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CITES meeting rejects protection for marine species

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Qatar rejected protection for marine species, including sharks, bluefin tuna, and coral, disappointing the US, environmentalists, and marine scientists.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Doha, Qatar, which ended Thursday, rejected a trade ban on red coral, pictured in a close-up,

NEWSCOM/file

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Endangered sharks got short shrift. So did coral – and bluefin tuna, too.

That was a big letdown for US representatives and environmentalists who attended the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Doha, Qatar, which wrapped up Thursday. Several say they came with high hopes that several species were a lock to be "listed" (protected), but are leaving with nothing.

Nations in attendance soundly rejected international trade restrictions aimed at protecting six shark species, 31 types of coral, and the Atlantic bluefin tuna from extinction, leading to questions as to whether another mechanism besides CITES is needed for protecting economically valuable, but vulnerable marine animals.

IN PICTURES: CITES conference fails to protect any threatened marine species

"This meeting has been a complete disaster for the oceans," says Elizabeth Griffin, a marine scientist and fisheries campaign manager for Oceana, an environmental group, who spoke in a phone interview from Doha. "I question if CITES has the political will to protect economically valuable marine species like sharks. Scientific support for listing these shark species just couldn’t compete with dirty politics."

But others say that CITES, which meets every 2-1/2 years or so, is still the last best hope for globally endangered species, which is roughly the international equivalent of the United States' Endangered Species Act.

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