For the last several days, I’ve been covering the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). While all the proceedings are important–this is arguably one of the most important gatherings worldwide of people with a stake in the wildlife trade–my specific, professional focus was on just a few of the 62 proposals. As a journalist who covers fisheries at the intersection of science and sustainability, I was most interested in one of the most unrepresented groups of animals in CITES: the fishes.
This morning I published a blog entry titled “Big Day for a Handful of Marine Species at CoP17.” A little later, as technical issues with the voting system delayed the agenda, I published an entry titled “Listing More Species of Marine Fishes on CITES ‘Critical.'” As these two blog entries suggest, I do believe CITES could play a larger role in managing marine species that struggle under the weight of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Today is the last day for CITES proposals to be considered during CoP17, and given the import I was placing on the fish proposals, I was growing increasingly anxious as time for discussion and debate was rapidly running out. I learned via text and various social media channels, that my anxiety was shared by a number of colleagues who were in the committee meeting in Johannesburg that I was watching via webcast from the coast of Maine. Would they even get to the species in which some of us were most interested? Would there be time for a comprehensive discussion and debate about those species? In addition to hearing from the Parties who both support and oppose the proposals, would there be time to hear from observers such as various NGOs, trade groups and the like?
As it turned out, by the time they reached the species about which I was most interested given that it’s one I have researched, followed and reported on most extensively since 2009 (including traveling to its endemic range in Indonesia in 2012, they were essentially out of time. Earlier today I covered the bare bones details of what happened with that proposal, and I’ll be publishing a deeper analysis in the coming days (once I’m no longer living in Maine on South African time with an alarm set for 2:30 am each morning), but for now, I want to just publish the scorecard for those of you who may not have been following the proceedings.
So how did today turn out for marine species?
- Proposal 42 to include the silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) on Appendix II was adopted by a vote of 111 to 30.
- Proposal 43 to include the thresher sharks (Alopias spp.) on Appendix II was adopted by a vote of 108 to 29.
- Proposal 44 to include the devil ray (Mobula spp.) on Appendix II was adopted by a vote of 110 to 20.
- Proposal 46 to include the Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) on Appendix II was withdrawn by the EU.
- Proposal 47 to include the Clarion angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis) on Appendix II was adopted by a vote of 69 to 21.
- …and not a fish, but Proposal 48 to include the Nautilus (Nautilidae spp.) on Appendix II was adopted.
In addition, there were some important decisions made concerning the humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) and some coral species.
All of these decisions were made in committee and will need to be confirmed in the CoP17 plenary, but, overall, most would agree it was a pretty good day for marine fishes.