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Weekly Trade Focus: Trade and Endangered Species

On October 14, the United States Government submitted proposals to the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to list six shark species and over 30 species of red and pink corals in Appendix II of the Convention and to uplist the polar bear to CITES Appendix I. Additionally the United States submitted a proposal to remove the bobcat from the CITES Appendices and several other documents relating to technical implementation issues. The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15) to CITES will be held in Doha, Qatar, during March 13- 25, 2010, where the Parties to the Convention will discuss relevant issues concerning the trade in animal and plant species, including the aforemented U.S. proposals.

CITES is an international agreement with 175 Parties. The purpose of the Convention is to ensure that international trade in plants and animals does not threaten their survival. Current data indicate that International trade in wildlife is worth billions of dollars annually.

CITES lists species in three appendices, depending on the level of protection needed. Appendix I includes species that are threatened with extinction and bans all commercial trade. Appendix II lists species that are not immediately threatened with extinction, but might be without strict trade controls. Trade in Appendix-II species is allowed if the exporting country can find that the wildlife was legally acquired and the trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild. Listing in Appendix I or II requires a two-thirds majority of the voting Parties. Countries that ask for a species to be placed in Appendix III are requesting international cooperation regarding the regulation of trade in that species. Appendix-III listings can be done unilaterally. Currently, more than 30,000 animal and plant species are listed in one of the appendices to CITES, including sea turtles, American ginseng, and the giant panda.