The 17th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 24 September to 5 October 2016.

CITES is an international agreement between governments that regulates international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants, to prevent trade threatening their survival. International wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually, and involves hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. This trade ranges from live animals through to tourist curios and medicines, and can heavily impact populations and bring some species close to extinction.

OceanCare has worked on CITES issues with Species Survival Network (SSN) since 1997, promoting the conservation of marine species in general and whales, dolphins, manatees, seals, sharks and polar bears in particular, through trade restrictions or bans at CITES meetings.

At this upcoming meeting OceanCare is supporting a Resolution on prohibiting, preventing and countering corruption that violates the Convention, and we are also supporting the progression of more comprehensive reporting requirements for governments.

OceanCare is urging CITES Parties to require a robust and transparent investigation into the actual conservation benefit of trophy hunting, including the flow of benefit to local communities, before progressing any further recommendations that explicitly recognise trophy hunting as being consistent with and a contribution to species conservation.

We are urging CITES to broaden its scope to include aquatic bushmeat and we are calling on CITES Parties, and the European Union in particular, to address the destructive industrial fishing practices that are wiping out fisheries in western Africa and in turn drive local communities to illegally hunt for aquatic bushmeat to provide for their protein supply.

We are also supporting greater trade restriction being given to silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), thresher sharks (Alopias spp.), devil rays (Mobula spp.), nautilus (Nautilidae spp.), Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni), and clarion angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis). We are urging CITES Parties to reject reducing the trade restriction protection on American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) and Salt-water crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).

OceanCare has developed a briefing for CITES Parties that provides greater detail of our positions and recommendations. The SSN briefing is also an important resource to consider.