Department of the Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
Contact: Hugh Vickery in Washington
|October 14, 2004||
United States Pleased with Outcome of CITES Conference in Bangkok, Assistant Secretary Craig Manson Declares
(BANGKOK, Thailand) -- The United States is pleased with the outcome of the 13th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), said Assistant Secretary of the Interior Craig Manson, the head of the U.S. delegation.
"Just as we did at the last Conference of the Parties in Santiago two years ago, we were able to achieve virtually all of our objectives," Manson said. "I am particularly pleased with the passage of U.S. proposals to conserve the humphead wrasse and a variety of species of Asian yews that have been threatened by over-harvesting and commercial trade. Trade in these species will now be more strictly controlled."
The delegates also recognized
successful American conservation efforts by approving U.S. proposals
to downlist the bald eagle and peach-faced lovebird.
"The downlisting of
the bald eagle represents a true success story under CITES," said
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior David P. Smith, alternate
head of the U.S. delegation. "We are pleased that the delegates
were able to recognize the dramatic comeback of our national symbol."
On the humphead wrasse proposal, the United States -- working with the assistance of the World Conservation Union and the World Wildlife Fund -- obtained the delegates' approval to strictly control trade in this increasingly rare reef fish after narrowly failing to obtain the necessary two-thirds vote in Santiago. The wrasse is very vulnerable to overexploitation because it has a naturally low productivity and spawns at known locations at consistent dates. An adult will occupy one favored location on a reef resulting in high predictability for fisherman.
On the Asian yew proposal,
international trade restrictions passed at the conference will ensure
legal and sustainable supplies of Taxol, a breast cancer drug derived
from the tree, Manson said.
"Taxol is a vitally
important drug in the treatment of cancer," Manson said. "The
action taken by CITES nations' will help ensure this drug is available
to doctors and patients in the future."
U.S. officials held bilateral
meetings with a number of other delegations to discuss cooperation in
conserving threatened and endangered species and their habitat. Manson
met with ministers from Canada, Mexico, China, Kenya, Malaysia, Namibia,
Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State Claudia McMurray expressed U.S. support for increased international
attention to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. McMurray met with
Thai Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti to
applaud Thailand's initiative to establish a Southeast Asia regional
network on wildlife enforcement and to show U.S. support of a broader
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) companion initiative
to counter wildlife trafficking.
"The Thai and ASEAN
proposals to deter illicit trade in wildlife are important steps to
help save endangered species and the United States will look for ways
to be an active partner in these efforts," she said.
The United States also played
a pivotal role in the dialogue among range states on proposals related
to ramin (a tropical hardwood), elephants, Irawaddy dolphin, and the
great white shark, four of the high-profile species debated by the more
than 150 nations at the conference.
"We supported this proposal
as part of our President's commitment to combat illegal logging on a
global basis," Manson said.
Despite Indonesia's serious
efforts such as imposing bans on logging and export and listing the
tree on CITES' Appendix III, illegal logging continues and international
trade poses a continuing threat to this species, as well as the highly
endangered orangutan and Sumatran tiger that rely on these forests for
habitat, Manson said.
"We played an instrumental
role in the adoption of Indonesia's solution to addressing the threat
to ramin and we are gratified at this successful outcome," he said.
Ongoing efforts through President
Bush's Initiative Against Illegal Logging, the Tropical Forest Conservation
Act (TFCA) and the International Tropical Timber Organization present
opportunities to encourage and support bilateral and regional cooperation.
The President's initiative has the objective of assisting developing
countries in their efforts to combat illegal logging, including the
sale and export of illegally harvested timber, and in fighting corruption
in the forest sector. The TFCA offers eligible developing countries
options to relieve certain official debt owed the United States while
at the same time generating funds to support local tropical forest conservation
On the elephant issue, delegates
rejected two nations' proposals. Kenya had proposed a moratorium on
new proposals for any further sales for six years, while Namibia requested
approval for a new annual export quota of 2,000 kilograms of raw ivory
as well as for commercial exports of traditional ivory carvings known
as ekipas. The United States opposed both nations' proposals consistent
with its opposition to the commercial trade of ivory.
Later in the conference,
the member nations approved Namibia's amended proposal to allow only
non-commercial exports of ekipas for personal use as well as earlier
proposals to allow trade in elephant leather and hair by Namibia and
South Africa. There is no evidence that elephants are poached for their
hide or hair, and the U.S. supported these proposals.
"The United States has been one of the world's major supporters of elephant conservation and has worked closely with elephant range nations on a wide variety of conservation programs," Smith said. "Namibia should be commended for their exemplary success in the conservation of elephants and other wildlife. We firmly believe that the approval of noncommercial export of ekipas for personal use will not result in the poaching of elephants and will directly benefit local communities and craftsmen."
Here is a summary of other key issues at the conference:
Selected News Releases