Sunday, March 28, 2010


I've been meaning to rage about the results of the recent CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) meeting for a few days now.  CITES is an international conservation agreement between (as of 2009) 175 nations that meets once every three years to discuss various protections for flora and fauna.  

The results of the most recent meeting would probably be best conveyed by the participants writing "SCREW THE OCEAN" in a snowbank with urine.  Christie Wilcox at Observations of a Nerd writes about it in a much more dignified manner than I would, but here at the main points:

-Protection/regulations for eight species of shark did not pass.  The majority of sharks being commercially caught are being taken for their dorsal fins.

I'm pretty sure these look better on sharks.

-Trade ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna failed.  Bluefin (the shining stars of sushi and sashimi) are being eaten out of existence; this is only about Atlantic stocks, Pacific stocks are in a bad way as well.  You can largely thank Japan for this one; for having such a thing for tuna, you'd think it'd be concerned about their conservation.  APPARENTLY NOT

-Trade ban on polar bear products (they count as marine mammals, hush) failed.

-Trade ban on 31 species of coral failed.  The need for coral jewelry apparently trumps corals being integral to many marine ecosystems.

I've heard that tigers made out pretty well (given some people think parts of them are good for the old E.D.), but that's small consolation.  There are a good number of resources out there that discuss all this in more detail if you're interested, but the heart of the matter is that short-term gains from trade apparently trump conservation and sustainability for many members of CITES.  

One would hope that with everybody and their grandmother howling about "sustainability" and "green" everything people would've picked up on what happens when demand exceeds supply, but this seems to be one of those things that can be conveniently compartmentalized away when the situation (PROFIT) calls for it. 

Here are some groups responding to this:

I could go into more detail (and probably will later) but it upsets me greatly that so many posts are about how this or that organism is endangered, nearly extinct (goodbye dear baiji; kind of surprising given people usually crap themselves over marine mammals.  Maybe just not weird-looking river dolphins?), has a threatened habitat, etc.

In closing, I strongly encourage all (any?) readers to do what you can in terms of supporting oceanic (and frankly all types of environmental) conservation.  If you read this thing regularly you've noticed that this blog is a way for me to share my lifelong love, fascination and enthusiasm for marine life; think of it as an exceptionally dorky love letter to the sea* that I insist on reading to everyone I meet.  It is my goal to infect others with this enthusiasm; this will become much more difficult the more damage these valuable ecosystems sustain.

*=though we're not married.  Yet.

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