Participants to the 74th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES SC74) continued to work very hard to tackle a very complex agenda.
One of the most contentious discussions was on Mexico’s application to register the captive breeding operation “Earth Ocean Farms S. de R.L. de C.V.”, breeding totoaba for its meat. While many countries supported the application, citing Mexico’s reassurances and commitment to having controls on the illegal trade of swim bladders, the US opposed the application noting that illegal trade is ongoing and uncontrolled, that it is jeopardizing the vaquita, and that there is no evidence that breeding reduces demand and illegal harvest. Senegal concurred and questioned the workings of a temporary restriction. Israel recalled the initial 2018 application for the registration of the facility and noted that the concerns raised by Israel and the US at the time had still not been addressed.
SC Chair Caceres noted that while there clearly wasn’t consensus, the majority of SC members appeared supportive of accepting the application. She concluded the SC accepted the registration, but Israel challenged the decision and, supported by Oceania, asked for a vote.
Nine members voted to support the application: Namibia, Ethiopia, Poland, Georgia, EU, China, Kuwait, Indonesia, Dominican Republic; five opposed: Senegal, Congo, Peru, Israel, Oceania; and one abstained. Chair Caceres concluded the SC accepted by vote the application of Earth Oceans Farms.
Israel then proposed a decision to the Secretariat under the emergency procedures on the Rules of Procedure on urgent matters, connecting totoaba with the vaquita, for the Secretariat to work with Mexico on enforcement and prevention of illegal trade and request an update on the activities of the facility. He further requested no authorization for international trade in any totoaba parts and derivatives be granted to the facility, with Chair Caceres rejecting this latter point but accepting the request that Mexico update the SC.
The remainder of the agenda discussed items including on eels, corals, seahorses, review of significant trade and specimens produced through biotechnology, which generated mostly agreement.
A strike in Lyon, France, caused a slight change in the schedule, with SC74 planning on wrapping up work by 8:30 pm.
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