CITES and International Agreement on Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels: briefing


29 October 2002
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

29 October 2002

: Ms G Mahlangu

Documents handed out
CITES Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels
Birdlife South Africa briefing (Appendix 1)
Information Services: Research Cites Agreement on Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (Appendix 2)
Explanatory Memorandum: South African Signature of Agreement on Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (Document awaited)
The African Elephant - A South African Perspective - Slide Presentation
CITES and the African elephant
South Africa, CITES and the African elephant
South Africa and CITES: Sustainable use of biological resources


Department of Environmental Affairs and tourism informed the Committee with on the sale of elephant hides and ivory of Kruger park. Birdlife International sought the committee's approval on the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels.

Mr P.Botha , an official with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism clarified what was termed the 'Elephant proposal' which was a management programme since 1967.
The proposal was that as there was a high population of elephants in Kruger park, the sale of hides and ivory would not be beneficial to the park. He confirmed that other Southern African countries such as Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia were already in the process of this trade. Zimbabwe had Japan as a major market for the sale of its ivory.

However,this proposal was met with some opposition at the CITES meeting in Nairobi where India and Kenya were of the opinion that the elephant issue should be transferred to Appendix II (please refer to document) which contains animals on the brink of extinction and thus needing preservation. Both countries were against the trade of elephant ivory but not so opposed to the trade in their hides. The transfer to Appendix II was not allowed.

MIKE, the Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants was also opposed to South Africa's proposal. It proposed an 18 month delay before opening of the trade.

Mr Botha explained that there was an overpopulation of elephants at Kruger park and this affected its bio-diversity. He stated that the elephant fed on the leaves of the baobab tree,yet most birds nested in these trees.

He gave an outline of various actions and projects of the Department.
In March 2002,on the department's invitation and initiative, twelve European Union parliamentarians visited Kruger Park . The department also had various exchange visits with french speaking african countries. In October,the department met with members of some Carribean and South American countries. Though the Carribean countries supported the proposal,most of the South American countries felt that South Africa had double standards as far as preservation and conservation matters were concerned .They were referring to the controversial South African whale position.

Ms Chalmers (ANC) a committee member was concerned about the broadening of the boundaries of Kruger Park.She enquired whether poaching would not result as a consequence.

Mr Botha stated that there was no coaching at all at Kruger National park and that the Park itself had security measures to deal with such occurrences.

Ms Ndzanga (ANC) inquired about the the communities surrounding Kruger park and whether they would benefit from the trade of ivory and hides. Were they educated on the value of elephants?

Mr Botha replied that environmental education to the surrounding communities of Kruger did take place.The revenue however from the trade was to be used to cure crop danger and control disease . There was thus no direct benefit in cash.

Ms Chalmers asked about the South African position at CITES on the Australian proposal to list the Pantagonian toothfish as an endangered specie.

Mr Botha stated that South Africa felt that CCAMLR, FAO and other regional organisations were better equipped to implement this issue and CITES was not able to do the task. .South Africa would therefore not support Australia and was more concerned with terrestrial animals at this point.

This elicited a comment from an official of TRAFIC who stated that South.Africa's position here was dangerous as it used to have a high population of toothfish but now the toothfish in the Edward islands were commercially extinct. He felt CITES had a role to play in collaboration with CCAMLR.

Mr September (ANC) enquired about the present stocks of ivory at Kruger.

Mr Botha informed him that it was 32 tonnes.

Mr Viljoen, Birdlife
Mr Viljoen gave a brief synopsis on the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. He stated that South Africa ,being the fourth highest breeding country for these birds,had every reason to protect them and if it were to ratify the Agreement,would be the first developing country to do so. He stated that the remaining work was administrative: to obtain approval of the committee who would put it before the National Assembly.

The Committee unanimously approved the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. It would be put to the National Assembly.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1
Parliamentary briefing
BirdLife International's Seabird Programme
29 October 2002
Background to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels (ACAP)
Bonn Convention (CMS)
The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels resides under the guidance of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or the Bonn Convention). The Convention aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. The Convention is one of only a few intergovernmental treaties concerned with the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitats on a global scale. Since the Convention's entry into force on 1 November 1983, its membership has grown steadily to include 79 (as of 1 February 2002) Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
Parties to CMS work together to conserve migratory species and their habitats by providing strict protection for the endangered migratory species listed in Appendix I of the Convention;

by concluding multilateral Agreements for the conservation and management of migratory species listed in Appendix II and;
by undertaking co-operative research activities.
CMS has a unique role to play in focusing attention on and addressing the conservation needs of the 85 endangered species presently listed in Appendix I - including, among others, the Siberian crane, White-tailed eagle, Hawksbill turtle, Mediterranean monk seal and Dama gazelle.
Appendix II lists migratory species that require or would benefit significantly from international co-operative Agreements under CMS. These may range from legally binding treaties to less formal memoranda of understanding. The more formal Agreements should provide for co-ordinated species conservation and management plans; conservation and restoration of habitat; control of factors impeding migration; co-operative research and monitoring; and public education and exchange of information among Parties
The ACAP countries
Argentina Australia
Brazil Chile
China Ecuador
European Union France
Germany Indonesia
Japan Republic of Korea
Namibia New Zealand
Norway Peru
Poland Portugal
Russian Federation Republic of South Africa
Spain Ukraine
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United States of America Uruguay
The present status of the Agreement

