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12 March 2010
Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett said Australia would support measures to improve the conservation and recovery of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and other species at the upcoming Convention of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Mr Garrett said listing of the species on Appendix II of the Convention would enable better accountability and improved fisheries management for the species to ensure sustainability into the future.
"Australia strongly believes that firm and effective fisheries management, including through international fora, offers the best means to secure populations of this species of tuna across the globe.
"Listing Atlantic Bluefin Tuna on Appendix II will help drive better conservation outcomes and management of tuna stocks through the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which listing under Appendix I would not achieve.
"Australia believes raising the conservation status of the species as a means to deliver better international fisheries management, is the best way of ensuring sustainable harvest and management of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna into the future, rather than simply banning international trade alone.
"Imposing a blanket prohibition on international trade through an Appendix I listing would undermine international fisheries management and cooperation to protect this species, and at the same time allow individual countries to continue to catch Atlantic Bluefin Tuna for domestic consumption.
"This means, for example, that because the EU is recognised as a single entity for the purposes of trade, a listing on Appendix I would place no restriction on the trade of tuna between EU members.
"Australia recognises that international efforts to improve species sustainability can lead to tough domestic decisions however strong international cooperation can deliver better global conservation efforts, and this is the position Australia will support with regards to this tuna species," Mr Garrett said.
Mr Garrett said in addition to supporting efforts to conserve Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Australia would support other strong measures at the CoP to implement global wildlife trade protection for eight shark species currently exploited on a global scale, particularly for their fins and for liver oil products.
"Australia will back international protection that promotes the survival of these sharks, which, due to good management, can be found in relatively healthy numbers in Australian waters.
"We will be backing an Appendix II listing for oceanic whitetip, spiny dogfish, porbeagle, scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, great hammerhead, sandbar and dusky sharks, which means ongoing take and international trade can continue on a scale that will not be detrimental to the survival of these species."
Australia will also be supporting proposals for increased protection for thirty-one red and pink coral species (family Coralliidae) by listing them under Appendix II.
"In line with Australia's strict domestic controls on trade in elephant products and our previous opposition to commercial trade in ivory, Australia will continue to oppose any proposals that lessen conservation measures for elephants at COP15," Mr Garrett said.
"We will also be supporting strengthened CITES regulations for tigers and other species threatened by trade such as Iran's Kaiser's Newt.
"We will continue to negotiate our position on some species at the meeting, including protection for polar bears, which are to be determined once further information is provided," Mr Garrett said.
The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is meeting in Doha, Qatar between 13 and 25 March.