Bans on turtle and whale trade survive move to abolish them

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The Independent Online

A United Nations conference rejected proposals to lift global bans on the trade in whales and marine turtles yesterday.

Cuba had asked for permission to sell its stocks of rare hawksbill turtle shells to Japan, while Norway wanted the whale trade ban relaxed to allow the hunting and international sale of minke whales from the north-east and north Atlantic.

Both proposals needed a two-thirds majority for adoption by the 150-nation UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) but they achieved only simple majorities. The Cites meeting, held in Kenya, had rejected the proposals earlier this week, but both Cuba and Norway revived them yesterday with amendments aimed at winning broader support.

Britain also revived its proposal to protect the basking shark from unregulated trade, but that too fell short of a two-thirds majority.

The three votes came at the end of an 11-day meeting, which reviewed proposals to impose or adjust restrictions on trades in dozens of animal and plants. The most emotive issue - the fate of Africa's elephants - was resolved on Monday with a compromise deal delaying any sales of ivory for at least two years. But the other three contentious issues - whales, marine turtles and sharks - kept passions running high throughout the conference.

There has been a worldwide moratorium on whaling since 1986 and the trade in the critically endangered hawksbill and other marine turtles has been outlawed for 25 years. No sharks are protected from international trade. (Reuters)