Battle Over Ivory, Tuna Expected At Wildlife Meeting

Publication: Morning Edition

Author: Christopher Joyce

03/12/2010 - Wildlife experts convene next week in the city of Doha in Qatar to consider how to control the trade in rare animals and plants.

Their means to that end is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a treaty that most of the world's government have signed onto, though not always happily. Trade in elephant ivory continues to be a contentious issue. And this year sees a brand new effort to move offshore and protect some of the ocean's most charismatic — and sought-after — species: giant bluefin tuna and eight species of sharks.

CITES meets every two to three years and protects tens of thousands of plants and animals, from orchids to elephants. But fish haven't rated very highly on the CITES list. That's about to change. And Sue Lieberman of the Pew Environment Group says that's unprecedented.

"I am actually encouraged that the governments are really willing to take on these commercial fishing industries," Lieberman says, "and take on in effect something that relates to food. It's not just a curio or something like that. I think it will be very exciting."

Listen to Battle Over Ivory, Tuna Expected At Wildlife Meeting on National Public Radio's Web site.

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