Whereas in 1999 two proposals were presented to the CITES Secretariat to downlist hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) encountered in Cuban waters from Appendix I (where international trade is banned) to Appendix II (where international trade is permitted), for the purpose of re-opening international commercial trade in hawksbill products, namely tortoise shell;
Whereas these proposals will be voted upon at the next CITES Conference of Parties in April, 2000 in Nairobi, Kenya;
Whereas in 1975 and 1977, respectively, the Atlantic and later the Pacific populations of hawksbill sea turtles were listed in Appendix I of CITES;
Whereas in 1996 the IUCN reclassified the hawksbill sea turtle from Endangered to Critically Endangered on the international Red List of Threatened Animals;
Whereas during the 1997 CITES Conference of the Parties in Harare, Zimbabwe, the IUCN reclassification was challenged;
Whereas in 1999 the IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group reviewed the reclassification and concluded that the hawksbill sea turtle does meet the IUCN Red List criteria for a Critically Endangered species on the basis of global population declines of 80% or more during the last three generations (105 years) and projected declines over the next three generations;
Whereas the Justification for the reclassification (published in the peer-reviewed Journal, Chelonian Conservation and Biology) concurs with the conclusion of a global review sponsored by CITES of the status of hawksbills (Groombridge and Luxmoore, 1989) that hawksbill populations are depleted or declining in 56 of 65 geopolitical units for which some information on nesting density was available;
Whereas the Justification for the reclassification reports hawksbill populations to be depleted or declining in 22 of 26 geopolitical units in the Caribbean Region, for which some status and trend information is available;
Whereas only five regional populations remain with more than 1000 females nesting annually (Seychelles, Mexico, Indonesia and two in Australia);
Whereas overexploitation, habitat destruction and illegal trade are the major causes of reported population declines;
Whereas international trade has been identified as the principal cause for the endangered status of the hawksbill;
Whereas there is no indication that serious and pervasive threats to coral reefs and other critical habitat in the Caribbean Region have been reduced;
Whereas hawksbills on foraging grounds in Cuba have been shown by genetic studies to be derived in many cases from nesting beaches elsewhere in the Caribbean, and harvest in Cuba is therefore likely to undermine the conservation efforts of those countries; and
Whereas the hawksbill sea turtle still meets the CITES biological criteria for inclusion in CITES Appendix I (see Annex 1);
It is resolved by this Symposium that:
The hawksbill sea turtle is a Critically Endangered species that has lost more than 80% of its population worldwide;
The hawksbill population is depleted or declining in the great majority of the geopolitical units in the Caribbean region;
The hawksbill sea turtle meets the criteria for inclusion in CITES Appendix I;
Re-opening international commercial trade in hawksbill products may threaten the recovery of depleted or declining populations of hawksbills worldwide, by encouraging stockpiling of products in the hope of selling them legally or illegally in the future; and
The CITES Secretariat be asked to distribute this resolution to all CITES Parties.
CITES Biological Criteria for Appendix I
A species is considered to be threatened with extinction if it meets, or is likely to meet, at least one of the following criteria.
A. The wild population is small, and is characterized by at least one of the following:
i) an observed, inferred or projected decline in the number of individuals or the area and quality of habitat; or
ii) each sub-population being very small; or
iii) a majority of individuals, during one or more life-history phases, being concentrated in one sub-population; or
iv) large short-term fluctuations in the number of individuals; or
v) a high vulnerability due to the species’ biology or behaviour (including migration).
B. The wild population has a restricted area of distribution and is characterized by at least one of the following:
i) fragmentation or occurrence at very few locations; or
ii) large fluctuations in the area of distribution or the number of sub-populations; or
iii) a high vulnerability due to the species’ biology or behaviour (including migration) ; or.
iv) an observed, inferred or projected decrease in any one of the following:
– the area of distribution; or
– the number of sub-populations; or
– the number of individuals; or
– the area or quality of habitat; or
– reproductive potential.
C. A decline in the number of individuals in the wild, which has been either:
i) observed as ongoing or as having occurred in the past (but with a potential to resume) ; or
ii) inferred or projected on the basis of any one of the following:
– a decrease in area or quality of habitat; or
– levels or patterns of exploitation; or
– threats from extrinsic factors such as the effects of pathogens, competitors, parasites, predators, hybridization, introduced species and the effects of toxins and pollutants; or
– decreasing reproductive potential.
D. The status of the species is such that if the species is not included in Appendix I, it is likely to satisfy one or more of the above criteria within a period of five years.
The “20th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation” convened at the Delta Orlando Resort Hotel (Orlando, Florida) from 29 February – 3 March 2000. The Symposium was attended by representatives of the scientific community from 67 nations around the world. Registered participants are referred to as “the membership.”