Thursday, 25 March 2010

CITES wrap-up

Well, the talking and voting are over, and as far as this meeting goes it was Doha equals No-ha.

Or at least it was for most of the high profile species - Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, elephants, sharks and corals.

The return, and subsequent reversal of the listing of Porbeagle at plenary was entirely predictable, but even so, it went down like the final slap in the face with a wet fish.

But amongst all the debris, there were a few successes, although you had to look fairly hard to spot them.

Probably the best was parties actually working together and committing to action to tackle the escalating rhino poaching, a renewed commitment to protect tigers and other Asian big cats from trade, and vows for action to protect the Humphead Wrasse, which has been having a very hard time in its coral reef haunts.

Enforcement efforts to tackle illegal trade also got a boost - with more resources committed and high level intergovernmental backing.

But after all the talk, lobbying, and sheer energy expended, you have to ask, were the gains really worth the effort expended? If all the resources poured into lobbying to make sure marine species weren't listed in the Convention were instead diverted to ways to support sustainable fisheries, the meeting could have made a real conservation impact. Instead, it's business as usual for most.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Porbeagle pickup

Well, the last report was premature as it turned out, becasue lo and behold, the Porbeagle shark made the grade and got listed! It was a close run thing though, as the vote went through 86 in favour to 42 against. Just one vote the other away and the poor beagle would have gone down too.

It was a secret ballot, and the Belgian delegation saved the day by pointing out their voting button didn't work - and neither did that of their neighbours the Czech Republic. The chair called for everyone to vote YES to test the system, and it came back with 7 NOs and 2 Abstentions. Work that one out if you can...

Earlier, some nifty camera work saved the blushes of two delegates who were caught kissing on camera while the Saudi delegate was speaking. The camera quickly averted its gaze and that of the watching media in the press room.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

CITES lacking bite

Well, as i write this, we're half-way through a day of disaster for sharks. This morning both the hammerhead proposal and the whitetip sharks propospals fell by the wayside. Ho hum; those were the two most pundits had down as evens at worst.

Now, we're just hearing a re-hash of the same arguments for the fourth time that'll ultimately end up with a reasonably close vote - but I wouldn't hold your breathe on it being one that's good for conservation. Nope it's Doha = Noha for this meeting.

At least there was something positive to come out of Committee meeting two, where action to tackle rhino poaching got a thumbs up, as did stronger measures to protect Humphead Wrasse; a special thanks to China for strenthening the latter, with an amendment on the need for stricter domestic measures to protect the Wrasse from illegal trade.

Elephants a no-go at CITES

Yesterday was dedicated to elephants - although none of the proposals on the table made the grade with the delegtates - indeed it was a day of frustration for many.

Closest to get over the line was Zambia's request to download its elephant population to Appendix II. However, after a prolonged discussion it failed to do so by a handful of votes. The signficance of an Appendix II listing, in case you're wondering is that it would pave the way for the country to sell its ivory at some future stage.

There is a second chance for it - and indeed for all proposals as on Thursday, we have the plenary session. This is effectively a rubber-stamping the decisions taken exercise, but as the last CITES meeting shows, it can also be a chance to bring back some of close decisions for more debate. Last time it was painful, two of the more conservation important decisions overturned. This time, we can only hope some important decisions actually make it through.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Saturday snooze

Well, it was a day off for most on the Friday / Saturday weekend, but things fully back into the fray today (Sunday).

Exciting goings on in both committee rooms, with corals shortly to come up in I and some last minute finalizations of Asian Big Cat resolutions in II.

Later, we may get round to the first of 4 shark proposals, although most here are hoping those are all tackled in one full-on day on sharks on Tuesday.

Tomorrow looks like being dedicated to elephants...nothing controversial there then.

Hot news - both the Ctenosaura (iguanas) proposals just got accepted.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Dead ducks

No prizes for guessing what grabbed all the media headlines in yesterday's action-packed day at the meeting.

Well, it wasn't the Marianas Mallard, which quietly slipped into oblivion, with not one objection raised to the proposal to delist it.

But not so the Bluefin Tuna, where you could almost cut the atmosphere with a knife in the meeting room.

The Libyan delegate held forth with a lively intervention, which ultimately led to a vote on the proposal being called. At that stage, the debate was less than an hour away from the relative safety of a working group, which could have met over the weekend and ironed out the differences between parties.

Instead, into the vote we headed. And what an outcome - a resounding defeat for the proposal.

So that's it then: days, weeks, months of lobbying all backed up by sound science.

For what - so the world can put all its faith back into a management process that has been failing for years.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The day of the triffids

Well, not quite triffids, but the day's proceedings were certainly dominated by plants, which took up most of the time in Committee 1 - where the more lively issues are generally discussed.

Meanwhile, the gearing up for tomorrow's media-extravaganza began in earnest: looking likely to come up tomorrow are Bluefin Tuna, sharks, and the EU Tiger resolution document.

Rather like London buses, you wait for a really big issue to arise, and along come at least 3 or 4 together. It could well be a long, long day...

Whether we'll actually get to the vote on some of these remains to be seen - somewhere there was talk of three hours maximum to discuss the tuna. If that isn't enough, off we go to a working group which could report at any time. Place your bets...the once thing certain is the heat will be on in Doha tomorrow.