Biodiversity & Ecosystem Management Headlines

Tonga 9th Pacific island member to sign on to Convention for Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)

17 August 2016, Apia, Samoa - The Kingdom of Tonga has demonstrated their commitment to protecting its natural biodiversity as they have taken steps to accede to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Having recently submitted their instruments of accession to the international agreement, Tonga joins the 182 Contracting Parties which seeks to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

"We congratulate Tonga on being the most recent country to join CITES, and hope that those of you with more experience in the Convention will assist and support Tonga at their first Conference of the Parties next month in Johannesburg," said Mr. Kosi Latu, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

"As some of you may be aware, the membership of CITES is lower in the Pacific islands than in most other parts of the world, and SPREP wants to encourage more of its Members to become active Parties to CITES."
 
TGVV27092009 038Humpback whale seen in Vava'u, Tonga. Photo: M.Donoghue/SPREP

The Convention is of great importance to the Pacific, as the region is a biodiversity hotspot of global importance, but where wild species and their products are widely used and traded.

Over 35,000 species of wild animals and plants are covered under CITES, including species that migrate or reside within the Pacific island region, such as all whales and dolphins, marine turtles, corals, several sharks, manta rays and orchids.

Tonga becomes the ninth member to CITES from Oceania, joining Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

"As one of the Management Authorities to CITES, this would strengthen our multi-sector collaboration with relevant sectors such as Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Tourism, and Customs to assist in combating illegal trade and over-exploitation; and support species conservation and management, as aligned to our national development plans and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements," said Lupe Matoto, Director of Environment of Tonga.

MEA 1Lupe Matoto, Director of Environment of Tonga, at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Photo: SPREP

The Kingdom of Tonga submitted their instruments of accession in June and will be an official Party to CITES by the end of October.

Tonga is one of the countries attending the Oceania and Pacific regional joint preparatory meeting for the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the associate meetings of the Parties to the Protocols of the Convention on Biological Diversity hosted at the SPREP Campus in Samoa from 15 – 19 August, 2016.

This is an initiative of CITES in partnership with the CBD and SPREP with financial support from the European Union.
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