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Thailand declines to back shark proposal at CITES meeting
www.chinaview.cn 2004-10-07 14:06:07

    BANGKOK, Oct. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Thailand has refused to support a proposal at the ongoing CITES meeting to strict the trade in greatwhite sharks due to concern over the possible adverse effect on its shark fin industry, local press reported here on Thursday.

    Strengthening shark conservation regulations would adversely affect Thailand's shark fin trade, Department of Fisheries deputy director-general Jaranthada Karnasuta was quoted by the Bangkok Post newspaper as saying.

    He added Thailand is a shark fin-consuming country, and tightening shark conservation regulation could obstruct the fisheries industry.

    The proposal, raised by Australia and Madagascar to list the great white shark on Appendix II of CITES, is scheduled to be discussed and voted on next Wednesday.

    Species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are divided into three categories based on the degree of protection they need.     

    Jaranthada said Bangkok would abstain or vote against the transfer of the great white shark from appendix III to appendix II,under which international trade in listed species must be strictly controlled.

    Undoubtedly, the decision has drawn opposition and criticism from international and Thai conservation groups.

    "Thailand's reputation on wildlife protection will be damaged if the government stands on such a pro-consumption position," said Ichthyologist Chavalit Vithayanon, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Thailand.

    He also lashed out the fisheries department for being too concerned with the economic side of the wildlife trade.

    Carroll Muffett, director of US-based Defenders of Wildlife's International Program, said the population of sharks is in declineas they are hunted for international trade. He urged the government to reverse its position and support the conservation of endangered sharks.

    Also on Wednesday, another proposal was tabled calling for moreprotection to Asian turtles.

    China, one of the largest consumers of turtles, revealed that it was trying to raising public awareness of the importance of wildlife protection in a bid to save the species from extinction.

    "We have campaigns not only for turtles, but all protected wildlife," said Fan Zhiyong, director of China's fauna division ofCITES Management Authority.

    Now it is not easy to find wildlife products in Chinese market as it was several years ago, he added.

    In 1999, law enforcement officials and experts in many Asian countries have jointly conducted a survey on Asian turtles.

    They found that there were about 90 species of turtles, however,half of them were facing extinction, said tortoise and freshwater turtle specialist Peter Paul van Dijk, deputy chairmen of the World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission.

    Indonesia and the United States meanwhile are calling for five species of Asian freshwater turtles to be put on the internationaltrade control list of CITES.

    Entering into force in 1975, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and Flora (CITES) is regarded as one of the most effective of all international wildlife conservation treaties.

    The first to be held in Southeast Asia, the 13th Meeting of theConference of the Parties to CITES will see debate leading up to decisions on about 50 proposals for amendments to the existing CITES regulations. Enditem

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