On March 15, 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) wrapped up its 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16).
The meeting brought together representatives from more than 150 countries to discuss current issues in wildlife trade. As a Party (member country) to CITES, the United States submitted several proposals to increase protections for native and foreign species as well as multiple resolutions to streamline and strengthen the implementation of CITES.
Scalloped Hammerhead. (Photo: NOAA)
CoP16 was an overwhelming success with many U.S. priority issues receiving attention. Here are some exciting highlights of progress made at CoP16:
Sharks & Rays
- CoP16 marked a huge milestone in protecting sharks and manta rays from overharvest! Colombia, along with the United States and Brazil, submitted a proposal to include oceanic whitetip sharks in CITES Appendix II. This proposal as well as proposals to protect porbeagle sharks, three species of hammerheads, and manta rays were all adopted.
Turtles & Tortoises
- Another victory at CoP16 was widespread protection for freshwater turtles. CITES Parties voted to increase protections for 44 species of Asian freshwater turtles and tortoises and three species of North American turtles. The United States jointly submitted with China two proposals to increase CITES protection for a number of Asian softshell and hardshell turtle species. These proposals were agreed by consensus with strong support voiced by range States and non-range States.
- To battle the ongoing ivory crisis, CITES Parties strengthened controls on ivory trade by creating an Ivory Enforcement Task Force, increasing monitoring of and cooperative investigative actions regarding illegal ivory trade, and adopting a series of country-specific, time-bound actions for those countries acting as source, transit or consumer countries for illegal ivory trade.
- Rhinos also received additional protection as CITES Parties agreed to a series of actions for both rhino range States and consumer countries to more effectively combat poaching and illegal rhino horn trade, including country-specific, time-bound actions particularly focusing on Mozambique and Vietnam.
- The CITES Parties adopted a number of new listings of timber species in the CITES Appendices at CoP16. These include proposals put forward by Madagascar to list their native populations of rosewood and ebony and proposals by Belize to list three species of rosewood. These new listings will strongly support the efforts of these countries to ensure that the international timber trade is conducted legally and in a sustainable manner.
In addition to the increased protection of wildlife at CoP16, the meeting also passed several resolutions to clarify, simplify and strengthen CITES. It also set a new standard for international collaboration with the United States partnering with several other Parties to successfully conserve wildlife. The U.S. delegates left the conference hopeful for the future, knowing that CoP16 marked a momentous occasion for wildlife conservation and international cooperation.
Learn more about the exciting progress made at CoP16 by visiting the International Affairs CoP16 page.