As the first week of CITES CoP19 closed, delegates had several achievements under their belts. But time remains of the essence for a successful outcome.
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Committee I voted to list guitarfishes, freshwater stingrays, and Thelenota sea cucumber under CITES Appendix II. Introducing the proposal, Israel noted that guitarfishes have been historically overexploited but until now were “overlooked" by CITES, as the last of a total of five families of shark-like rays to be listed in the Appendices.
Committee II concluded consideration of Elephant-related agenda items. After protracted discussions, it voted to establish a dialogue meeting of African range states, as well as other interested parties, to discuss elephant trade; and to limit live elephant trade in the meantime to in situ conservation in their natural, historical habitat. In the afternoon, it considered how to improve enforcement and surveillance of illegal totoaba trade in Mexico, where the fish originates.
Even after a full week’s work, both Committees are a full day behind on the items meant for consultation. Throughout the sessions, both Chairs called for brief statements and punctual starts, going so far as to interrupt participants who went over their allotted time. “At this point, I am concerned,” one said to the assembled delegates, invoking the possibility that work may not be completed by next week’s plenary. Saturday and Sunday have no formal meetings on the schedule, but bilateral and informal meetings will no doubt continue over the weekend. Side-events took place across the venue throughout the day, drawing participants’ attention to aspects of international trade including:
- A vision for timber sector transformation in West Africa;
- CITES and livelihoods;
- Conserving shark populations for coastal communities;
- Partnerships for legal, sustainable, and traceable trade in commercially exploited aquatic species; and
- One Health and pandemic prevention at CITES and beyond.
All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For CITES CoP19 please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera