March 11, 2004
CITES DUE TO REPORT ON STURGEON CONSERVATION IN THE CASPIAN SEA
see little progress; urge CITES to impose ban on beluga caviar trade
to protect imperiled beluga sturgeon
At next week's 50th meeting of the CITES Standing
Committee, the CITES Secretariat is scheduled to report on the sturgeon
conservation requirements set forth in the “Paris Agreement” of
June 2001. Under that agreement, a ban on international trade of Caspian
caviar was threatened if Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan
did not significantly improve science, management and enforcement related
to depleted sturgeon populations. The agreement's deadlines expired
on Dec. 31, 2003, and environmental organizations working to restore
the species report little apparent progress in several crucial areas.
The Caviar Emptor coalition will attend next week's
CITES meeting and will urge officials to impose a ban on trade in beluga
the obligations of the Paris Agreement have not been fully met. Caviar
Emptor, founded in 2000 to protect endangered Caspian Sea sturgeon, is
a partnership of three U.S. NGOs: SeaWeb, Natural Resources Defense Council,
and the University of Miami's Pew Institute for Ocean Science.
March 15 to Friday, March 19. According to the CITES agenda, a report
on sturgeon is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
de conférences de Genève (CICG)
Rue de Varembé 15, Geneva, Switzerland
The global caviar market has placed a premium on Caspian sturgeons,
prompting overfishing and illegal trade that have driven the ancient
species to the brink of extinction. Of most concern is beluga sturgeon,
whose population has declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years and
which scientists believe can no longer withstand fishing pressure. CITES
started regulating the caviar trade in 1998, and in 2001 as global concern
grew, CITES pushed the Caspian states to commit to sturgeon conservation.
The most important components of the CITES Paris Agreement, and the ones
where environmentalists see the least progress, are the requirements
that the states must adopt a collaborative basin-level management system
for sturgeon, increase efforts to combat illegal harvesting and illegal
trade, and establish a long-term survey program.
are meeting in Moscow this week to try to reach agreement on NEWS 2004
sturgeon catch and caviar export quotas. Early
indications are that the states will ask for a quota increase, despite
evidence of a continued downward trend in sturgeon populations.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to list beluga sturgeon
as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. If
listed, beluga caviar imports to the United States, the world's biggest
importer, would be prohibited. The Service missed its final decision
deadline of Jan. 31, 2004. Ken Stansell, the Service's assistant
director for international affairs, is also the chairman of the CITES
Standing Committee and
to attend next week's meeting.
To obtain a copy of the Paris
Agreement or for interviews with Caviar Emptor INFO policy and science
experts, contact Shannon Crownover
([email protected]) or Sunny Wu ([email protected], 202-483-9570).
For more information on the decline of Caspian sturgeon, go to www.caviaremptor.org.
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