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Mar 14, 2013 Governments start to rein in ivory and rhino horn trade, give sharks and timbers better protection at wildlife trade meeting
Bangkok, Thailand - A critical wildlife trade meeting closed Thursday with decisions from world governments to regulate the international trade in several species of sharks and timber, and to start taking action against countries doing little or nothing to stop the illegal ivory and rhino horn trades. Countries, on the final day of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), capped the historic two-week meeting by deciding for the first time to initiate a process requiring countries most implicated in illicit ivory trade to clamp down on smuggling. Governments mandated China, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Tanzania and Viet Nam – the countries of highest concern in terms of their failure to clamp down on large-scale illegal ivory trade - to submit time-bound plans to deal with the problem in two months, and make progress before the next CITES meeting in summer of 2014. Under CITES rules, failure by those countries to take action could lead to a compliance process potentially resulting in sanctions being initiated. The treaty allows CITES to issue a recommendation that governments taking part in the treaty stop trading with non-compliant countries in the 35,000 species covered under the convention, from orchids to crocodile skins. "After years of inaction, governments today put those countries failing to regulate the ivory trade on watch, a move that will help stem the unfettered slaughter of thousands of African elephants," said Carlos Drews, WWF's head of delegation at CITES. "The gains made to better protect species here in Bangkok are a major milestone." "But the fight to stop wildlife crime is not over," Drews said. "These countries will now be held accountable to these pledges, and must step up the urgency in dealing with the global poaching crisis that is ravaging our wildlife." The decisions to better regulate the ivory trade this week came after Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on the opening day of the meeting announced she would shut down her country's ivory markets. The prime minister's pledge came after more than 1.5 million people signed petitions by WWF, Avaaz, and actor and conservationist Leonardo DiCaprio asking her to end the trading of ivory in Thailand. Governments also extended better protection to threatened rhinos by pledging to work against organized crime syndicates that are smuggling rhino horn through the black market by increasing penalties. In addition, countries adopted a plan to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products like rhino horn, which is believed wrongly to be a miracle cure in Viet Nam. Nearly 700 South African rhinos were killed by poachers last year, and nearly 150 have died thus far in 2013. Up to 30,000 elephants are lost to poaching every year. Governments also reaffirmed the stronger protections for three species of hammerhead sharks, in addition to porbeagle sharks, oceanic whitetips, and two species of manta rays. The sharks and manta rays were listed on CITES Appendix II, seeking to regulate their international trade at sustainable levels. "This is an historic moment, where science has prevailed over politics, as sharks and manta rays are being obliterated from our oceans," Drews said. "This decision will put a major dent in the uncontrolled trade in shark meat and fins, which is rapidly destroying populations of these precious animals to feed the growing demand for luxury goods." "These timely decisions to have trade in sharks and manta rays regulated by CITES show that governments can muster the political will to keep our oceans healthy, securing food and other benefits for generations to come – and we hope to see similar action in the future to protect other commercially exploited and threatened marine species, both at the national and international level," Drews said. Negotiators also voted to ramp up trade regulations for several species of rosewood and ebony, which have been subjects of dangerous levels of illegal logging leading to deforestation, especially in Madagascar.
Mar 12, 2013 Large numbers of threatened reef fish still traded
The humphead wrasse, a tropical reef fish, is still suffering from illegal and unreported international trade despite being listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Discussions held by governments meeting in Bangkok, Thailand outlined a number of ways to help curb this problem and maintain protection of this threatened fish. "Regulating the trade throughout Asia aims to protect humphead wrasse from overfishing and encourages sustainable fishing which will ensure a future for this species." said Dr Colman O Criodain, WWF`s Policy Analyst, International Wildlife Trade. The International Union for Conservation of Nature highlighted during the meeting that wrasse are being traded online and suggested large numbers are being sold this way but are not reported so many more could be being fished illegally. Another problem is that young humphead wrasse are being taken from the wild and placed in captivity until they are big enough to sell. If this ranching style was done sustainably it could supply the fish to the Asian market without impacting the wild populations but current methods are unsustainable. Humphead wrasse was listed on Appendix II of the Convention in 2004 to regulate international trade. It is one of the most valuable fish in the live reef fish trade, and its rarity leads to higher demand and prices of up to UD$250-300/kg in China. Although centred in Hong Kong, this trade has spread to southern China and other consumer regions, including Singapore. Of particular concern is that rapid economic growth in mainland China may further intensify the demand for humphead wrasse throughout the country.
Mar 11, 2013 WWF: Five species of sharks proposed for CITES listing
Carlos Drews, head of WWF's delegation at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) issued the following statement today in response to decisions from world governments to offer better protection for five species of sharks: "This is a landmark moment showing that the world's governments support sustainable fisheries and are concerned about the reckless over-exploitation of sharks for commercial use. Today's decision will go a long way in slowing down the frenzied overfishing of sharks that is pushing them to the brink of collapse to feed the luxury goods market." "Regulating the trade of marine species like sharks, which are facing unprecedented commercial pressures, is key to saving them and ensuring our oceans contribute to food security by staying healthy and productive". "It has been shown today that governments followed the best available science to make decisions on commercially exploited marine life. We encourage governments to stick by these decisions and not reopen the debate before the end of the week – or put this victory for sharks at risk." All of the shark proposals under consideration could come up again before the CITES conference ends on Thursday. Governments at CITES voted to accept all three species of sharks today proposed for listing on to CITES appendix II, which will regulate trade in shark fin and meat. The species included: Oceanic whitetip shark vote: Yes 92 (68.7%), No 42, Abs 8 Scalloped, great and smooth hammerhead shark vote: Yes 91 (70%), No 39, Abs 8 Porbeagle shark vote: Yes 93 (70.4%), No 39, Abs 8 Shark populations are decreasing at a rapid rate across the globe with losses of up to 86 per cent in some locations. The market for shark products is first and foremost a luxury one with sharks fin selling for up to $135/kg in Hong Kong. A listing of Appendix II will regulate trade internationally reducing the risk of extinction of these species. This is not the first time that shark species have come up at CITES. Porbeagle missed out on being listed in 2010 by one vote on the last day when the proposal was re-opened.
Mar 06, 2013 The fight to save threatened sharks and rays
Forty years ago the international community decided to combat the critical issue of trading endangered species globally. In Washington the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) was born with the objective to protect wild plants and animals from the risk of extinction. To do this plants and animals can be proposed for listing on the convention`s appendices I, II and III. Successful listing either ban trade, limit it if harvesting is done within sustainable levels or help conserve them. The increased level of threat facing many of our marine species due to unsustainable fishing is being discussed here in Bangkok during the 16th Conference of the Parties of CITES. It is a chance for the 178 countries that are members of the convention to demonstrate that it can fulfil its core objective for five species of sharks, two species of manta ray and one species of sawfish. Sharks and rays are grouped together because of their anatomical similarity having skeletons of cartilage rather than bone. They are especially vulnerable to overfishing. Compared to most fish species, they take a long time to reach an age where they can reproductive and have relatively few offspring in their lifetimes. Some species such as hammerhead sharks and manta rays aggregate in large numbers at certain times of the year making themselves even more vulnerable to being fished. Because of their role as apex predators, they are the tigers of the sea, their extinction from the ocean would have profound and devastating ecological consequences. The market for shark and ray products is first and foremost a luxury one. The fins, in the case of certain shark species, are used in shark fin soup.  It`s a status symbol to include sharks fin as a standard menu item in Chinese celebratory banquets. Hammerhead shark fin is a particular favourite and has been recorded as costing as much as $135/kg in Hong Kong. The gill plates, in the case of manta rays, are used in China for a tonic soup that has become fashionable because of its perceived medicinal properties, even though it is not in the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia. This is a recent trend and has caused the demise of some population of manta ray to decrease by up to 86% in the last six to eight years. Over the years a few shark species have been listed by CITES including the whale and basking sharks, and great white shark, which has limited international trade to sustainable levels and helped reduce the threat of overfishing. Nevertheless, recent meetings have failed to adopt proposals to list more commercially important species. In 2000 proposals relating to the three largest hammerhead shark species and the oceanic whitetip shark, both of which are valued for their fins, and the porbeagle shark, which is valued for both fins and meat failed to be adopted. Hammerheads, whitetip and porbeagle sharks are up for debate again, sponsored on this occasion by a range of countries across the Americas, Europe and Africa. Meanwhile, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador are proposing that manta rays also be added to limit trade. It should be remembered that the core objective of CITES is to protect wild fauna and flora from over-exploitation through international trade. It is time that the convention fulfilled this mandate with respect to these uniquely vulnerable and iconic species. 
Feb 06, 2013 Victory as European Parliament votes for sustainable fisheries!
Strasbourg, France: After a committee vote in December that was praised by WWF as a milestone vote for sustainable fisheries, today all members of the European Parliament voted 502 to 137 in favour again of the draft report by Ulrike Rodust (S&D, DE) on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Basic Regulation, the cornerstone of the CFP reform package.
Feb 05, 2013 Stop Bankrupting Our Oceans, says WWF Director General
Dear Members of the European Parliament, Seventy five per cent of European fish stocks are overexploited and almost one third of fishing jobs in Europe have been lost in the last decade alone – the result of thirty years of mismanagement by fisheries ministers under Europe's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Feb 05, 2013 Stop bankrupting our oceans: Europe votes on the future of fish
Citizens, fishermen, industry leaders and WWF urge Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to end 30 years of ocean mismanagement and overfishing and endorse ambitious reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). For the first time MEPs have a say in CFP reform. In December last year the Parliament's Fisheries Committee voted 13 to 10 in favour of a draft report on the CFP Basic Regulation, the cornerstone of the reform package, ...
Jan 31, 2013 Great Barrier Reef Scorecard Highlights Risk to World Heritage Status
Sydney, Australia - As part of their joint Fight for the Reef campaign, WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society today released a scorecard assessing the performance of both the Queensland and Australian Governments' management of the Great Barrier Reef. Last year, UNESCO gave Australia a deadline to outline how it would better manage the Reef, noting that a failure to make 'substantial progress' would jeopardise its world heritage status.
Jan 25, 2013 WWF calls on US Government to protect and restore pristine Philippine coral reef following navy ship grounding
Washington, DC -- On January 17, a US Navy minesweeping vessel became grounded on Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park – a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best protected Marine Protected Areas in the world. Tubbataha plays host to about 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals, 14 species of sharks, 12 species of dolphins and whales plus nesting populations of seabirds and marine turtles.
Jan 24, 2013 WWF joins call for seafood traceability to fight illegal fishing
Gland, Switzerland: In a groundbreaking statement issued at this week's World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, WWF has joined private and public sector leaders in calling for a new global seafood traceability system to give consumers, businesses, and governments full access to information about marine fishing practices.
Jan 08, 2013 Trawling ban in Hong Kong waters hopes to increase fish numbers
Since 2005, WWF-Hong Kong has tirelessly campaigned for a ban on trawling in Hong Kong waters. Finally this long awaited ban came into effect on 1 January 2013. WWF sees this as a bold and encouraging step taken by the government on local marine conservation. This first-ever fisheries management measure will safeguard the diversity of marine life and ecological integrity of the Hong Kong marine environment.
Jan 02, 2013 Concerns over Arctic drilling grow as oil rig runs aground in Alaska
An oil drilling rig operated by Royal Dutch Shell ran aground on a pristine wildlife-rich island in Alaska on Monday. This came after a series of technological failures in gale force winds and high seas—driving home serious concerns of WWF about drilling in the Arctic. "This incident is a clarion call to America that the rush for Alaska's oil is dangerous and irresponsible," says Margaret Williams, managing director of the WWF-US Arctic ...
Dec 18, 2012 European Union politicians vote to stop bankrupting our oceans
Today the European Parliament's fisheries committee voted 13 to 10 in favour of the draft report on the Common Fisheries Policy Basic Regulation, the cornerstone of the Common Fisheries Policy reform package and the key to sustainable fisheries in the European Union. It was a difficult vote but all of the five WWF key asks for the Common Fisheries Policy reform were voted through on: Maximum Sustainable Yield – above MSY (BMSY) ...
Dec 14, 2012 Fisheries ministers following scientific advice only 1 out of 10 times
Brussels, Belgium: An analysis launched today by WWF shows that over the past nine years fisheries ministers have only followed scientific advice  in 13 per cent of their decisions; and set fishing quotas on average 45 per cent higher than the recommended scientific advice. This means that ministers have approved fishing of 6.2 million extra tons of fish, in addition to the scientifically proposed catch levels – this is legalised overfishing.
Dec 13, 2012 Fiji achieves first certified sustainable tuna fishery
The Fiji Albacore Tuna Longline Fishery has become the first in Fiji to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, an environmental standard to identify sustainable fisheries. This achievement, WWF says, promotes a future for tuna in the region, bringing major benefits to the fishing industry, and will result in positive impacts for consumers worldwide.
Dec 06, 2012 WWF: Bigeye tuna measures disappointing
Manila, Philippines: WWF deplores that tuna managers once again are deferring meaningful action on bigeye tuna conservation by denying effective management measures adopted at the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCFPC) meeting closing today, ultimately risking the long term security of the region's people. While the commission made positive progress on conservation measures for seabirds, whale sharks, and satellite monitoring of fishing vessels, it failed to address two of the central species ...
Dec 03, 2012 WWF calls for firm limits on tuna fisheries to address overfishing
Manila, Philippines: WWF urges the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) bringing together Pacific Island, Asian, the US, EU and other countries in their annual meeting, to adopt pragmatic rules for limiting the catch of species in the Western Central Pacific Ocean in an effort to stem overfishing occurring in the region.
Nov 26, 2012 First Indian Ocean tuna fishery certified sustainable
WWF congratulates the Maldives Pole and Line Skipjack Fishery today for becoming the first Indian Ocean tuna fishery to receive certification according to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards. WWF has been an active supporter of the Maldives aspirations for certification, as well as an active player throughout the whole assessment and accreditation process.
Nov 23, 2012 Tana River Delta Ramsar Site Status a Plus for Coastal East Africa
Conservation efforts by WWF and other environmental organizations have continued to forge ahead following Kenya designating the Tana River Delta as a Wetland of International Importance. With the Ramsar Secretariat's announcing that the Tana River Delta is now a Ramsar Site, the 163,600-hectare delta (02°27'S 040°17'E) becomes East Africa's second most important river mouth wetland after the Rufiji Delta in neighbouring Tanzania.
Nov 21, 2012 Paving the way for recovery of bluefin tuna - an example for EU fisheries reform
For the first time this year, one of the most threatened fish in the World, the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Bluefin tuna, could be now on the right road to recovery, thanks to decision makers deciding to stick to scientific advice for fishing quotas as from 2013, following ICCAT* meeting last Monday.


Regional Coordinating Unit
Dakar, Senegal
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)

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