Lebanonís Absence from CITES Convention Threatens its Natural Resources

Lebanon’s Absence from CITES Convention Threatens its Natural Resources
Qatar – 22 March, 2010: For the second week, the CITES Conference continues its work in the Qatari capital, Doha. Debates on a range of proposals and amendments to add or modify the classification of animal and plant species are carried, with a view to regulating the international trade in these species, or tightening their protection. Lebanon, which had not yet joined CITES, did not have a chance to defend several threatened species that have economical importance for the country, such as the Bluefin Tuna and several types of marine species in the Mediterranean Sea.
Not attend the conference; Lebanon lost the chance of defending its right and the rights of other Arab countries. For example, Egypt desperately needed support in placing the Nile Crocodiles on Appendix II of the convention, which regulates trade in the species. Participation of the global league of activists, IndyACT, in the conference constituted partial compensation for the absence of official Lebanese presence, where the organization played a role in mobilizing European and global support for the Egyptian proposal.
The Ministry of Agriculture in Lebanon has begun the accession process to CITES, but IndyACT sensed a strong need to deepen the knowledge in this Convention. The organization has noticed some confusion regarding the purpose of CITES among Lebanon’s stakeholders, who consider it related to animal welfare. The organization is concerned that some actors might try to exploit this confusion to push the Lebanese law on animal welfare under the pretext of Lebanon is implementing CITES. CITES purpose is to regulate trade in endangered animal and plant species. Illegal trade in endangered species is the third largest illegal trade in the world after arms and drug trade. "After Lebanon's joins CITES, a new law must be put in place to implement the Convention, and this law must not be confused with a law for the ethical treatment of animals; the two are completely different matters," said Soumar Dakdouk, head of conservation campaign at IndyACT.
Despite losing the battle to preserve the Bluefin Tuna in Doha, governments were able to so far to reach agreement on the protection of other endangered species. Nevertheless, few of the most important discussions that still need to take place today (Tuesday) are on the protection of several shark species that are declining steadily. 
"Discussions have been extremely heated during this conference compared to previous CITES meetings; and the reason is because many important commercial species that have been very common in the past, are now endangered", said Dakdouk. "It is clear that CITES will become one of the most important international conventions to manage the sustainable use of wildlife resources." 
For more information please contact:
- Ali Fakhry, Communication Director – IndyACT; Tel- fax: +961-1-447192; Mobile: +96171421593, email: comms@indyact.org

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