Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Tom Bauer in Bangkok
October 8, 2004
Assistant Secretary Manson Seeks Support of China For Proposal to Conserve Irrawaddy Dolphin

(BANGKOK, Thailand) -- Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Craig Manson sought the support of China in increasing international trade restrictions for the Irrawaddy dolphin and other Asian species during meetings with Zhao Xuemin, vice administrator of China's State Forestry Administration earlier this week.

The meeting occurred at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a 166-nation treaty that regulates trade of threatened and endangered species among nations.

Manson and Zhao also discussed cooperation between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service and their counterpart agencies in China as well as on conservation and enforcement of wildlife laws on a regional and global basis.

"The United States and China have a long history of cooperation in wildlife management on issues such as panda conservation; large lake fishery habitat restoration; CITES implementation, inspection, and enforcement; and wetlands restoration," said Manson, who is heading the U.S. delegation to CITES. "We had a positive discussion on how to build on this cooperation in the future."

Manson raised the question of transferring the Irrawaddy dolphin from Appendix II to Appendix I of the CITES convention. The dolphin, commonly found in shallow tropical estuaries and bays in Southeast Asia, is unusual because it can live in both fresh and salty water. Populations of the species are being depleted by entanglements in fishing nets and capture for live sale to aquariums.

"Based on our conversation," Manson said, "I'm hopeful the Chinese can support the listing of the Irrawaddy dolphin."

The United States is supporting this proposal by Thailand based on an International Whaling Commission report that densities of the dolphin appear to be low in most areas and several populations are believed to be seriously depleted.
A CITES-regulated species may be included in one of three appendices to the Convention.

  • Appendix I includes species where it is determined that any commercial trade is detrimental to the survival of the species. Therefore, no commercial trade is allowed in Appendix I species. Noncommercial trade in such species is allowed if it does not jeopardize the species' survival in the wild. Permits are required for the exportation and importation of Appendix I species.
  • Appendix II includes species where it has been determined that commercial trade may be detrimental to the survival of the species if that trade is not strictly controlled. Trade in these species is regulated through the use of export permits.
  • Appendix III includes species where there is some question as to the potential negative impact of commercial trade. Permits are used to monitor trade in native species. Any member may place a native species on Appendix III.

Any listing of a species in either Appendix I or II requires approval by two-thirds of the CITES party countries.

The United States has also submitted proposals to protect three Asian turtle species, the painted bunting (a North American songbird), and the humphead wrasse (a coral reef fish).




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