Countries Voting at Cop15 Ignore Scientists' Recommendations to Protect Red and Pink Corals, Bluefin
International governments failed to grant trade protection for red and pick corals (Coralliidae) used in jewelry and home décor, despite sound science showing that regulation is needed for their continued survival. Scientists and leading jewelers have called for governments to protect Coralliidae under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The vote to protect red and pink coral failed to receive the two-thirds majority needed at the 15th Conference of Parties of CITES (64 countries voted in favor, 59 against and 10 abstained), and comes just three days after a proposal to protect bluefin tuna was overwhelmingly defeated by delegates after intensive lobbying by fishing interests.
The sought-after Appendix II listing for Coralliidae would have required countries wishing to export these species to prove that trade is not harming their continued survival. Trade in red and pink coral will now continue unchecked, with no guarantee as to its sustainability or the industries that depend on this resource. The United States and European Union, which put forward the proposal, have the opportunity to bring the issue back to a plenary vote on Thursday March 25, but it is unclear whether or not this will happen.
For the second time in three days, governments have put short-term political and economic interests ahead of sound science—first with bluefin tuna and now with red and pink coral," said Kristian Teleki, vice president of science initiatives for SeaWeb. "Coralliidae are in desperate need of a mechanism that controls the immense trade in these species. CITES could have provided that, but today the representatives failed to heed the science showing these populations are in steep decline. It is now up to the jewelry and design industries, and their customers, to act where governments have failed." SeaWeb's Too Precious to Wear campaign is calling on jewelers and designers to refuse to use or purchase red and pink coral until sound management is in place and populations of these long-lived, slow growing species have recovered.
Conservationists have decried the decisions at the Doha CoP, with bluefin tuna and now red and pink corals failing to receive trade protection, despite showing clear populations declines due to overfishing. Protection for eight species of sharks will be voted on in the coming days.
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