Doha, Qatar, 13-25 March 2010

CITES CoP 15 must be seen as disappointing overall, even though there were indeed some good outcomes.

Some conservation successes include:

  • Listing of a number of threatened reptiles, amphibians and aromatic timbers in the CITES Appendices (Appendix I in the case of the Kaiser spotted newt).
  • Maintaining the position that raising tigers in captivity for trade in their parts is unacceptable.
  • Recognition of the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and its link to the emergence of a new market for rhino horn in Viet Nam – all three countries will be required to show progress in tackling the crisis over the coming three years.

However, the meeting will be remembered primarily for the failure to adopt any of the six well-merited proposals to list marine species in the Appendices.

  • A proposal to list Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, the prized fish for sashimi, in Appendix I was defeated, due to concerted opposition led by Japan, with the EU (the main driver of overfishing) equivocating. However, Atlantic Bluefin Tuna fishing nations did make strong commitments to agree conservation measures for this species in other fora.
  • Four proposals to list sharks in Appendix II that are valued for their fins and meat (hammerhead shark, oceanic whitetip shark, spiny dogfish and porbeagle) were narrowly defeated.
  • A proposal to list red and pink coral, used in the jewellery industry, was also defeated.

The outcomes regarding African elephants can best be described as mixed. While the decision not to sanction further ivory trade at this juncture was the correct one, the divisive tone of the debate on the issue – and the failure to highlight the ongoing threat from domestic ivory markets – were disappointing.

	© WWF / Martin Harvey
A black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in Zimbabwe.
© WWF / Martin Harvey
First CITES CoP in the Arab region
CoP15 was the first CITES CoP to be held in an Arab country and, for the first time, Arabic speaking delegates were able to listen and speak in their native tongue, even though it is not an official language of the Convention.

As such, the meeting was an important one in terms of the increased profile and awareness it generated for CITES in the region, which is an important market for luxury wildlife goods, such as caviar, agarwood and live falcons.

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