Tag Archives: EU

EU, UK favour Dar’s ivory sale bid

EU, UK favour Dar’s ivory sale bid (Tanzania)

CATHERINE RIUNGU, East African
March 22 2010

In a surprise turn of events, Tanzania is this week likely to win its bid to sell its stockpile of ivory, estimated to be worth $15 million.

The vote on Tanzania’s proposal to be allowed to sell its ivory stockpile is due this week amid reports that the counter-proposal 20-year ban on ivory sales that has divided Kenya and Tanzania down the middle is likely to fail, partly because Britain and other members of the EU are refusing to support it.

The news that proposals to ban trade in bluefin tuna and polar bears were overwhelmingly rejected last week at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha, Qatar, prompted the Times of London to write:

“A plan for a 20-year ban on ivory sales, to protect African elephants, is also likely to fail in the coming days — partly because Britain and other members of the EU are refusing to support it. Delegates are instead expected to approve a weak compromise, which would encourage poaching by allowing the sale of ivory being stored by several African nations.”

The number of elephants lost to poaching in Kenya has quadrupled in the past two years.

Kenya is one of seven African nations proposing a 20-year moratorium on sales of stockpiled ivory, while Tanzania is among countries opposed to the ban, saying that it not only needs to dispose of its ivory stockpile, it also wants to reduce it elephant population.

A main plank of Tanzania’s argument is that it is spending $75,000 annually on security and storage of ivory.

Poaching control

Last week, a report in the Gulf News was quoted saying that the Cites secretariat has rejected Tanzania’s bid to be allowed to sell its ivory — citing concerns about control of poaching and illegal trade in ivory — but Zambia’s case to sell 22 tonnes was being considered.

Reports indicate that Cites was concerned that if given the nod, Tanzania would slip into large-scale poaching.

Britain supported a one-off sale of 105 tonnes in 2008, arguing that it would reduce poaching by satisfying demand.

But Kenya says that the one-off sales have expanded the market in China and Japan for ivory ornaments, and that this in turn has encouraged poaching.

According to the Times, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was still considering whether to support a lowering of the Cites protection for Tanzanian and Zambian elephants.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said it was disappointing that the government and European Union have not gone into this meeting with a much stronger message against the ivory trade and in favour of elephant protection.

A report by an international team of 27 scientists and conservationists concluded that previous one-off sales had contributed to a rise in poaching and failed to deliver the promised conservation benefits, resulting in “only short-term profitability to the few individuals who ran the scheme.

Tanzania and Zambia want to sell 112 tonnes of ivory, and have submitted proposals that would allow the sale to take place by reducing their elephants’ level of protection under Cites trade rules.

International trade in ivory was banned in 1989, but since then Cites has agreed several “one-off sales” of stockpiled ivory on condition that the proceeds were spent on elephant conservation.

Article at the following link:

http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/EU%20UK%20favour%20Dars%20ivory%20sale%20bid%20/-/2558/883178/-/view/printVersion/-/ytckh8z/-/index.html

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Melissa Groo
Save the Elephants News Service Researcher
For further information on elephants please see Save the Elephants’ web site
at http://www.savetheelephants.org

World votes to continue trading in species on verge of extinction

Shared via Melissa Groo

World votes to continue trading in species on verge of extinction

Ben Webster, Environment Editor, Frank Pope, Times Online
March 19, 2010

Their sheer size and strength have made them among the most celebrated of endangered species, yet they have all been betrayed — by vested interests at a UN meeting on wildlife protection.

Proposals to ban trade in bluefin tuna and polar bears were overwhelmingly rejected yesterday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha, Qatar.

A plan for a 20-year ban on ivory sales, to protect African elephants, is also likely to fail in the coming days — partly because Britain and other members of the EU are refusing to support it. Delegates are instead expected to approve a weak compromise, which would encourage poaching by allowing the sale of ivory being stored by several African nations.