After the successful and speedy conclusion of the negotiations of the Albatross Agreement under the CMS, a signing was conducted on 19 June 2001 in Canberra, Australia. The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels was established to address the threats posed to albatross and petrel populations by by-catch in long-line fisheries, a sense of urgency existed due to the significant numbers of birds being lost each year.  Under this Agreement 21 Albatross species and 7 Petrel species will be protected.

Australia offered to continue as Interim Secretariat functions until the final location of the Permanent Secretariat is decided at the first Meeting of the Parties.
Seven nations signed an historic agreement in June 2001, committing their governments to an international effort to protect albatrosses and petrels, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere.
The signatories in June 2001 were:
Australia Brazil
Chile France
New Zealand Peru
Ukraine (with reservation to ratification)
The agreement has yet to be officially entered into force as not all the signatories have ratified the agreement.
Since June 2002, Argentina, Japan, South Africa, and the United States have also pledged support as signatories, but have not yet officially done so. Spain however has signed ACAP.
Key considerations in the Agreement
Data analysis
The agreement will provide a central point for the collection and analysis of data, allowing for a complete picture to be built of albatross and petrel populations globally.
International advisory committee
The Agreement establishes an international advisory committee to report annually on the status, progress, and techniques used to mitigate threats to albatrosses and petrels and to protect albatross and petrel habitats.
These Agreements are limited in terms of either geographic focus; species focus or through their primary focus on habitat
The CMS is unique in terms of its focus on migratory species themselves and particularly those under threat. The proposed albatross and petrel Agreement suggest actions specifically relating to international conservation efforts relating to these species.
Becoming party to this Agreement will enable the various governments to take steps to ensure that albatross and petrel species are protected in areas that are not within their jurisdiction
Benefits of becoming party to the Albatross and Petrel Agreement
Governments, through signature and ratification of ACAP will see the following benefits from ACAP:
Improved conservation efforts globally;
Eco-tourism benefits around key species such as the Wandering Albatross;
Protection for species beyond the EEZ through range states;
Recognition for countries as conservation leaders;
Improved information and technology access through the Agreement.
Obligations under the Agreement
The basic objective of the Agreement is to achieve and maintain a favourable (i.e. improved) conservation status for albatross and petrel species throughout their range. In order to achieve this, parties to the Agreement shall take a range of conservation, monitoring and information based measures, both individually and collectively. The measures ate specified in an action plan appended to the Agreement. Measures include:
Species conservation - prohibiting trade and re-establishing populations in their traditional breeding ranges
Habitat conservation and restoration - preventing introduction of non-native flora and fauna to seabird habitats, eradicating introduced flora and fauna from current habitats, ensuring the sustainability of food sources for seabird species
Management of human activities - assessing impacts of policies plans or programmes, on albatross and petrel population status; providing advice to fisheries agreements on options for reducing seabird bycatch; taking actions through shipping and other international agreements to reduce the impacts on albatross and petrel species of marine pollutants and debris; minimising human disturbance of albatross and petrel populations arising from eco-tourism
Research and monitoring - developing a cooperative research and monitoring programme amongst parties to the agreement; assisting with the design of at sea observation in parties to the agreement where at sea observation is minimal or non-existing
Collation and sharing of information on albatross and petrel species - assessment and review of their conservation status; breeding sites; foraging range; identification and assessment of threats and threat mitigation options; effectiveness of conservation initiatives.
Education and public awareness - provision of information to local communities and the public in general about the status of albatross and petrels and the threats they face; development and where practical, provision of training programmes to ensure relevant personnel and the required knowledge.
Costs to become a member of ACAP
Countries will have a financial obligation to the Secretariat. Costs associated with financial obligation will be discussed at the first meeting of the Parties. Members will debate the future contributions to ACAP according to the UN scale of contributions. At present all costs to date were covered by the Australian government.

Appendix 2
28 October 2002


This paper examines two international agreements within a global context, viz. the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. In addition, the implications of these agreements for South Africa are considered.

What is CITES?
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of the World Conservation Union. The text of the Convention was finally agreed upon at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in 1973. In 1975, CITES entered into force.

