ABOUT THE ISSUE
The 16th Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES CoP16) is taking place 3-14 March 2013 in Thailand. CITES regulates the international trade in over 30,000 plants and animals with restrictions on commercial trade for species threatened with extinction. 177 countries are Parties to CITES and are expected to vote on proposals to strengthen or weaken trade restrictions on certain species at CoP16.
Proposals to increase protection for species of sharks, rays, polar bears and several reptiles popular in the pet trade are under consideration. Additionally, Parties will consider proposals related to the implementation of the Convention, including studies on the snake trade, illegal trade in cheetahs and the need for more robust analysis and inspection of captive breeding facilities. Animal welfare may be directly or indirectly impacted through proposals on transportation, conditions of captive breeding facilities, confiscation strategies for seized live animals, and the Asian snake trade.
ARRIVING AT A EU COMMON POSITION
While the EU is not a party to CITES, Member States vote according to a common position at this important meeting on wildlife trade. With 27 votes the EU plays a pivotal role influencing whether or not proposals are accepted by the 177 Parties to CITES.
The European Commission engages with the CITES Management and Scientific Authorities from EU Member States to develop the EU common position. On 6 February the European Parliament voted in favour of a non-binding resolution on the EU’s position for CoP16, including support for the U.S. proposal to ban commercial trade in polar bears. Following numerous working party meetings the Council adopted a decision on 28 February establishing the EU position, but this remained confidential as it is part of the EU’s negotiating strategy at CITES CoP16.
WHAT ARE WE CALLING FOR
Eurogroup believes that the EU as a top importer of wildlife has a serious responsibility at CITES CoP16 to take a precautionary approach towards the conservation of species subject to trade with consideration of the welfare of animals throughout the trade chain.
We commend the EU for its leadership on proposals to improve transparency in voting, address potential conflicts of interest in CITES committees and to list several shark species in the CITES appendices. We call on the EU to support proposals to address laundering of wild-caught animals as captive bred, trade in snakes and turtles including strategies for handling confiscated animals, and to end commercial trade in polar bears.
- Eurogroup’s written statement at Commission CITES stakeholder meeting
- Eurogroup’s position on key species proposals and working documents
European Parliament Documents
- Species Survival Network CITES CoP16 Digest on species proposals and working documents (English)
- Species Survival Network CITES CoP16 Digest on species proposals and working documents (French)
- Species Survival Network CITES CoP16 Digest on species proposals and working documents (Spanish)
- The Trade in South-East Asian Python Skins
- NRDC: Commercial International Trade of Polar Bears is Affecting Their Chances of Survival
- NRDC's general briefing on the polar bear