Climate Change and Trade in Endangered Species (with an update on the Dolphin Trade)

This week I attended a meeting of the CITES Animals Committee and wondered whether science would trump politics when protecting endangered species from trade. I am not encouraged, but NRDC will not give up the fight.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) governs such trade and is supposed to make decisions based on science in the interest of conservation.  Yet too many times during key moments of this meeting, the delegates to the convention rejected opportunities to promote greater conservation.  Faced with evidence showing poor management of species, lack of data, quota violations, and critical need for protection, the Animals Committee too often made decisions that were the equivalent of a shoulder shrug; between the choice of demanding more from countries exporting endangered species to demanding less, the committee asked for less.

Nonetheless, there were many developments that show promise.  One of the most important developments was the institution of a working group that is going to examine how climate change issues should be incorporated into CITES decision making.  I am a member of the working group and look forward to examining how the Convention can be updated to reflect the substantial threat that species face from climate change.

NRDC at CITES Animals Committee.jpg

Finally, there is good news on the review of trade in wild dolphins from Solomon Islands. The Animals Committee agreed that the review of Solomon Islands' trade in wild dolphins should continue, allowing the committee to review expected survey data in the future and examine whether Solomon Islands' trade in dolphins is harming the species.

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