CITES is an international agreement between governments, which aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. It is, moreover, an agreement to which signatories adhere voluntarily. CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls, mainly in the form of a licensing system. Approximately 5 000 species of animals and 25 000 species of plants are protected against over-exploitation through international trade. These species are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need. They include some whole groups, such as primates, sea turtles, parrots and orchids, but in some cases, only a subspecies or a geographically separate population of a species is listed. The Appendix categories are as follows:

Appendix 1 includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
Appendix 11 includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.

Appendix 111 contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES signatories for assistance in controlling the trade.

South Africa became a signatory to CITES in 1975. Approximately 230 animal species indigenous to South Africa are included in the two appendices. Typical species are:

Appendix 1 - leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and cycads
Appendix 11 - lion, bontebok, baboons, crocodiles and aloe species.

In recent years, however, South Africa has been getting into increasing conflict with other CITES signatories over its position on the sale of its ivory stocks. South Africa's position is that its elephant population should be downlisted from Appendix 1 to Appendix 11, on the grounds that the stability of the well-managed (and growing) South African population of the African elephant, does not warrant inclusion in Appendix 1. This stance is being opposed by Kenya and India, who are strongly supported by many Northern countries, on the grounds that any such downlisting will result in higher levels of poaching.

South Africa is currently preparing a proposal to be presented at the forthcoming CITES conference, which would allow it to sell 30 tons of the Kruger National Park's ivory stocks. South Africa will also propose that it be allowed to sell two tons of ivory per year, using ivory from elephants which have died naturally in the park. South Africa, together with four other Southern African countries (viz. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia), hopes to use the revenue from the legal sale of ivory in the management of its conservation areas.

Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels
The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) is aimed at minimising the harm caused to threatened and rapidly declining pelagic seabirds such as albatrosses and petrels by commercial activities such as longline fishing in the Southern Ocean. Scientists estimate that about a quarter of a million seabirds, including albatrosses and petrels, have died during the period 1999 - 2001, due to the fishing practices of Southern Hemisphere countries.

ACAP is based on the recognition that, because albatrosses and petrels are susceptible to threats operating throughout their range, international rather than individual action by nations is most effective. Hence the purpose of ACAP is to establish a co-operative and comprehensive framework and process to restore albatrosses and petrels to favourable conservation status. In addition, ACAP aims to stop or reverse population declines by co-ordinating action to mitigate known threats to albatross and petrel populations.

The text of ACAP was agreed upon in February 2001, following a meeting hosted by the South African government in Cape Town. All the countries with interests in migratory bird species (i.e. Range States) were present and active in the negotiations leading up to the drafting of the Agreement, including Argentiina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America. The Agreement was opened for signature in Canberra, Australia on 19 June 2001, and was signed by seven states, viz. Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, New Zealand, Peru and the UK. Australia and New Zealand ratified the Agreement late in 2001, and other countries are currently pursuing ratification. Ratification by three more Range States would be required before the Agreement can be ratified. It is hoped that ratification can be achieved by the end of 2002.

The conservation status of the albatross

The albatross is the most endangered of all the world's seabirds. Scientists fear that 26 species of albatross and petrel may soon become extinct unless firm steps are taken to reverse the destructive effects of uncontrolled longline fishing, pollution, habitat degradation, human disturbance of breeding sites, and introduced diseases and predators. Of the 24 species of albatross, 21 species have declining populations, or have populations of unknown status. A contributory factor to their endangered status is that, approximately 50% of albatross populations contain less than 100 annual breeding pairs.

Despite the existence of new technology such as the underwater chute - a device which releases fish bait and hooks underwater, out of the sight of diving seabirds - the seabird bycatch of longline fishery continues to be a critical threat facing albatrosses and petrels.
South Africa and the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

South Africa has a specific interest in this issue, arising from the fact that Prince Edward Island (South Africa's sub-Antarctic island) has been identified as a 'hot spot' for illegal fishing by the international wildlife trade monitoring organisation, Traffic. Currently, industrial fishing vessels using longline methods, poach thousands of tons of Patagonian toothfish in the waters around Prince Edward and Marion Islands. This illegal fishery kills thousands of seabirds such as Wandering Albatrosses and petrels.

South Africa agreed in March 2002, that it would ratify ACAP.


Both the CITES programme and ACAP deal with the conservation and management of the earth's biological resources. South Africa supports these aims - hence in its Constitution, as well as in its environmental management programme, the need to protect and sustainably manage its biodiversity and in particular, to protect its endangered plant and animal species, is recognised. Both CITES and ACAP, insofar as they enable South Africa to continue to conserve and sustainably utilise its biodiversity, will receive the support of the environmental sector.


No related


No related documents


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: