Int’l gathering in Panama to weigh greater protection for endangered species

Panama City, Nov 10 (EFE).- Representatives of countries from around the world will consider proposals for boosting protections for endangered plant and animal species at a conference this month in Panama’s capital.

In addition to 2,500 representatives of the 183 countries that are parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), other attendees at this gathering at Panama City’s Panama Convention Center will include senior officials from the United Nations Environment Programme and representatives of international organizations and NGOs focused on environmental issues.

The participants in this latest meeting, to be held from Nov. 14-25 and known as COP19, will debate 52 proposals for amending the Convention’s Appendix 1, which includes species threatened with extinction and for which the highest level of CITES protection is afforded, and Appendix II, made up of species that are not yet in danger of extinction but could fall into that category.

Panama has proposed offering protection to a total of 54 shark species worldwide by including them in Appendix II, arguing that they are being threatened by unsustainable, unregulated fishing and a global trade in their fins and meat.

Proposal 37, which would provide protection to 19 sharks from the Carcharhinidae family (requiem sharks), was authored by Panama and has the backing of Bangladesh, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, the European Union and other parties.

“It’s the proposal that received the most backing prior to the COP,” Juan Manuel Posada, science director at Panama’s MarViva Foundation, told Efe.

All of the species included in that proposal have been assessed as endangered or critically endangered under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with most populations facing rapid recent declines of 70 percent or more, and some populations suffering near 100 percent depletions.

Panama also is a supporter of two other proposals that aim to ensure that international trade in sharks and sting rays can only lawfully occur if such export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species – a determination known as a ‘non-detriment finding,’ or NDF.

“CITES does not prohibit trade activity, but it restricts it to guarantee resource sustainability,” Posada said.



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