Feelings were running high yesterday about the failure of measures to protect endangered tuna. Only 20 of the 120 countries at the meeting voted to ban trade in the bluefin. Intensive lobbying by Japan, which consumes 80 per cent of Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin, meant that a snap vote was held before any debate on scientific reports that show a catastrophic decline in the largest of the tuna family.

Campaigners reacted with dismay. Oliver Knowles, of Greenpeace, said: “It is an own goal by Japan. By pushing for a few more years of this luxury product it has put the future of bluefin, and the future of its own supply, at serious risk. The abject failure of governments here at Cites to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna spells disaster for its future, and sets the species on a pathway to extinction.”

France, Italy and Spain catch most of the tuna consumed by the global market. In 2009 a quota of 19,950 tonnes of tuna was set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, but many fish are caught live in nets, transferred to farms and fattened before slaughter.

Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, said: “The market for this fish is just too lucrative and the pressure from fishing interests too great for enough governments to support a truly sustainable future for the fish.”

The Cites process, which requires a two-thirds majority for a proposal to be adopted, is vulnerable to well-funded lobbying by countries and industries that depend on trade in a species. The vested interests exploit uncertainties in the estimates of population numbers, and strike backroom deals to secure the votes of developing countries where endangered species are far down the list of political priorities.

A US proposal to protect polar bears fell victim to arguments put forward by Inuit groups that their livelihoods depended on hunting the animals. The vote on protecting elephants is due on Monday, and is viewed by wildlife groups as the last opportunity to protect many of Africa’s most threatened herds.

The few remaining elephants in Sierra Leone were killed in October by poachers serving the thriving black market in ivory, which fetches up to $1,500 (£980) a kilo in the Far East. In the Zakouma National Park in Chad, poaching has cut the population from 3,885 in 2006 to only 617 last year. The number of elephants lost to poaching in Kenya has quadrupled in the past two years. Kenya is one of seven African nations proposing a 20-year moratorium on sales of stockpiled ivory.

International trade in ivory was banned in 1989, but since then Cites has agreed several “one-off sales” of stockpiled ivory on condition that the proceeds were spent on elephant conservation. Britain supported a one-off sale of 105 tonnes in 2008, arguing that it would reduce poaching by satisfying demand. But Kenya says that the one-off sales have expanded the market in China and Japan for ivory ornaments, and that this in turn has encouraged poaching.

Asian-run crime syndicates are able to pass off illegal ivory as coming from stockpiles sold with Cites approval.

Tanzania and Zambia want to sell 112 tonnes of ivory, and have submitted proposals that would allow the sale to take place by reducing their elephants’ level of protection under Cites trade rules.

Britain will join the rest of the EU in voting against Kenya’s proposal. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was still considering whether to support a lowering of the Cites protection for Tanzanian and Zambian elephants.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “We are disappointed that the UK Government, and European Union member countries as a whole, have not gone into this meeting with a much stronger message against the ivory trade and in favour of elephant protection.

“This leaves the door open to future trade, which would result in further illegal poaching.”

Nick Herbert, the Shadow Environment Secretary, said the Government should be pressing for the destruction of stockpiles of ivory. “No one proposes stockpiling seized drugs or weapons to sell for profit, and ivory should be treated in just the same way. Instead of flooding the market with more ivory and legitimising the trade these stockpiles should be destroyed. We should be choking demand for ivory, not stoking it.”

A Defra spokesman said: “The UK will not consider other sales of ivory until the effects of last year’s one-off sale of ivory, intended to reduce demand for illegal poached ivory, have been fully analysed. This will take at least a further six years.”

A report last week by an international team of 27 scientists and conservationists concluded that previous one-off sales had contributed to a rise in poaching and failed to deliver the promised conservation benefits, resulting in “only short-term profitability to the few individuals who ran the scheme”.

Article at the following link:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/earth-environment/article7067909.ece

————————————
Melissa Groo
Save the Elephants News Service Researcher
For further information on elephants please see Save the Elephants’ web site
at http://www.savetheelephants.org

European Commission, Member States Going Soft on Resumption of Ivory Trade?

