Photo credits: Virtualwayfarer/Flickr
On 3 September the European Commission held in Brussels a stakeholders’ consultation meeting in preparation of the coming CITES Standing Committee meeting (Sochi, 1-5 October). Eurogroup for Animals has participated commenting documents on the management of confiscated animals, trade in African lions’ parts and whaling activities in Japan. Read below a summary of our comments:
Doc. 32. DISPOSAL OF CONFISCATED SPECIMENS
Eurogroup for Animals has participated to the intersessional working group on this issue. Several interesting and promising ideas and proposals have been debated by the working group, but a final agreement has not been reached on most of them. Particularly, concerning the creation of a list of rescue centres and a guidance on the designation of suitable rescue centres, helpful documents have been drafted by some members of the working group and deserve additional consideration. We consequently ask the EU to support the recommendation of the WG, particularly the one to form an in-session WG to try to reach an agreement and provide specific recommandations for the CoP18. As some issues will request a more in-depth discussion, it’s also important that this working group will continue to work after the CoP18.
We would like also highlight the working group’s conclusion that the biggest challenge for Parties seems to be financial constraints related to the recovery of costs of seizure and disposal. This is a critical issue also for European rescue centres. We then urge the EU to support the working group’s recommendations on the needed development and implementation of effective mechanisms to recover the costs of confiscation, custody, and disposal of confiscated specimens. But we also urge the Commission to identify concrete ways of providing adequate financing to European rescue centres, which at the moment are operating mainly thanks to private funding.
Doc 38.1, 38.2 and 38.3 ON APPROPRIATE AND ACCEPTABLE DESTINATIONS
Eurogroup for Animals urges the EU to support the three documents and particularly the doc. 38.3, submitted by Burkina Faso and Niger, recommending to limit the trade of live African elephants to in situ conservation programmes within their wild natural range, and only when such trade benefits the conservation of the source population.
Doc. 54.1 and 54.2 AFRICAN LION
Concerning documents 54.1, we are grateful to the EU for funding the TRAFFIC study on the legal and illegal trade on lions, and we support the recommendations of the Animal Committee to the Standing Committee. Particularly, we think that the EU should support the AC proposal to investigate how to monitor the illegal killing of African lions through the network of MIKE sites in Africa. This would allow for a regular collection of data while optimizing resources.
We note however that the TRAFFIC report clearly indicates that there are concerns that the recent demand for lion bone items in Asia may also have an impact on the wild lion population across its range. Exports of lions’ skeletons increased from zero in 2007 to a peak of more than one thousand in 2014. The comparison of data reported by importing and exporting countries shows huge and worrying discrepancies and reported quantities were always higher or lower from importers or exporters. This indicates that the trade is far from being well monitored, creating dangerous loopholes that are exploited for the illegal trade. In addition, the report indicates that the perception of increasing value and demand in Asia is going to lead to increased poaching. This is an additional threat for a species already endangered by killing in defence of human life and livestock, habitat loss, prey base depletion and poorly managed trophy hunting.
Concerning Doc. 54.2, we broadly support the recommendations of the intersessional working group on the African Lion, some of them very helpful. However, for the reasons mentioned above, Eurogroup for Animals considers that the suggested lion Resolution should include the recommendation for a zero quota for any trade in lion bones and other parts, from any source, including captive breeding facilities, instead of the proposed measures to better monitor such trade.
Doc. 27.3.4 – INTRODUCTION FROM THE SEA OF SEI WHALES (BALAENOPTERA BOREALIS) BY JAPAN
Eurogroup for Animals believes that this an unique opportunity to ensure a favorable outcome for sei whales and the integrity of CITES consistent with EU priorities and policy. We are grateful that the EU initiated this compliance process and for the Commission’s commitment to move the matter forward.
We would like to stress that how Standing Committee addresses this compliance issue lies at the heart of CITES; this is an egregious, long-standing and large scale violation of the treaty, by a highly developed country. If the Standing Committee fails to adopt a strong decision about Japan’s non-compliance, and the consequences it must face, it will perpetuate a growing perception of a double-standard — that CITES tolerates non-compliance by developed countries and disproportionately punishes developing nations. A finding of non- compliance and adoption of decisive compliance measures against Japan at SC70 would send the message that the EU and CITES expect a high standard of compliance from all parties. It will also demonstrate that the EU takes seriously CITES’s demand-reduction agenda and that CITES will not tolerate governments stimulating consumer demand for Appendix I products.