Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive! - Vol. IX No. 1 - January 2000

CITES Update

By Kate O'Connell, CSI Board

The next meeting of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna) is scheduled to occur in Nairobi, Kenya from the 10th through the 20th of April, 2000. The meeting promises to be extremely difficult, and one of the main causes for concern is the continued attempt by the whaling nations of Japan and Norway to remove certain whale species from the CITES list of protected species. If Norway and Japan are successful, it will reopen the commercial trade in whale products that has been to most intents and purposes halted by the International Whaling Commission's ban on commercial whaling.

Norway seeks to downlist from Appendix I (no commercial trade) to Appendix II the Northeast Atlantic and North Atlantic central stock of minke whales, while Japan has proposed downlisting the gray whale, the southern hemisphere minke whale, and the Okhotsk Sea/West Pacific stock of minke whales.

In addition both governments are proferring a resolution that would take away CITES' recognition of the IWC's whaling moratorium, although the US has countered with a resolution both recognizing and strengthening CITES support for the IWC's management and conservation actions for whales.

However, in spite of such grim news, there is a very positive note to mention which is that Georgia has proposed uplisting the Black Sea population of bottlenose dolphins to Appendix I in order to protect from potential commercial sale to the aquaria industry. The Black Sea bottlenose has faced numerous habitat threats, both from fisheries and from pollution, and the species has not fared well in transport to captive facilities, with large numbers dying each year. Georgia is being supported in its efforts by the US, and various range states.

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