Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Trade in endangered species D 3.1


considered. Even in the context of trade, the provisions

only come into play if specimens of or products

from endangered species appear in international

trade. Another gap can be illustrated by the sea turtles.

They may be listed in Appendix I of CITES and

thus subject to strict international trade regulations.

But this cannot prevent the survival of sea turtles

being jeopardized by economic activities involving

another species (shrimp), since they are caught in the

nets that are cast for shrimp.

The categories in the CITES Appendices have

proven too broad in light of the complexity of the

various degrees of threat. As the Advisory Council

wrote in its 1994 report, this fact, coupled with the

requirement of a two-thirds majority of member

states, results in decisions with regard to the inclusion

of a species or moving a species from one list to

another that do not always reflect the threat status of

that species, but are also determined by political or

economic considerations (WBGU, 1995a).

In addition, despite the relatively long period of

time for which the agreement has been in force, there

are still fundamental deficits in national and local

implementation. In the course of a study it was found

that almost 20 years after conclusion of the agreement

the vast majority of member states had not

even implemented the minimum standard (Sand,

1997; Resolution 8.4). Fundamental enforcement

problems are, in particular, the control of legal international

trade in Appendix II species, the repression

and pursuit of illegal transactions with endangered

species and the difficulty of identifying the species

listed in the Appendices by customs officials

(WBGU, 1995a; Tierney, 1998). The persistently late,

and partly incomplete, submission of annual national

reports makes the work of the CITES Secretariat all

the more difficult.The reasons for such patchy implementation

lie in part in a lack of experience, but also

in insufficient personnel, institutional, technical and

financial resources. In particular in developing countries

the main holders of biological diversity – there

are specific problems that require increased cooperation

among member states (de Klemm, 1993;

WBGU, 1995a).

D 3.1.2

The ‘Protection through sustainable use’ concept

In the light of such difficulties there are a growing

number of member states at the Conferences of the

Parties who question the premise on which CITES is

based, namely that the threat to species from commercial

exploitation can only be counteracted by

strict regulation of trade (right through to trade

bans) (Dickson, 1997). In some cases, regulation has

simply shifted the legal trade into the illegal sector

(Tierney, 1998).Thus, under the banner of sustainable

use, it is argued that limited, controlled trade under

given circumstances could be an effective conservation

instrument.The new version of the classification

criteria adopted at the 9th Conference of the Parties

in 1994 takes account of this idea with regard to decisions

for transferring a species from Appendix I to

Appendix II (Resolution 9.24). Drawing on these criteria,

it was decided at the 1997 Conference to move

the African elephant to Appendix II and thus resume

limited trade in untreated ivory as of 18 March 1999.

The states of the region in turn undertook, among

other things, to resolve the weaknesses in legal

enforcement and controls, to reinvest profits into the

maintenance of elephant stocks and to adhere to

preventive measures (export quotas, labelling of origin,

trade with only one importing country (Japan),

sale of ivory only by one single government-controlled

entity, permission for independent monitoring

of the sale, packaging and transport process). Furthermore,

the application for renewed higher classification

shall be submitted at the request of the CITES

Standing Committee if illegal trade takes the upper

hand or if there is non-compliance with the conditions

agreed upon (Decision 10.1; Dickson, 1997).

Further development of the elephant populations in

the respective countries and compliance with the

commitments thus made will be a touchstone for this

concept of sustainable use in the context of CITES.

Over and above this approach there are calls for

limited trade to be admissible for Appendix I species

to the extent to which trade contributes to financing

their conservation and no negative effects are felt on

the stocks of the species in question (Gray, 1998).

D 3.1.3

Assessment and recommendations

Protection through sustainable use

The Council is of the view that the new conditions for

the transfer of a species from Appendix I to Appendix

II, if implemented appropriately, provide adequate

scope both for species conservation and the

various social, economic and legal parameters of the

regional states. A limited resumption of trade does

blur the clear distinction between legally and illegally

procured products, thus making controls more difficult

and the moral pressure on customers lower. By

taking into account the specific demands of the

regional states and increasing cooperation, however,

the opportunity for high acceptance and better

implementation of control and protective measures

is increased. The development and enforcement of

adequate monitoring mechanisms, certification sys-

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