Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

European Union: Progress on imperiled species

The EU Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety has voiced strong support for increasing protection of polar bears, manatees and other species in danger of extinction ahead of the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species next March in Bangkok.

Humane Society International Applauds Strong CITES Resolution by EU Parliament Committee

BRUSSELS (23 Jan. 2013) - Humane Society International congratulates the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety for voicing strong support for increasing protection of imperilled species such as polar bears, manatees, sharks and manta rays. The Committee adopted a firmly worded Motion for Resolution concerning the European Union's preparation for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species 16th Conference of Parties meeting, which will be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 3 - 14 March. The EU has 27 votes and votes as a bloc.

"Humane Society International is delighted that the ENVI Committee sent an unmistakable signal to the Commission and Member States that the EU needs to support various CITES proposals, particularly the one concerning the polar bear," says Joanna Swabe, Ph.D., HSI EU director. "It is imperative that the EU supports the United States' proposal to ban the international trade in polar bear products. Already threatened by climate change, pollution and increased industrial activity in the Arctic, commercial trade puts additional pressure on the species that they just don't need."


The European Parliament will vote on the Resolution during its February Plenary session. HSI urges MEPs to reject any attempts to weaken the text at the Plenary vote and urges the European Commission and Member States to pay due attention to the Parliament's position when finalising the EU's own position at the CITES CoP16 meeting.

The ENVI Committee also voiced its support for a number of other important CITES proposals.  With respect to mammals, HSI is pleased that ENVI urged the Commission and Member States to support the uplisting of the West African Manatee to CITES Appendix I, a listing that prohibits international commercial trade. This slow-reproducing species is threatened by habitat loss, fisheries by-catch, climate change, poaching and illegal trade. West African manatees are exploited for their meat, skin, genitalia and oil for use as food and traditional medicine, and are also traded live for public display. It is estimated that there are now fewer than 10,000 individuals of this species and the population decline is thought to be around 10 percent per year. 

With respect to marine species, HSI is pleased that the Committee has also urged the Commission and Member States to support proposals to list both the oceanic whitetip shark and manta rays on CITES Appendix II, a listing that provides for regulation of commercial trade.

Oceanic white tip shark populations have declined dramatically in recent years.  This species is highly vulnerable to exploitation due to its slow maturation and low reproductive capacity. Its large and distinctive fins are highly prized in Asia for the shark fin market, and the shark fin trade is largely responsible for declines in the species' population. 

Likewise, manta rays are presently suffering population declines largely as a result of the flourishing and unregulated trade in their gill rakers, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.  Manta rays are vulnerable to exploitation due to their limited reproductive capacity and because they are easy to catch as they aggregate in large numbers. Reports abound of mantas being 'gilled,' where, like shark fins, their gills are removed and the rest of the animal is discarded at sea. An Appendix II listing for manta rays will help prevent the current overexploitation and unsustainable trade.

Source: HSI 

Humane Society International and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organisations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide