The Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) concluded its 66th meeting in Geneva today by demanding urgent action from some key countries to help stem illegal trade in wildlife products such as rhino horn and ivory. A host of other measures were also endorsed that will benefit numerous endangered species including tigers, great apes and pangolins.
“This was the busiest ever CITES Standing Committee meeting and WWF is relieved that it was able to maintain the international momentum to tackle the illegal wildlife trade that has built up over recent years,” said Colman O Criodain, WWF Wildlife Trade Analyst.
CITES also addressed the laundering of wild harvested animals as captive bred. Sturgeons are among the globally threatened species that are very affected by such practices. Cases have been found of sturgeon caviar sold as captive bred that, after laboratory testing, proves to come from regions or species other than what is stated on the caviar container’s CITES label. This means it is also possible that the product was harvested from sturgeons that were not captive bred, but poached.
Nowadays, caviar for international trade is mostly produced in aquaculture, while it used to be sourced from the wild before. In light of this fact, the Standing Committee working group on sturgeons and paddlefish proposed amendments to Resolution Conf. 12.7 (Rev. CoP16). The committee proposed to draw the attention of both management and enforcement authorities to this development, as well as to the control of aquaculture facilities. The document with the proposed changes can be found here.
Romania and Bulgaria are the only countries that have breeding populations of wild sturgeons in the European Union. Although protected under CITES since 1998, fishing and illegal caviar trade and other sturgeon products continue to threaten the existence of these wild sturgeons. All caviar in international trade needs to be CITES-labeled. The label provides information on the species, its origin (wild species are marked with “W” and captive bred — with “C”), its country of origin, the year it was harvested or re-packaged, the official registration code of the processing/re-packaging company (including the country of re-packaging, if the product was imported and re-packaged), and the lot identification number/ CITES export permit number/ re-export certificate number.