The CITES Standing Committee suspended commercial trade in Siamese rosewood, including finished products, from Lao PDR and commercial trade in rosewood from Nigeria.
The meeting also considered the introduction from the sea of the sei whale by Japan, finding that Japan is in “clear violation of the Convention”.
The Committee produced draft decisions for consideration at CITES CoP18.
8 October 2018: The 70th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC70) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) reinforced the commitment of Parties to address issues related to the implementation of the Convention and major threats posed by illegal trade to an increasing number of species. SC70 suspended commercial trade in rosewood, African grey parrots and pangolin in specific countries, and recommended that Japan take immediate, remedial action to comply with the Convention with regard to sei whales.
SC70 convened from 1-5 October 2018, in Sochi, Russian Federation. Over 700 participants from national governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attended the meeting.
On suspensions, the SC suspended commercial trade in Siamese rosewood, including finished products, from Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), until it can be scientifically justified that such exports are sustainable. The country faces challenges in ensuring that authorized exports are legal and sustainable. Lao PDR agreed with the recommendations and committed to report on implementation by 1 February 2019. The SC also suspended commercial trade in rosewood from Nigeria until Nigeria has made a non-detriment finding for the species in the country. Nigeria had authorized exports of African rosewood to China and Viet Nam without ensuring that these exports do not threaten the species’ survival. The SC also suspended trade in African grey parrots and pangolin from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), pending compliance with the recommendations made at SC69.
On the sei whale, SC70 considered the introduction from the sea (IFS), defined as transportation into a State of specimens of any species that were taken in the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any State, of the sei whale by Japan. The CITES Secretariat noted that the population of sei whales has been adversely affected by commercial trade. Japan stated it would take immediate remedial actions to ensure that specimens are not used for primarily commercial purposes by 1 February 2019, reiterating that whale meat and blubber are used for research purposes, that whale meat is sold in agreement with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling obligations ancillary to research and that proceeds of whale meat sales are used entirely for research.
Japan’s willingness to take immediate action offered a degree of collaboration seen to be highly commendable by Parties, despite Japan’s “clear violation of the Convention.”
The SC agreed that, inter alia: the provisions of the Convention are not being effectively implemented with regard to: a) the description of the specimens introduced from the sea by Japan; b) the IFS certificates issued by the Management Authority of Japan; and c) the use of source codes in the annual reports submitted by Japan before 2016. It also agreed that IFS of certain specimens (e.g. whale meat and blubber) of sei whales from the North Pacific population was not in compliance with CITES. The SC further recommended that Japan take immediate remedial action to comply with the Convention, and requested Japan to report to the Secretariat on the implementation of its remedial actions and other relevant measures by 1 February 2019. According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB), Japan’s willingness to take immediate action and to halt all new certificates offered a degree of collaboration seen to be highly commendable by Parties, despite Japan’s “clear violation of the Convention.”
The meeting also discussed National Ivory Action Plans, Asian big cats, engagement of rural communities and harmonization of national legislation with the Convention, among other topics. On engagement of rural communities, the SC noted the report of the working group, in particular the lack of consensus at SC70 on the recommendations, and asked the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18) to the Convention to extend the mandate of the working group on how to engage rural communities in CITES processes and report to CoP19. SC70 also extended the mandate of the working group on livelihoods and food security.
Draft decisions for consideration at CoP18 include: asking Parties to submit regular updates on audited inventories of at least a third of the stockpiles; and to submit a modified use plan for consideration, approval and further guidance from the SC. Parties are also expected to consider potential new species listings, such as Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata), giraffes (Giraffa spp.), tarantulas (Poecilotheria spp.), an uplisting of Saiga antelopes (Saiga spp.), eels (Anguilla spp.) and a potential downlisting of the markhor (Capra falconeri).
The ENB highlighted a number of successes from SC70, including: the strengthening of cross-border law enforcement efforts; a greater commitment to CITES compliance by Parties in the welcoming of technical missions and committing to phase out tiger farms; greater transparency with more accurate reporting on poaching and seizure numbers; and captive breeding facilities. [IISD ENB Coverage of SC70] [IISD ENB Summary of SC70] [CITES Press Release on SC70 Outcomes] [CITES Press Release on SC70 Opening]