News Release

Assistant Secretary of the Interior Tom Strickland Announces Species Proposals, other Submissions for Upcoming CITES Meeting in Doha, Qatar

October 16, 2009

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland today announced a number of species conservation proposals, resolutions and other agenda items that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has submitted on behalf of the United States government for consideration during the upcoming meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Strickland will lead the United States’ delegation to CoP15, on behalf of the U.S. government.

CITES is an international agreement signed by 175 nations designed to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their continued survival. The fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15) will take place in Doha, Qatar, on March 13-25, 2010.

The proposals announced today involve international management and conservation of multiple species, including polar bear, six species of sharks and more than thirty species of coral. In addition, the Service co-sponsored a discussion document with the People’s Republic of China concerning commercial trade in snakes.

“Unregulated international trade threatens the existence of dozens of species worldwide. By providing a shared international framework for enforcement and regulation, CITES enables countries to work together to ensure that trade occurs in a responsible and sustainable manner,” said Strickland. “The proposals submitted this week will strengthen protections for dozens of declining species, while improving enforcement and implementation of CITES for many others.”

Submitted proposals include:

A proposal to move the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) from Appendix II to Appendix I due to current and anticipated future habitat loss due to climate change. The polar bear has been listed under CITES Appendix II since 1975. Polar bears exist entirely in thecircumpolar Arctic sea ice environment within five countries: Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russian Federation, and the United States. Limiting commercial trade in this species will address a source of non-climate stress to polar bear populations, and contribute to long-term recovery.

The United States submitted proposals, co-sponsored by Palau, to listsix shark species in Appendix II, including the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth hammerhead (Sphyrnazygaena), dusky shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) and sandbar shark (Carcharhinus obscurus), due to concerns that overexploitation for the international fin trade is impacting their population status. The fins of these species are among the most valuable in the soup fin market. Outside of the United States, there is little fishery management in place to regulate the catch of these sharks.

The United States also submitted a proposal, co-sponsored by theEuropean Community, to list 31 species of red and pink corals in the family Corallidae in Appendix II. The United States is the primary importer of worked and raw pink and red corals for curios and jewelry.

The United States is proposing to remove the bobcat (Lynx rufus) from Appendix II. The bobcat was included in Appendix II in 1977 along with all species of wild cats. Populations in the United States and Mexico are considered secure.

For the first time, the United States has co-sponsored a discussion document with the People’s Republic of China. This document highlights the large-scale commercial trade in snakes for human consumption, traditional medicine and other uses, such as the exotic leather trade, and recommends convening a technical expert workshop to discuss options for improved control of international trade.

The United States also submitted other proposals, amendments to resolutions, and other documents designed to provide appropriate levels of protection, and improve CITES implementation and enforcement for various species. Additional information concerning the upcoming CITES meeting and the United States submissions and positions is posted on the web at: http://www.fws.gov/international/DMA_DSA/CITES/CITES_CoP15.html

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