Monday, March 29, 2010
Democracy or Politicians at Fault for Not Protecting Wildlife?
Last week, the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES met to deal with some pressing marine issues: severe declines in bluefin tuna and shark populations, threats to polar bears, threats to coral reefs etc.,
CITIES failed to protect the bluefin tuna, seven shark species, polar bears, and coral reefs. The only notable gains were protection for one shark species, the porbeagle, which means exporters of the shark will now be required to obtain special permits to prove that the fish were caught in a legal and sustainably managed fishery. Also, protections for several reptile and amphibian species were also approved.
Is democracy at fault for the failure of CITIES to protect endangered marine species?
Why did Canada, a democratic nation, reject a proposal to protect the polar bear through banning trade in polar bear skins and thereby help offset the affects of global warming on polar bears? Do these Canadian politicians represent will of the people of Canada--viz., the Canadian people are willing to risk the survival of the polar bears in order to continue polar bear commercial activity (e.g. sport hunting), and even though Canadian people in the Artic areas are not dependent on polar bears for survival (i.e. they have other food and clothing sources)?
Why did Japan, a democratic nation, take lead in rejecting protection for the plummeting bluefin tuna? Do commercial interests trump common sense and what the people want? Why would Japan politicians cling to the ICCAT organization which simply manages bluefin tuna, while the CITIES organization can protect bluefin tuna? Why did Europe waver on protecting the bluefin tuna? Europe commercial fishing interests?
Why was only one shark species added to the protection list, when there are seven other shark species endangered as well, and many other shark species are being heavily fished?
It appears based on the CITIES forum that politicians are making decisions contrary to the wills of their people, and in favor of self-interest groups such as the commercial fisheries. Politicians are voted for to represent the people, but do they really represent the will of the people? How can politicians be more accountable for their decisions? Should they be making decisions about wildlife when they are conflicted by commercial interests? If not them, how about non-partisan, objective citizen bodies from each country, or referendums on critical wildlife issues?
Bluefin tuna in critical 97% decline
2010 UN wildlife body poor results
2010 Cities UN wildlife body results
ICCAT statement on Bluefin Tuna