Wood species used for violin bows, shark species featured in British fish and chip meals and coral species exploited for jewelry rank high on the CITES conference agenda for international trade controls in endangered species, opening on Sunday
Commercially valuable species will take the centre stage of the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), starting on Sunday 3 June in The Hague. The decisions by the Parties to the Convention may limit the amount of spiny dogfish available for British fish and chips, the wild wood species Pau Brazil available for violin bows, and the red and pink corals used for necklaces fetching up to US$ 25,000 per piece. Spiny Dogfish and Paul Brazil are classified as threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with over-harvesting being the main threat to their survival.
“These proposals on lucrative marine and timber species mark a shift from purelycommercial interests to recognizing conservation concerns. With growing recognition that resources are decreasing, the big fish and timber industries are faced with including conservation concerns in their calculations,” says Dr. Sue Mainka, Head of the delegation of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) to the CITES conference.
Other commercially valuable marine and timber species proposed for CITES trade regulations are the porbeagle shark, European eel, and rosewood and cedar trees.
The Spiny Dogfish, a naturally abundant migratory shark in temperate seas around the world, has been severely depleted by fisheries driven by persistent demand for its meat, primarily in Europe. Spiny Dogfish is used for fish and chips in the UK, less expensive versions of Chinese shark fin soup, and also as fertilizer, liver oil and pet food.
The shark species is particularly vulnerable to over exploitation due to its slow growth rates (2.7-3.3 mm per year), long life span (50-100 years) and slow reproduction rate (females mature after 12-23 years, giving birth to an average of six pups after a 24 months gestation period). Fisheries target large pregnant females as the most valuable part of the stock. Spiny Dogfish is listed as Globally Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Germany, on behalf of the European Union, proposes to include the Spiny Dogfish in Appendix II of the CITES Convention.
“Regulating the international trade in spiny dogfish is one measure that countries could consider to help this threatened species recover,” says Sarah Fowler, co-chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Shark Specialist Group.
Pau Brazil, a slow growing wood species with striking blood-red heartwood endemic to Brazil, has been heavily exploited for over 500 years. Initially used as a source of dye, it is now being harvested for manufacturing professional bows for violins, violas, cellos and double-bases. A single violin bow is estimated to cost up to US$ 5,000, using 1 kg of wood.
International trade and habitat loss have severely depleted this species, which is now restricted to the Brazilian Atlantic Coastal Forest, a forest area now covering less than 8% of its original extent. Pau Brazil is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Brazil’s proposal to include Pau Brazil in Appendix II of the CITES Convention would mean that all its derivates including musical instruments would become subject to CITES regulation, requiring musicians or orchestras to travel with CITES permits when they go on trips abroad.
“This beautiful timber is valued and used worldwide. No comparable substitute is known for the making of bows for string instruments and therefore demand is likely to remain high internationally,” says Jane Smart, Head of the IUCN Species Programme.
Red and pink coral
Red and pink corals, including about 31 species of coral across the globe, have been used for thousands of years for the production of jewelry, ornaments and medicine. However, overexploitation of commercial Mediterranean stocks over the last 200 years has decreased harvests by two thirds. Most of the trade takes place between Mediterranean and Pacific countries producing red and pink coral and the United States importing them. Processed beads of coral fetch up to US$50 per gram.
Many red and pink corals are slow growing (0.2-2cm per year) and extremely long-lived (75-100 years), which make them particularly vulnerable to over exploitation.
“There are currently no internationally binding conservation measures for red and pink corals. A decision by governments to manage the international trade would be a first,” says Imène Meliane, IUCN Marine Programme Officer.
The World Conservation Union, in collaboration with TRAFFIC, has compiled a sound scientific analysis of all upcoming CITES proposals for international trade controls. Based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and its wide network of species and species trade experts, the “Analyses of Proposals to Amend the CITES Appendices” provides the best trade and conservation information to countries, in order to make informed decisions possible.
Notes to editors
A large IUCN expert delegation will be present at the CITES conference, covering all species under discussion. To set up interviews, please contact:
IUCN Media Briefs:
The IUCN/TRAFFIC 'Analyses of Proposals to Amend the CITES Appendices': http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/our_work/wildlife_trade/citescop14/cop14analyses.htm
IUCN information on CITES: www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/our_work/wildlife_trade/citescop14/index_cites_2007.htm
- The CITES Convention aims to ensure that international trade of endangered wild plants and animals does not threaten their survival. It is an international agreement between currently 171 governments.
- Appendix I: International commercial trade for species listed under Appendix 1 is prohibited entirely. Appendix I lists species threatened with extinction.
- Appendix II: International trade in species listed under Appendix-II is limited: it may only be authorized by the granting of an export permit or re-export certificate. Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.
About the World Conservation Union (IUCN)
Created in 1948, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) brings together 84 States, 108 government agencies, 800 plus NGOs, and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.
The Union is the world's largest environmental knowledge network and has helped over 75 countries to prepare and implement national conservation and biodiversity strategies. The Union is a multicultural, multilingual organization with 1,000 staff located in 62 countries. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.
More information can be found at www.iucn.org