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Cablegate: South Africa's Response to U.S. Cites Proposals

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RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHRN RUEHSL RUEHTRO
DE RUEHSA #0339 0491411
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181411Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1277
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN PRIORITY 7589
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN PRIORITY 1653
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG PRIORITY 9942

UNCLAS PRETORIA 000339

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

OES/ENRC FOR LLOYD GAMBLE; AF/S FOR SUSAN WALKE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV AORC CITES KSCA UNEP
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA'S RESPONSE TO U.S. CITES PROPOSALS

REF: STATE 06668

1. (U) Environment, Science and Technology Officer
delivered reftel points on U.S. CITES proposals to Elise
Haber, Deputy Director for Conservation in the Department of
International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and Sonja
Meintjes, Deputy Director for Biodiversity Compliance in the
Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA) on
February 3. EST Officer and SAG officials discussed each of
the U.S. proposals and the SAG followed up with written
responses to U.S. questions, summarized below. Please note
that the South African responses are not final official
positions; they are preliminary views on the U.S. proposals.

2. (U) TEXT OF SOUTH AFRICAN RESPONSE

-- Sharks. South Africa recognizes that the over
exploitation of some marine species for commercial fisheries
is becoming a serious problem; however sharks are protected
in South African waters under the Marine Living Resources Act
which prohibits the commercial fishing of sharks. South
Africa is sympathetic to the U.S. proposals, however we are
concerned that the proposal as it stands contains elements
that should be dealt with by the various fisheries bodies of
the FAO and that U.S. concerns are not necessarily trade
issues that would fall under CITES.

-- Corals. South Africa acknowledges that international
trade in pink and red corals could eventually have a negative
impact on the survival of the species in the wild if the
trade is not properly monitored. South Africa is sympathetic
toward this proposal and will base its decision on the
information supplied in the proposal.

-- Transfer of Polar Bear from CITES Appendix II to Appendix
I. South Africa believes that the polar bear does not meet
the biological criteria for inclusion in Appendix I. South
Africa supports the principle of sustainable use of natural
resources as is practiced in Canada where aboriginal people
are allowed to benefit from the sustainable trade in polar
bears. An Appendix I listing might affect this sustainable
trade negatively, and this will have a negative impact on the
livelihoods of the aboriginal people. South Africa shares
the concerns of the U.S. regarding the shrinkage of polar
bear habitat, but we are not convinced that this contributes
to an increase in international trade in polar bear products.

-- Deletion of Bobcat from Appendix II. South Africa has
previously supported the U.S. proposal on the bobcat (at
COP-14), but the proposal was not accepted by the Parties due
to the identification and look-alike problem of skins in
trade. South Africa notes that the U.S. has worked on the
identification issue and will most likely support the
proposal to delete the bobcat from CITES Appendix II.

-- Snake Trade and Conservation Management. South Africa will
support the U.S. proposal for a snake trade workshop
especially since the workshop will be sponsored by the U.S.
and will thus not have financial implications for the
Secretariat.

END TEXT OF SOUTH AFRICAN RESPONSE.

3. (U) The South African delegation to CITES COP-15 has not
been finalized and is currently pending ministerial approval.
Confirmed delegation members at this time include Ms. Sonja
Meintjes of DWEA/CITES Management Authority
(smeintjes@deat.gov.za) and Ms. Elise Haber of DIRCO
(habere@foreign.gov.za).
GIPS
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