CITES Proposes Control of Pink Coral Trade, YahooNews, 02/28/07
GENEVA (AFP) - Pink coral, cedar trees, types of fish eaten in Europe and a cuddly, wide-eyed mammal that is prized in Asian medicine are among the animal and plant species that could gain greater protection this year, a UN agency said Wednesday.
The United Nations agency regulating the trade in endangered species, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), unveiled some 40 new government proposals for changes to wildlife trade rules which will be considered at the organisation's conference in June.
The agency said many international concern about the accelerating destruction of the world's marine and forest resources through overfishing and excessive logging.
"Biological diversity faces many threats, ranging from habitat destruction to climate change to unrestrained commercial harvesting for trade," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, which administers CITES.
Potentially the most endearing candidate for a complete ban trade is the Slow Loris, a small furry nocturnal primate from south and southeast Asia.
Cambodia, which is sponsoring full protection under CITES Appendix I, says the Loris is threatened by a combination of the destruction of its forest habitat and growing demand for traditional medicine and as a pet.
The requests also include an attempt by the United States to control the trade in pink coral for the first time, because of the overexploitation of tropical coral reefs which have been rendered fragile and bleached by climate change.
The pink variety of the polyp has been prized in jewellery and for decoration for 5,000 years.
"Extensive deforestation" of the cedar tree in South and central America, is prompting the European Union to seek trade restrictions under Appendix II for the species, which is valued for its insect and rot resistant wood.
The EU also wants the trade in the European eels, a popular food in coastal areas of northern Europe, and the spiny dogfish, a type of shark prized in fish and chip shops, to be subject to a permit system and fisheries management, CITES said.
Germany, which currently holds the European Union presidency, said the spiny dogfish was vulnerable because of its tendency to travel in large schools that are easily trawled by fishing boats and its slow reproductive rate.
Meanwhile European eel stocks have declined "dramatically" due to overfishing according to CITES.
Other fish species up for protection due to overexploitation include Brazilian lobsters, while several countries want complete halt in trade in the sawfish, a favourite for traditional medicine.
A popular item in home aquariums, the striking tropical Bangai cardinal fish, is also a candidate for listing, because about 700,000 to 900,000 of them are collected every year.