CITES Dateline – Bangkok, Tuesday, March 5, 2013

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U.S.  High-Level Diplomatic Push on Polar Bears  

SCI and SCI Foundation has learned that at least one country was ordered by their capital to vote in favor of the US polar bear listing proposal.  Other evidence shows that the US is using all its diplomatic assets to get votes to list the bear on Appendix I (endangered) despite the lack of scientific evidence to support their case.  SCI and SCI Foundation are working with many delegations and with Canada in particular to defeat the proposal.

Europe is Trying To Broker Polar Bear Compromise

The European Union (EU) is proposing an amendment to the U.S. polar bear proposal that would leave the bear on Appendix II but would require Canada to establish export quotas by sub-population.  SCI and SCI Foundation are not in favor of this approach.

Secret Ballot Debate Explodes

The EU and Mexico have proposed to make it more difficult to require a secret ballot in the voting process.  The secret ballot is often used by Parties to protect themselves from publicly displaying their vote on contentious issues. The sustainable use countries and other developing nations are strongly opposed because public voting makes them subject to undue pressure from animal rights groups that threaten tourism boycotts.

This morning a procedural battle erupted on the floor of the plenary session, as the countries favoring the use of the secret ballot maneuvered to make it difficult to change the current rules, which require only 10 Parties to agree in order to have a vote by secret ballot.  The issue was put off to a working group of 35 countries. They were given 24 hours to find a compromise.

Urine and Feces (REALLY!?!)

A half-hour of valuable time was spent debating whether to regulate excrement since this often contains critical genetic information and indications of dietary preferences which both are the subject of many research programs.   The decision was that excrement has no place in CITES. 

Protecting Our Work on Hunting Trophy Definition  

At the last CoP, SCI and SCI Foundation were instrumental in drafting language that was adopted as the definition of hunting trophy.  We scored a major victory in getting agreement that items manufactured from hunting trophies (boots, briefcases, etc.) were considered hunting trophies.  At this CoP, we spotted a highly technical issue that threatened to undermine our work, and SCI and SCI Foundation spoke from the floor to help defeat it.

Pressure Continues on U.S. and Other Importing Countries to Remove Barriers to Trophy Shipments 

SCI Foundation sits on a working group that has crafted a study of how countries such as the U.S. use their power under CITES to have stricter rules.  These rules block legitimate and important trade, such as the importation of cheetah and black rhino trophies into the U.S.  The study was approved to continue, against efforts from the U.S. and several other Parties to sink it.  South Africa heads the working group that oversees the study.  This is all part of a multi-front effort SCI and SCI Foundation have engaged in for years to push importing Parties into recognizing the benefits of hunting and other forms of sustainable use.

Kudos to Hunters On Argali Conservation

The representative to this meeting from the Convention on Migratory Species reported that sport hunting of argali was an important element in argali conservation.  Once again, the positive role of sport hunting gains recognition.  SCI Foundation is directly funding most, if not all, the significant scientific field work that supports argali conservation.  An action plan on argali sheep is being prepared by the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS). SCI and SCI Foundation will make sure that our research is seen by CMS and possibly incorporated into their work.

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