congratulates and fully supports the decision of the United States government to back efforts to ban the international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna. The Administration, including the federal agencies representing the United States at the CITES 15th Conference of the Parties later this month (March 13-25) in Doha, Qatar, announced its support today for the inclusion of bluefin tuna in CITES Appendix I.
The United States’ support to protect ocean wildlife through trade restrictions is yet another example of the Obama Administration’s efforts to improve ocean conservation.
Overfishing and the demand of international trade have driven bluefin tuna to the edge of extinction. The bluefin proposal was initiated by Monaco, but support is growing from the countries of the world along with recognition that this is a 'last chance' protection for one of the oceans most valuable and vulnerable species.
The United States is also proposing the inclusion of six shark species and thirty-one coral species in CITES Appendix II.
By stepping in early to call for effective management measures for sharks and corals at CITES, the United States is helping to ensure that nations and consumers do not create another dire situation like the one facing bluefin tuna."
What is CITES:
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is an international agreement entered into force in 1975 to prevent species from becoming extinct as a result of international trade. Regulated through export and import permits, CITES applies to species whose populations may be threatened by international trade. There are approximately 5,000 species of animals and 28,000 species of plants included in the CITES three appendices. Proposals to include species in Appendices I and II are considered by the 175 CITES countries at a Conference of the Parties every two to three years. Within the last 30 years, no species that has been included in CITES has gone extinct, thus illustrating its ability to be successful.
Appendix I is the most stringent inclusion, banning commercial international trade for species who are most threatened with extinction.
Appendix II is for species that may become threatened with extinction if trade of the species is not strictly regulated. In addition, species that look similar in appearance to other species included in Appendix II may also be included. International commercial trade of included species requires an export permit.
Appendix III includes species that an individual Party has asked other parties to assist in the regulation of trade. Trade of the included species requires an export permit and a certificate of origin.