Here is some elephant news just arrived from the Fondation Franz Weber

European Commission, Member States Going Soft on Resumption of Ivory Trade?

European Parliament backs total moratorium but Commission dithers

10 February 2010, Strasbourg, France, MEPs today called unequivocally for no resumption of the elephant trade. But the European Commission is being ambivalent to proposals from Tanzania and Zambia to recategorise their elephant populations to allow them to sell ivory (called “downlisting” in the relevant trade jargon). Such moves stimulate poachers seeking to exploit illicit market opportunities under cover of the legal trade.

A Resolution, adopted today, stakes out the European Parliament’s position on protection of endangered species ahead of the 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP15) to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Fauna (CITES). CoP15 takes place from 13-25 March 2010 in Doha. This issue is on the agenda for the new Commission’s first meeting on 17 February.

“In 1963 there were 1.3 million elephants in Africa. Today there are less than 500,000,” says Vera Weber of the Fondation Franz Weber, which runs a national park on behalf of the government of Togo. “If things go on at this rate, in another fifty years there will be no more wild elephants left at all. The EU must come out of the bush and support us now. The Commission needs to lead!”

A majority of African countries fear that the lack of political leadership in the Commission until now means that the EU’s position on the future of the African elephant will depend on the technocratic views of civil servants, not on the political leadership.

“This is the last call for the African elephant,” continues Ms. Weber. “For months on end there has been a huge gap in political leadership in the EU on elephant conservation. We urge newly-appointed environment and trade commissioners Potocnik and De Gucht to cut through the bureaucratic waffle and do the right thing politically – so that future generations of European kids will actually know that wild elephants still live in Africa. The EU was with us on this in 2007, where is it now?”

Any legally authorised sales of ivory (to China and Japan – the only countries in the world who continue to buy ivory) create cover for illegal trading (usually into the same two countries), thereby encouraging poachers to slaughter elephants cruelly all across Africa. In Chad’s Zakouma National Park, the elephant population grew over 20 years with EU aid to 4,800 animals by 2003. Since then poachers have decimated this population. In 2009 there were just 617 elephants left. Last month that number fell to 607 as poachers killed another ten animals for their tusks. Elephants are now extinct in Sierra Leone because of poaching. Yet Commission officials are not publicly backing the total moratorium agreed in CITES in 2007 which the EU played a decisive role in promoting.

At the CITES CoP14 meeting in the Hague in 2007, the then German Presidency of the EU was instrumental in brokering a 9-year total moratorium in elephant trade. Yet, Commission officials appear ambivalent about whether Tanzania and Zambia should be allowed to “downlist” their elephants – an initiative which is the first step towards launching trade. The moratorium started in late 2008, just after legal one-off ivory sales by Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

On the initiative of the Fondation Franz Weber, eighteen delegates from the 23-government African Elephant Coalition took the unprecedented step of visiting Brussels in late-January for a week of talks aiming to persuade the EU institutions not to agree to any downlisting. The visitors found MEPs clear and supportive, the Commission evasive and non-committal.

The European Parliament Resolution explicitly urges the Commission and Member States to reject all proposals that would result in any resumption of the African elephant ivory trade until such time as a proper assessment can be made of the impact on poaching of the November 2008 one-off sales of ivory from a number of southern African countries.

“Elephants need their tusks, the Chinese don’t. If the EU abstains on this issue in Doha, this will effectively give the green light for the resumption of the ivory trade which millions of Europeans do not want to see,” says Ms. Weber. “An historic opportunity now exists to ensure that the ivory trade is not revived – even on a limited basis – thereby helping threatened elephant populations avoid the poachers’ guns and bazookas.”

The EU must act now to protect the African elephant from extinction. The credibility of the EU presidency is at stake in the eyes of at least 23 African countries.
Ends

For more information contact Eamonn Bates in Strasbourg on +32-475 45 24 43 or Vera Weber on +41-79 210 54 04

African Elephant Coalition (AEC) members are the governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Republic of Congo and the Government of Southern Sudan. Kenya and Mali are the co-Chairs of the AEC.