CITES CoP18 – Press release n°3
Geneva – 14h59
After 17 years of discussions, pillaging and smuggling, three first species of sea cucumbers were listed this morning in CITES’ Appendix II to control their international trade : teatfish. Found in the Pacific and Indian oceans as well as in the Red Sea, the species which main feature are small protrusions called teats live in shallow waters where they can be easily taken to be eviscerated, cooked, dried, salted or freezed and then sold under the name of “bêche de mer”. They are eaten mainly fried, with a sauce or in a soup in continental China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore as well as in South Korea and Malaysia.
Teatfish are among the most sought-after sea cucumber species because they’re the most expensive, up to US$ 400 a kilogram. Decline of their population leads fishermen to dive always farther to catch them and mortal accidents become more and more frequent. Member states of CITES will now contribute to protect these species essential for sea grass beds, lagoons and coral reeves. The proposal made by the European Union, the United States, Senegal, Kenya and the Seychelles was supported by Chile and Australia. Tonga, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea made their opposition known, along with China who considers that the main threat to sea cucumbers is global warming and not trade. China asked for a secret ballot.
The proposal was accepted with 108 votes in favour, 30 against and 7 abstentions, with a 12-month delay before the coming into effect of Appendix II.
CITES is often blamed for only caring about powerful and charismatic animals; teatfish were the ideal candidates to prove this wrong. In the future, Robin des Bois wishes that other sea cucumbers species will be taken into account by CITES.
Mako sharks, guitarfish and 10 other ray species were also listed in CITES’ Appendix II this morning.
– “The wildlife stock exchange”, CITES CoP18 press release n°1 of August 16, 2019
– “A Sea Cucumber Ending”, “On the Trail” n°4, p.107